The Reverend Dr. Yam Tong Hoh, clergyman and civic leader, was born June 16, 1898, in Fushan, China, and grew up in Canton. He studied in mission schools when he was young. In 1923 he earned an A.B. degree with honors and a diploma in Education from Lingnan University (Canton Christian College). He went on to become secretary of the Canton Young Men's Christian Association and then principal of the Lingnan High School.
While attending Lingnan, missionary professors selected him as one of three young men to be sent to the United States for further education. Reverend Hoh earned a master's degree in Education at Stanford University in 1929, and then attended San Anselmo Theological Seminary near San Francisco. He went on to receive his doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College in 1933. His dissertation, entitled "The Boxer Indemnity Remissions and Education in China," was a historical study of education in China from 1900 to 1930. It was based on extensive use of government documents and the official reports and publications of the administrative agencies for the various remissions. In the preface of his dissertation, Reverend Hoh acknowledged the help of various fellowships that had supported his research, and the help of his wife, Daisy Law Hoh.
Daisy Law was born in 1900, at the True Light Seminary, the first Christian school for girls in South China. She came to the United States as an orphan at the age of fifteen, and was educated first at Franklin High School in Los Angeles, then at the University of California Los Angeles where she earned a B.A. She also earned an M.A. degree with her husband at Stanford University and earned a second M.A. at Columbia University, where Yam Tong earned his Ph.D.
Reverend Hoh returned to China with a special interest in education. He became the administrative head of the True Light Middle School in Canton. This school was a Christian Mission School originally sponsored by the Foreign Mission Board of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Founded in 1872 as a school for orphan girls, it soon developed an outstanding reputation by producing some of the brightest young women, a reputation which continues today in the Hong Kong school.
While serving as principal of True Light, Dr. Hoh guided the school through its darkest days of the Japanese occupation and World War II. The school was forced to move from Canton to Hong Kong, then to Sam Kong, Kukong, Lienshien, Pinglok, Liuchow, Kweiyang, and finally to Chungking in advance of the Japanese invasion. Dr. Hoh's wife and son George, born in Canton in 1935, fled Hong Kong in 1940 and spent the war years with missionary friends in South Pasadena, California. During this time, Mrs. Hoh actively raised funds on behalf of the Chinese war effort against Japan. Finally, in 1944, Dr. Hoh was also forced to flee Chungking by an overland route through Mainland China to Burma and then India. He arrived in New York City and then was reunited with his wife and son in California. A few months after his arrival in the United States, Mrs. Hoh, who suffered from cancer, died in 1945.
After the war ended, Reverend Hoh considered returning to China, but as a result of the communist takeover and Mao Tse Tung's assumption of power, he decided to stay in the United States. Reverend Hoh served as minister at the Chinese Congregational Church in Berkeley, California, from 1947 to 1953. During this time, he married for a second time to Chia-Teh Li and the couple had a son, John, born in 1954. Following a successful building fund drive at the church, Dr. Hoh took the position of general secretary of the Chinese Community Center in Oakland, California. A Chinese school was one of the major activities of the Center. When the opportunity arose in 1954 for him to become minister of the Chinese Christian Church and Center in Philadelphia, Dr. Hoh left California with his family to accept the calling.
As pastor of this congregation until 1967, Reverend Hoh served the Chinese community throughout the Delaware Valley. He was ordained a minister of the United Church of Christ. In addition to his pastoral duties, Reverend Hoh did extensive work to help immigrants adjust to their new country. He frequently acted as a translator, many times providing assistance for naturalization or application for social security benefits when the immigrants became eligible. During his tenure, plans were made to build the Vine Street Expressway, the original routing of which would have destroyed part of Chinatown. Hoh and other community leaders were successful in persuading officials to re-route the expressway. The alternate routing spared most of Chinatown including the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. Reverend Hoh also took part in building a playground for the children in Chinatown.
Following his retirement in 1967, Reverend Hoh continued to be active in the Chinese community in Philadelphia. He also maintained contacts with those he had known in Berkeley, at True Light School, at Lingnan University, and missionary friends. He participated in a variety of organizations involved with community service, including the United Way and the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, and continued assisting immigrants. The main thrust of his retirement work, however, focused on the elderly, particularly the elderly Chinese in Chinatown. Reverend Hoh was acutely conscious of the plight of many elderly men who had migrated to "Gum San" (literally translated, "Mountain of Gold," as America was known in China in the old days). These men had come to the United States in their early years to earn money to send for their families. Instead, they found themselves in their old age living alone and broken.
Hoh's concern led him to plan, develop, and oversee the construction of a facility which provided low-income housing for elderly Chinese citizens, so they could spend their last few years in a community-type setting instead of alone. This project occupied the majority of Reverend Hoh's time from the late 1970s until its completion in 1985. There were many problems. The initial proposal to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was rejected; and during construction, the workers hit the water table, causing costs to exceed the initial projections and initially available funds.
