This collection of medicines and Chinese dolls was donated to the College by a Fellow, Dr Alison Kerr OBE. The medicines were used by Kerr's ancestors during their medical practices in China.

Kerr's grandfather, John Arthur Anderson (1862-1959), was born in Rhynie, Aberdeenshire and became a medical missionary in 1889 with the China Inland Mission, founded by Hudson Taylor.

He acquired a medical training in New York, where he met his future wife Alexandrina Ross (1869-1932) born in Dingwall, a medical graduate of the Women’s Medical University in New York. Following language study in Anking, John Anderson was posted to the CIM hospital in Chungking in South West China, going by ship up the Yangtze River.

He travelled extensively, preaching and providing medical services and, in his autobiography, described journeys through Yunnan province, determined attempts to help people to break the widespread and damaging opium habit, his travels by pony with a guide, to Tali (Dali) and beyond, preaching and offering medical assistance, across the upper tributaries of the Yangtzi River, reaching Chengdu, entering Szechwan and Kwaichow provinces, spending nights in the Chinese Inns, encountering numerous Chinese and Tibetan tribes, greeted with curiosity and gratitude for his services, experiencing episodes of personal illness including typhoid.

In 1900 when the Boxer Rebellion brought orders to throw out all foreigners, the regional chief in Dali insisted on their protection as he had benefitted from their services.

After a period of convalescence in Britain, John Anderson and Alexandria Ross were married in Shanghai Cathedral in 1895 and posted to a mission hospital in Taichowfu 1897. They returned finally to Scotland in 1921. The couple had seven children, three training as physicians.

 

Their sixth son, David Gordon Anderson (1909-1939) attended the mission school in Chefoo and returned to study in Aberdeen medical school. With his wife, Marjorie Kerr he returned to China in 1934 where the couple worked in Changzhi in Shansi province through the Sino-Japanese war, during the shelling of the city by both the Japanese and Nationalist armies. Heavily committed to medical work as the senior physician in two hospitals and among the refugees and injured combatants, Gordon contracted typhoid and died in 1939. His wife and their two children were brought to the coast in army transport where Marjorie taught in the Chefoo mission school until return to Britain was possible via the Pacific, America and the Atlantic in 1940.

If you'd like to find out more about these, or any other items in our collections, you can email us at library@rcpe.ac.uk

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