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Schmidt, Eric J. | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Schmidt, Eric J.

Historical Note:

Eric J. Schmidt was born on December 4, 1915 in Hillsborough, Illinois. He attended UC Berkeley, and graduated in 1940 after taking some time off of school to work on ships.

In November of 1940, he and a friend went on a ship headed to Australia, as they had plans to travel around the country. The ship made a stop in Shanghai on the way to pick up departing American citizens, and Schmidt and his friend decided to jump ship and stay in the city. Schmidt began working for an advertising company as the head of the art department, and arranged for his fiancée to come to China from America as well. They were married in Hong Kong in 1941, and shortly after they both began teaching at the Shanghai American School.

In 1943, the Schmidts were placed by the Japanese into the Chapei Civil Internment Center outside of Shanghai, where they lived for two and half years. The internees were able to convince the Japanese to let them continue to run the Shanghai American School for children in the camp, so Schmidt continued to teach and eventually became principal of the school while interned. He and his wife also had a daughter who was born at the camp.

After the war, Schmidt found work with the U.S. Army and the State Department in China, before returning to the United States with his family. He eventually settled in the San Francisco area.

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