Aelwen Wetherby

Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Science, Department of History
University of Oxford

2011 to 2012
Dissertation Research Fellow

Aid, Incorporated: American Medical Relief to China and the Development of Medical Diplomacy, 1937-1949

Abstract: In July 1937, smoldering tensions between Chinese and Japanese troops in Northern China erupted into full-scale war. As embers of the conflict drifted beyond China’s borders, many Americans sympathized with China’s plight, despite the prevailing national climate of isolationism. In the following months, a number of grassroots relief organizations formed in solidarity with various facets of the Chinese cause. In 1941, eight such agencies were incorporated under United China Relief, Inc. (UCR). This project will examine UCR and its member agencies, focusing on their work in the medical sphere. Formed out of dual political and humanitarian motivations, their story contributes an important chapter to the history of international medical relief in the twentieth century. Given UCR’s financial success and eventual support by the U.S. government through the National War Fund, the story of UCR’s medical work promises a valuable illustration of the fine line between ‘medical activism’ and ‘medical diplomacy’. Read Aelwen's report on her PACHS-sponsored research here.