The Yale Undergraduate Research Journal


Following the fall of Nanjing, the Republic of China’s capital, in December 1937 during World War II, Japanese soldiers conducted a series of atrocities against civilians in the region that lasted for months, infamously known as the Nanking Massacre. This paper takes a microhistorical approach to examining how these atrocities permanently affected civilians’ lives. Relying on oral histories and primary sources at the Yale Divinity Library, it explores two interwoven histories of wartime survivors: one of the Cao family residing just outside Nanjing when the atrocities happened, and another of a Yale graduate named Miner Searle Bates who took advantage of his identity as an American to help document and represent long-lasting impacts the atrocities had on civilians like the Cao family. Through their attempts of resisting, rebuilding and reconciling, both the Cao family and Bates contributed to a truthful yet complicated narrative of war whose impact extends for generations.