I Speak As One Who Knows:
The Story Behind The Child Who Never Grew

Pearl S. Buck was a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, avid humanitarian, and ardent social justice activist. Buck used her writing and celebrity to shine a light on many issues facing society, including women’s rights, racial injustice, and the plight of marginalized children living in poverty around the world. One of the lesser known causes for which she advocated was the rights of the differently-abled. This cause was near and dear to Pearl Buck’s heart, as it was something that personally affected her own family. Buck’s only biological child, Carol, was born in China in 1920. Though she appeared healthy at birth, she was born with phenylketonoriua (PKU), an inherited metabolic disease. If left untreated, it leads to profound intellectual disabilities. PKU can now be treated, but at the time of Carol’s birth, both the illness and the treatment were unknown. Carol was not diagnosed with PKU until adulthood, and thus experienced a life-long intellectual disability. She grew up in the Vineland Training School in New Jersey with other differently-abled children and adults, and Pearl Buck used her writing in part to support Carol’s care.

In a time when families experiencing and raising differently-abled children was not only not talked about, but often actively hidden from the world, Pearl Buck wrote about Carol and her experience as the mother of a differently-abled child in The Child Who Never Grew, published in 1950. Her inspiring account of her struggle to help and understand her daughter was one of the first public disclosures of its kind from a public figure. Throughout her life, Buck advocated for the care, treatment, research into, understanding, and acceptance of not only Carol, but all children and families in their same situation. This exhibit highlights Pearl S. Buck’s journey as a mother of a differently-abled child, her advocacy for all differently-abled children, and how American society’s view of people with intellectual disabilities evolved from the 19th century to today.

Please click on the image above to enter the exhibit. Thank you for visiting!

Pearl S. Buck Taking Action:
Civil Rights in America

Pearl S. Buck was a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, avid humanitarian, and ardent social justice activist. Buck was born in the United States but spent the first half of her life growing up in China in the early 20th century. Her experience of knowing what it was like to be a minority in a majority culture informed Buck’s writing, humanitarian aid, and advocacy later in her life. Pearl S. Buck Taking Action: Civil Rights in America explores Buck’s passionate and tireless work on behalf of civil rights and gender and racial equality issues. She was a lifetime member of the NAACP, the adoptive mother of two daughters of African American heritage, wrote many articles, speeches, and letters in support of civil rights, and worked alongside many influential African American leaders of the civil rights movement.

Recent events have brought systemic racism and racial inequality to the forefront of the national consciousness. Pearl S. Buck International has a deeply rooted history in Buck’s passionate social justice work. In light of these two things, Pearl S. Buck Taking Action: Civil Rights in America invites visitors to engage in this global moment of clarity to see one woman’s past leadership in this struggle and ask visitors to consider—how can you enact change today?  This exhibit highlights how Pearl S. Buck not only spoke and wrote about making change in the world but took action to ensure it happened. Pearl S. Buck International continues this legacy today and invites viewers of this exhibit to become a part of the story and take action to make the world, in Pearl S. Buck’s own words, a “good and peaceful place.”

Please click on the image above to enter the exhibit. Thank you for visiting!

Pearl S. Buck Awards Room

Pearl S. Buck was honored with numerous awards during her lifetime and beyond. She received a wide range of plaques, certificates, and awards which spoke to the many inspiring achievements she accomplished during her life.

For Pearl S. Buck, an award was not just an honor but a chance to shed light on the rights of marginalized communities including people of different races, women, and people who are disabled. Pearl Buck believed that a strong society is built on respect and equity for all people, no matter their race, religion, or citizenship. This semi-permanent exhibit, therefore, is not a tribute to her many awards and honors, but to her lifetime commitment to standing with those seeking equal rights and advocating for those who did not have a voice to fight for themselves.

The Exhibit Gallery is Located in the Welcome Center


Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sunday: 12 Noon to 4:00 PM

The Welcome Center is closed on the following days:

New Year’s Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Eve
Christmas Day
New Year’s Eve

Admission to the exhibit is complimentary.

For more exhibit information, contact Curator Marie Toner at 215-249-0100 x149 or