Ida Pruitt

Today is the birthday of Ida Pruitt, an American writer, educator, and social worker born in China in 1888.

Ida Pruitt lived in Hwanghsien, a village in Shantung Province, until she was twelve and then went on to be educated in the United States. She attended Cox College in College Park, Georgia (1906-1909); received a B.S. from Columbia University Teachers’ College (1910); and studied social work in Boston and Philadelphia. In 1912, Pruitt returned to China as an adult to become a teacher and principal of Wai Ling School for girls in Chefoo (1912-1918). The Rockefeller Foundation later appointed her chief of the Department of Social Services, Peking Union Medical College (1921-1939). During the Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, Pruitt and social reformer, Rewi Alley, organized Chinese Industrial Cooperatives (CIC), an international committee that worked to promote Chinese self-sufficiency. She also served as executive secretary (1939-1952) of Indusco, the American fundraising arm for the CIC, and was an author and translator of several books including, A China Childhood (1978) and Daughter of Han: The Autobiography of a Working Woman (1945). Pruitt died in Philadelphia on July 24, 1985; she was survived by two adopted daughters, Kuei-ching Ho and Tania (Cosman) Wahl.

Her personal archives, including correspondence, diaries, notebooks, published and unpublished writings of her and her family, are now stored in Schlesinger Library of Harvard University. For finding aid, see

An online exhibition of Papers of Ida Pruitt and Marjorie King, 1891-1994:

Be Sociable, Share!