Officially named the "On Lok House Older Adult Living Center" ("On Lok" translated into English means "Peace and Happiness"), the center was constructed at l0th and Spring streets in Chinatown. The seven-story structure contained 54 rental units. The $3 million dollar project was funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Pennsylvania Department of Community Affairs, private individuals, and four foundations: the Glenmede Trust Company, the William Penn Foundation, the W. W. Smith Charity Trust, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund. The City Redevelopment Authority purchased the land for the project and numerous individuals worked with Reverend Hoh to make this project a reality.
Completing a life of service, Reverend Hoh persevered in his wish to provide for the elderly. Having been active in service for most of his life, his final mission appropriately turned out to be successful. Reverend Hoh died of leukemia in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 15, 1987.
Scope and content
The bulk of material in this collection documents the lives of Yam Tong and Daisy Law Hoh while working and going to school in the United States. Daisy Law's life is documented by an assortment of biographical material, including diplomas, certificates, diary entries (1942-1944), correspondence (1944-1945). Further information on her life was provided by friends and loved ones after her death in the form of tribute letters to Yam Tong, and contributions to the Daisy Law Hoh Memorial and Building Fund.
Yam Tong's material includes speeches, newspaper clippings, correspondence and booklets, from the 1940s and 50s, and is written in either English or Chinese. Yam Tong's association with the True Light School of Hong Kong is documented by 200 slides of photographs taken in 1972, at the school and surrounding neighborhoods of Hong Kong. There is also a small collection of photographs of the Hoh's with their parents and son.
Restrictions on use
The collection is open for research.
Cite as: [Indicate item, box and folder #s here], Yam Tong and Daisy Law Hoh Papers (Collection 3020), The Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Gift of George and Yim Lin Hoh.
Accession number: M2001-37.
Processed by: Patrick Shea
Processing Completed: May 2002
The original chronological order of this material has been maintained. Some individual folders, however, were overfilled with material, requiring them to be divided among numerous folders. In separating the material, related items were grouped and housed together, while individual booklets and newsletters were given separate folders. The background note was written by Anthony St. Joseph, The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, August 1994.
Related collections at HSP:
Rev. Yam Tong Hoh Papers (MSS 126)
Related serials at HSP:
Chiao sheng jih pao, (The Chinese Voice)
Hsin min kuo pao, (The New Republic)
Min ch'I jih pao, (Chinese Nationalist Daily)
San min ch'en pao, (San Min Morning Paper)
Ta hang kung pao, (The Chinese Times)
Pasadena Star News - Home Edition.
"Noted Chinese Woman Educator Called by Death," 31 Oct. 1945.
"The Rev. Dr. Yam Tong Hoh, 89; Was Church Pastor and Civic Leader," 19 Dec. 1987.
China-History-1937-1945China-ReligionChinese American ChildrenChinese American FamiliesChinese American WomenChinese Americans-EmploymentChinese NewspapersChinese PeriodicalsChinese-MissionsChurch work with Asian Americans-CaliforniaChurch work with Asian Americans-Philadelphia, PAChurch work with immigrants-CaliforniaChurch work with immigrants-Philadelphia, PAClergy-Family RelationshipsImmigrants--Chinese--United States of America-Legal Status, Laws, etc. Immigrants--Chinese--United States of America-Services forMutual Aid Societies-United StatesReligious Poetry, ChineseUnited States-Emigration and Immigration
Hoh, Daisy Law (1900-1945)Hoh, Yam Tong (1898-1987)
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
1300 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Processing made possible by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC).
Yam Tong and Daisy Law Hoh,
Note: * - Material is partially written in Chinese
** - Material is entirely written in Chinese
Hoh, Daisy Law,
- Biographical Material *
Box 1: 1
Hoh, Daisy Law,
- Diary Entries *
Box 1: 2
Hoh, Daisy Law,
- Correspondence *
Box 1: 3
Hoh, Yam Tong,
- Speeches, with newspaper clippings
Box 1: 4
Hoh, Yam Tong,
- Correspondence and Other Material *
Box 1: 5
Box 1: 6
Hoh, Yam Tong,
Tribute Letters, on death of Daisy Law Hoh
Box 1: 7
Daisy Law Hoh Memorial and Building Fund ,
- Correspondence *
Box 1: 8
Aunt Maud Brough ,
- Correspondence to the Hohs
Box 1: 9
, The Western Pastor's School
Box 1: 10
Hoh, Yam Tong,
- Poetry and Correspondence, pertaining to church projects and Christianity
Box 1: 11
Hoh, Yam Tong,
- Miscellaneous notes and programs *
Box 1: 12
- Photograph Album with 10 mounted Photographs *
Box 2: 1
True Light Middle School of Hong Kong,
- Correspondence, Photographs and Brochures *
Box 2: 2
True Light School of Hong Kong,
Box 2: 3
University of Pennsylvania,
220th Commencement Program
Box 2: 4
Chinese American Bicentennial Council,
Box 2: 5
The Merrill Palmer News,
Box 2: 6
written in Chinese **
Box 2: 7
- Photographs of family members
Box 2: 8