1857  — 1919

William Clifton Dodd

Missionary evangelist of the Presbyterian Church USA and explorer who played a key role in the expansion of Protestant missions from northern Thailand into southern China.

Born in Marion, Iowa. Dodd graduated from Parsons College in 1883 and McCormick Theological Seminary in 1886. He arrived in Chiang Mai to work under the Laos Mission in 1886. He married Isabella Eakin in 1889. Dodd founded the mission’s training school for evangelists in 1889, and in 1891 the Dodds established the Lamphun Station near Chiang Mai. In 1897, they helped found the Chiang Rai Station, and in 1904 they pioneered the first Laos Mission station outside of Thailand, that at Kengtung, Burma. The latter closed in 1907, and the Dodds returned to Chiang Rai.

An ardent advocate of mission expansion, Dodd took a number of significant exploratory trips into eastern Burma and southern China. He produced a massive literature of reports and correspondence advocating the expansion of Presbyterian mission to reach all of the ethnic Tai peoples. Dodds’ long journey from Chiang Rai through southern China to Canton in 1910 generated considerable interest in Tai missions and led to the Dodds’ founding of the Laos Mission’s Chiangrung (Kiulungkiang) Station in Yunnan, China, in 1917. Dodd died there on 18 Oct 1919. He was one of the first ethnologists of the Tai race and accumulated an impressive array of data on the extent, numbers, and culture of the Tai.


This article is reproduced, with permission, from A Dictionary of Asian Christianity, copyright © 2001 by Scott W. Sunquist, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan. All rights reserved.


  • Dodd, William Clifton, The Tai Race (1923). McFarland, George Bradley, ed., Historical Sketch of Protestant Missions in Siam, 1828-1928 (1928). Swanson, Herbert R., “The Kengtung Question: Presbyterian Mission and Comity in Eastern Burma, 1896-1913,” Journal of Presbyterian History, Vol. 60, No. 1 (Spring 1982). Krischak Muang Nua (1984).

About the Author

Herbert R. Swanson

Office of History, Church of Christ in Thailand, Payap University Archives, Thailand