Kathleen L. Lodwick (1944–2022)
Historian of Christianity in China
Kathleen L. Lodwick, professor emerita of Chinese history at Penn State University, died in Berks County, Pennsylvania, on July 7, 2022. She was 78 years old.
Lodwick was born to Kathryn E. (Worthington) Lodwick and Algha C. Lodwick on February 7, 1944, in Saint Louis, Missouri. She earned her BA in journalism at Ohio University and her PhD in Chinese history at the University of Arizona. After publication of her prodigious work, The Chinese Recorder Index (Rowman and Littlefield, 1986), Lodwick was recognized as a front-runner in the field of China missionary research. Indeed, this exhaustive endeavor is the only research guide to the mission periodicals the Chinese Recorder and Missionary Recorder, and the entries in the persons index include biographical information, denominational affiliation, spouse names, and the locations and dates of service in China. Other indexes detail the historical contours of the Protestant mission in China: personnel, convert statistics, finances, hospital and school data, and so forth.
This monumental work remains among Lodwick’s most consulted and cited publications, but it is by no means her only work that researchers keep near their desks. Books such as Crusaders against Opium: Protestant Missionaries in China, 1874–1917 (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1996) and The Widow’s Quest: The Byers Extraterritorial Case in Hainan, China, 1924–1925 (Lehigh Univ. Press, 2003) offer arguments that have had a substantial impact on how historians approach the topic of Westerners in China. She uncovered new details of how missionaries sought to reverse the spate of opium addiction that Britain helped inflict on China, as well as how one American missionary effectively intervened in Sino-American relations to influence judiciary justice. Lodwick’s knack for vivid storytelling and insightful analysis are models for historians who both consult her works and remain influenced by her rigor.
Lodwick was among the few scholars who almost single-handedly created an academic subfield. She helped establish the field of China Christianity studies in 1983, when she founded the China Missions Group (CMG), later the China Christianity Studies Group. With the support of other eminent scholars, such as John K. Fairbank (Harvard Univ.), Jonathan Spence (Yale Univ.), and Frederic Wakeman Jr. (Univ. of California, Berkeley), the CMG was affiliated with the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and Lodwick directed its annual meetings at the AAS for 31 years. She also served as general editor of the Studies in Christianity in China book series at Lehigh University Press.
In 2012, Lodwick retired from Penn State University, where her courses were in great demand. In her teaching, she found the larger image of Sino-Western history in the small details, especially in the individual lives of women missionaries in China. These included Margaret Moninger, subject of her book Educating the Women of Hainan: The Career of Margaret Moninger in China, 1915–1942 (Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1995), who, like Lodwick herself, transformed lives as an educator. As with the work of many great scholars, her final book, How Christianity Came to China: A Brief History (Fortress Press, 2016), represents a retrospective survey of her topic, proving a rich and mature précis of her many decades of research. Though her field has suffered a great loss by her death, her work will endure.
Professionally, Lodwick was a generous mentor and supportive colleague, and personally, she was a passionate advocate of women’s rights, equity, and civic duty. Both her professional and personal lives served the same seamless aim to advance cultural friendship and improve the global landscape of social justice. She was keenly attuned to helping exonerate individuals who in have been wrongly convicted, and she was devoted to the reform of the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice. The Innocence Project was among the organizations that she supported throughout her life. Her friends also knew Lodwick to be an avid viewer of BBC mysteries while dedicating additional hours to embroidery. She is survived by her younger brother Laurence N. Lodwick and her daughter Kathryn E. Lodwick-Jones.
Anthony E. Clark
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