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Small, Alexander and Mary | Special Collections & Archives

Name: Small, Alexander and Mary
Variant Name: Lex and Polly Small


Historical Note: Alexander and Mary Small, also known as Lex and Polly, travelled to China in 1912 shortly after being married. Lex initially worked at the Fati Language School in Canton, where he was the school’s engineer, involved in various small building and maintenance projects. After one year he was assigned to be the Superintendent of Construction for the Nanking University, part of the China Union Universities, created and administered by four US missions in New York. For over thirteen years, Lex supervised the construction of 66 buildings on campus, and he and Polly hosted numerous visiting missionaries. In 1927, the Smalls fled down the Yangtsze River with few of their possessions in the midst of the Nanking Incident, an uprising of Nationalist and Communist soldiers in which foreign residents were attacked and their property looted and destroyed. The family left China for the United States, eventually settling in Pasadena, California, where Lex worked for an architectural firm and then the Los Angeles Board of Education





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