Southern Utah University Blog
 

Helen Foster Snow

Posted: September 21, 2017 | Author: Cami Mathews | Read Time: 2 minutes

Main Street parkCedar City native, Helen Foster Snow had an historic impact on journalism with her work in China, Korea, and Japan. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 and 1984 for her work, connection and “friendship bridge” with the Chinese people. She was also the second American to be awarded the title of “Friendship Ambassador,” the highest honor bestowed by the Chinese People’s Association for friendship with foreign countries.

She travelled to China at the age of 23 in 1931 and spent nearly a decade there interviewing, journaling and writing. Snow and her husband Edgar were the first foreigners who broke through the news blackout by the national government, sneaking into the “red areas” of China, and as such were the first to do exclusive interviews with major Chinese political figures. Snow was the second foreign woman to enter the area. She was able to interview Mao Zedong and get his support for what was to become the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives and “gung ho” movement.

Snow became a key planner in the Committee for the Promotion of Industrial Cooperatives in China, a program that worked to put refugees and widows to work by manufacturing small goods in their homes. Through her work in this program, it is said that Snow is credited with saving more than 1 million Chinese people.

Throughout her life and career Helen Foster Snow authored several books along with the beloved records of her journaling, including her memoir “My China Years.” While in China and after returning to the U.S., she also authored under the pen name Nym Wales.

Snow passed away in 1997, and in November of 2009, Chinese dignitaries brought a 7-foot tall bronze statue of their heroine to be dedicated in her small hometown, of Cedar City. The sculpture resides in Main Street Park honoring her life and legacy.

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