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Personal Papers of William E. Hoffmann

Call Number: PP 336


This collection consists of scrapbooks and photograph albums, personal and professional correspondence, manuscripts, published items, maps, research, and other related materials regarding William Hoffmann's involvement with Lingnan University and his and his wife's time and experiences in China. Topics include university administration, China under the Revolution and at war with Japan, Chinese flora and insect life, life in Japanese internment camps during World War II, family life, etc. Boxes contain contents lists.


  • Creation: 1910 - 1949


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of William E. Hoffmann

William E. Hoffmann was born on May 4, 1896 in Caldwell, Sumner County, Kansas to parents Herbert and Katie Elizabeth Henn Hoffmann. He graduated from Caldwell High School in 1914 and received degrees from both the University of Kansas and the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis, his specialty in entomology. Hoffmann served in World War I in the Army as well as serving as an entomologist for the states of Kansas and Minnesota.

In June 1924, Hoffmann married Winifred Butcher of Cimarron, Gray County, Kansas. That same year he and his wife moved to Canton [Guangzhou], Kwangtun [Guangdong] Province, southern China where Hoffman took over as acting head of the biology department of Canton Christian College, which was renamed as Lingnan University in 1927.

In 1932 Hoffmann founded the Lingnan University Natural History Survey and Museum. He was the managing editor of the Lingnan Science Journal for several years. He made several biological collecting expeditions while living in China, particularly on the Island of Hainan, as well as into Taiwan and the Philippine Islands.

The Hoffmanns still resided in China when conflict between China and Japan erupted in 1937 after simmering for several decades following the first Sino-Japanese War. Hoffmann was responsible for 8,000 refugees at the Lingnan University Refugee Camp and was interned by the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was sent back to the United States in 1943 in an exchange of American and Japanese internees.

From 1944-1947 Hoffmann was associate curator of insects with the Smithsonian Institution. In 1947 he returned to China and remained there until 1951 before coming back to the United States, retiring from Lingnan University in 1953. He joined the University Press in Lawrence, Kan. at that time, retiring in 1962.

Winifred Butcher Hoffmann passed away November 26, 1986. William E. Hoffmann passed away September 12, 1989 in Lawrence, Kansas.


4 Linear Feet (4 boxes)

Language of Materials


Physical Location

PP 336

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, William Hoffmann, 1987-1988.

Related Materials

Consult library staff regarding the availability of related photographs, biographical files, and scrapbooks.

Separated Materials

Hoffmann's Army belt buckle located in the University Archives at the Spencer Research Library.

Guide to the William E. Hoffmann Collection
Personal Papers of William E. Hoffmann
Finding aid prepared by ad, 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in<language encodinganalog="language">English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal Papers of William E. Hoffmann, University Archives, PP 336, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States