1883  — 1979

George Ashmore Fitch

YMCA worker in China.

Fitch was born in Soochow, China, the son of Presbyterian missionaries George F. and Mary (McLellan) Fitch. He graduated from the College of Wooster, Ohio (1906), and Union Theological Seminary, New York (B.D., 1909). He was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1909 and went to China to work with the YMCA in Shanghai. When the Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre by the Japanese army occurred in 1937-1938, Fitch, who was head of the YMCA there, served as director of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone.

His diary report on atrocities committed by the Japanese army in Nanking was carried to Shanghai by the first person able to leave Nanking after its occupation by the Japanese in December 1937. Writing later in his autobiography, Fitch said, “My story created a sensation in Shanghai, for it was the first news of what had happened in the capital since its evacuation, and it was copied and mimeographed and widely distributed there.” In 1938 Fitch traveled throughout the United States giving talks about the Nanking Massacre and showing films to document it. He returned to China in 1939 to serve with the YMCA and later with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Agency until 1947. He then served the YMCA in Korea and Taiwan until 1961, when he retired in the United States. He died in Claremont, California.


This article is reprinted from Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions, Macmillan Reference USA, copyright (c) 1998 Gerald H. Anderson, by permission of The Gale Group; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • George A. Fitch, My Eighty Years in China (1967).

About the Author

Martha Lund Smalley

Curator, Day Missions Collection, Yale Divinity School Library, New Haven, Connecticut, USA