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Letters by Medical Missionaries to Korea: Exploring Digital Humanities Approaches

  • Journal of the Korean Biblia Society for Library and Information Science
  • 2018, 29(1), pp.233-252
  • DOI : 10.14699/kbiblia.2018.29.1.233
  • Publisher : Journal Of The Korean Biblia Society For Library And Information Science
  • Research Area : Interdisciplinary Studies > Library and Information Science
  • Received : February 19, 2018
  • Accepted : March 21, 2018

Kyoung Jin Hur 1 Han Esther Mikyung Kim 2 Hye-Eun Lee 2

1연세대학교
2숙명여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The first Protestant medical missionary, Horace Allen, came to Korea in 1884 and built the first western-style hospital, Jaejungwon. John Heron, Oliver Avison and other foreign medical doctors soon followed. They established hospitals and medical schools, and, by treating patients and educating native doctors, they disseminated and developed modern medicine in Korea. At the same time, they wrote letters and reports to their sponsoring agencies, as well as family and friends, thereby leaving a vast body of literature that is scattered all over the world. Since the end of the 19th century, the records left by foreign medical missionaries have been valuable resources for the study of Korean history. While all types of records, such as diaries, memoirs, reports and travel logs, are available, these tend to be exaggerated or unverifiable because they are unilateral records. In contrast, letters can be verified because they are bilateral records between the recipient and the sender, and cannot be modified or altered according to changes in circumstances. Despite the academic value of these materials, however, there have been insufficient efforts to discover or identify these primary data sources, or to systematically organize them for scholars. This paper identified 49 archival collections from 29 institutions in North America. After analyzing their academic value, the paper will explore digital humanities options in utilizing the letters for future scholarship.

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