Editor’s Note: This article was initially published under the pseudonym Sandrine Thomas. Since then, the author has requested to change the authorship to her original name Evangeline Holland.
Dr. Yamei Kin (1864-1934) was a contradiction. The product of American-upbringing and Chinese heritage, she held the traditional values of the turn-of-the-century, but was both modern and fiercely feminist. Her parents were progressive, especially her mother, who, despite submitting to the traditional practice of foot-binding, was educated at seminary and chose her own husband. Tragedy struck when a fever epidemic swept her birthplace of Ning-po (Ningbo), leaving Yamei Kin orphaned at the age of three. She was adopted by Dr. D. B. McCartee and his wife, American missionaries who moved to Japan shortly thereafter. The McCartee’s were progressive in their own right, taking care to raise their new daughter with an awareness of her heritage.
“She did not have to give up her chopsticks for knife and fork. She was allowed to wear her hair oiled flat to her head in front and in shiny braids behind, and run about in the quaint little embroidered breeches of Chinese girlhood. And before she was taught any of the English branches she was given the regular course in the Chinese classics and a course of study in Japan. Then they brought her to America to complete her education, for it had been decided that she should study medicine. She was still too young to enter college when she came to the United States, so she took a course at a preparatory school before entering the Woman’s Medical College of New York, which is affiliated with Cornell.”