The Edward H. Lockwood papers contains 23 letters, 19 of which were addressed to his friend Joe Kidd, a teacher and headmaster at Saint Luke's prep school in Wilton, Conn., and two each to his family and T.T. Poon, a Chinese official of the Y.M.C.A. Though few in number, these letters provide outstanding documentation of one man's service with the Y.M.C.A. during the years of the Sino-Japanese conflict and Second World War, and of the hardships inflicted on the Chinese civilian populations during the war.
Lockwood was highly educated and his letters are both impassioned and informative, though not always very long. His descriptions of Shaoguan during the war are particularly interesting, providing not only an American's impressions of the Chinese, but fine descriptions of the destruction, the refugees, and of Chinese efforts to keep their higher education system intact, even in exile. His occasionally blasé, occasionally anxious response to life beneath the bombs is intriguing and, at times, almost amusing.
The pre-1940 correspondence is particularly marked by a sense of frustration over American dithering in the face of Japanese aggression. Having twice lost all of his possessions when forced to flee before the Japanese, and having been witness to the devastation of war, Lockwood's feelings are easily understandable, though his particular mix of political perspectives is peculiar, to say the least. While excoriating the implicit racism of American foreign policy in Asia, for example, Lockwood offered only mild opposition to European fascism. While he was repelled by British imperialism, his feelings seem to have been largely attributable to an antipathy for their "antiquated," elitist social system, more than for its effects on the colonized nations.
Lockwood's personal life is not particularly well documented in this correspondence, however some information on his relationship with his eldest son, Richard (Dick), can be deduced. Several of Lockwood's letters to Joe Kidd include mention of his opinions on Dick's life choices, or give his opinions on Dick's growth into manhood, his career directions (or lack thereof), and his pacifism. That Lockwood was often separated from his wife and children is evident: while there seems to have been genuine affection in the family, work with the Y.M.C.A. seems to have been Lockwood's first priority. Finally, Lockwood's first letter to T.T. Poon contains his reflections on his quarter century of service with the Y.M.C.A. in China and just as interesting, his ideas on how he had been changed by China.