Pearl Comfort Sydenstricker Buck was born in Hillsboro, West Virginia to Caroline (Stulting; 1857-1921) and Absalom Sydenstricker, a Southern Presbyterian missionary. The family was sent to Zhenjiang, China in 1892 when Pearl was 3 months old. She was raised in China and was tutored by a Confucian scholar named Mr. Kung. She was taught English as a second language by her mother and tutor.
Buck was an extremely passionate activist for human rights. In 1949, outraged that existing adoption services considered Asian and mixed-race children unadoptable, Pearl established Welcome House, Inc., the first international, interracial adoption agency. In the nearly five decades of its work, Welcome House has assisted in the placement of more than five thousand children. In 1964, to provide support for Asian-American children who were not eligible for adoption, Buck also established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which provides sponsorship funding for thousands of children in half a dozen Asian countries.
Pearl S. Buck died of lung cancer on March 6, 1973 in Danby, Vermont and was interred in Green Hills Farm in Perkasie. She designed her own tombstone, which does not record her name in English; instead, the grave marker is inscribed with Chinese characters representing the name Pearl Sydenstricker.
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