Nanjing’s Historic Universities
Eric N. Danielson
One of my pet research projects over the past 15 years has been the history and ultimate fate of the 13 Protestant Christian Colleges established in China before 1949. There were a total of 16 Christian colleges in China if you counted the three Roman Catholic colleges that included one in Beijing and another in Shanghai. This was one of the major themes in my three-volume New Yangzi River trilogy published in 2004-2005. For each city covered in those volumes, any historic universities located there were covered in extensive detail.
The most comprehensive work on the history of all 13 of these Protestant colleges up until the Communists took them over in 1949 was published by Martha L. Smalley of Yale University in 1998. However, she did not use Chinese phonetic pinyin or Chinese characters to render the Chinese names used in the text, but rather relied on the antiquated Wade-Giles phonetic system. The text is available for free on Yale’s website: http://www.library.yale.edu/div/colleges/descriptions.htm.
The same site also hosts a collection of historic archival photographs of the China campuses, which are useful for identifying the names of the surviving halls today. http://divdl.library.yale.edu/ydlchina/default.aspx. These photos come from the Archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.
Unfortunately, Martha Smalley was unable to actually visit the present-day sites of these historic campuses to inspect their present conditions or take new photographs of the surviving buildings herself. She was also unable to update the histories of these schools with the fate of their campuses after 1949. She left this task to the team of T. Johnston and D. Erh, who were not able to locate, visit, and photograph all the historic campuses. Some campuses they seemed unable to find (Huazhong), while others they seemed unwilling to visit (Huaxi) because they were located too far away from their home base in Shanghai. In addition, they failed to identify the historic names of the surviving buildings and added little or no new information as to the fate of the campuses after 1949. Johnston’s sole contribution was to write somewhat uninformative captions for the new photographs taken by Erh. However, Johnston and Erh’s official website falsely claims that Johnston wrote the text and fails to make any mention at all of the text’s true author Martha L. Smalley. [http://www.han-yuan.com/zhongguotong/tongguotongshu/hallowedhalls/hallowedhalls.htm.]
To date I have located, visited, and extensively photographed the campuses of approximately 8 of these 13 historic universities, including Hangchow University (Zhijiang Daxue) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang; St. John’s University (Sheng Yue Han Daxue) in Shanghai; S00chow University (Dong Wu Daxue) in Suzhou, Jiangsu; Ginling College (Jinling Nuzi Daxue) and the University of Nanking (Jinling Daxue) in Nanjing, Jiangsu; Central China University (Huazhong Daxue) in Wuhan, Hubei; West China Union University (Huaxi Daxue) in Chengdu, Sichuan; and Shantung Christian University (Qi Lu Daxue) in Jinan, Shandong. My main omissions have been the two campuses in Fujian and the one in Guangdong, two places that I don’t really want to visit, although I was also too lazy to ever visit the former site of the University of Shanghai, although I lived in that city for over 13 years. I also have yet to visit or photograph the former site of Yenching University (Yanjing Daxue) in Beijing, although I was so close when I visited the old Yuanmingyuan imperial garden, so my work isn’t quite finished yet.
Nonetheless, some of these historic universities were already described by me in my New Yangzi River trilogy. A detailed description of the history and present day location of Huazhong Daxue, along with color photographs of the surviving historic buildings, was included in the chapter on Wuhan in Vol. III on The Upper Yangzi and The Three Gorges (2005). It wasn’t easy to find and I believe I was first modern-day Westerner to relocate it since 1949. An extensive description and photographs of the former St. Johns University campus appeared both in my Shanghai and the Yangzi Delta (2004) and in my more recent book Discover Shanghai (2010), both published in Singapore. Furthermore, extensive description and photos of the former Suchow University campus appear in a separate blog entry on my blog, Suzhou: Epicenter of the Grand Canal.
Ginling College and the University of Nanking were previously extensively described by me in Vol. II of my New Yangzi River series, Nanjing and the Lower Yangzi (2004). However, at that time I commented on how the local authorities seemed determined to present a falsified version of the institutions’ histories, one which completely denied and erased the role of Christian missionaries from America in founding them before 1949. Later these same discrepancies came to the attention of others. A huge debate broke out between Chinese and Western contributors to the Wikipedia article on Nanjing Daxue, when the former basically copied and pasted a translated version of the official history from the present university’s website, with disagreements so severe that it was never resolved. At one point I was even contacted by a group of irate aging octogenarian imperialists overseas in America who had once been on the faculty at Nan Da before 1949 and wanted to make the long trek back to Nanjing just to set the historical record straight with the local authorities there, but they ran out of steam before the expedition could be launched.
After an absence from the city of 8 years, in the Summer of 2012 I was finally able to make a brief visit back to Nanjing, where I once again explored the campuses of its two historic universities to see if anything had changed in terms of how the historical record was presented, as well as take some new digital photographs. What I found was a certain degree of greater historical honesty on the part of the local authorities in contrast to when I had completed my book on the city in 2004, but also still some lingering historical fictions and seemingly deliberate omissions of fact. What follows is some historical background, excerpts of my original descriptions of the two campuses from 2004, plus updates and new photos from my Summer 2012 trip back, and finally a select bibliography of source materials.
Some Historical Background
The establishment of the Christian universities in China was gradually made possible by the unequal treaties between China and the Western powers that started with the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing that ended the first Opium War of 1839-1842. These treaties established foreign settlements and treaty ports, and allowed Christian missionaries to operate freely. In addition to churches and cathedrals, the Christian missionaries were responsible for establishing a nationwide network of colleges and universities in China. Some of the smaller ones, such as Griffith John College in Hankou and William Nast College in Jiujiang, have completely disappeared. However, others such as St. John’s University in Shanghai, the University of Nanking, and Ginling College in Nanjing continue to educate students to this day, albeit under new names and the new management of the Chinese government. Jessie G. Lutz has estimated that in 1936 the Christian missionary colleges in China were educating 12 per cent of all Chinese college students, and that by 1947 this number had risen to as high as 20 per cent. Furthermore, a study of publications such as Who’s Who in China show that graduates of these Christian colleges formed the political and economic elite of Min Guo China.
However, a nationalist Chinese backlash against the missionaries influence over the educational system in China had already started in 1927 with the so-called National Educational Rights Recovery Movement. As the Guomindang’s Northern Expedition (Bei Fa) moved from Guangzhou to Wuhan, and then downriver to Nanjing, Western missionaries were forced to flee in droves. Jessie G. Lutz has estimated that by July 1927 only 500 Christian missionaries remained in inland China out of the 8,000 who had been living and working there at the start of the year. This exodus led to the appointment of the first Chinese presidents of the Christian colleges in 1928, and the registration of these institutions with the new Chinese central government in Nanjing starting in 1929. Today the modern-day campuses of these universities often have statues of the Chinese presidents who took over in 1928, but never have monuments to the foreigners who served as president before that year.
Even after the fall of Najing and Shanghai to the Red Army in April 1949, many Christian missionaries tried to remain in Communist-occupied China, and some managed to do so for an additional two years. This was particularly true of those serving as faculty and administrators at the thirteen foreign-funded Christian universities which then existed in China, such as the University of Nanking and Ginling College in Nanjing, and St. John’s University in Shanghai. Although they had previously often been criticized for supposedly hiding behind the protection of foreign gunboats and diplomats, the fact that so many were willing to stay on even after the entire rest of the foreign presence had departed shows that they had some guts after all.
As late as the fall of 1950 some universities’ faculty still included foreign missionaries. However, new regulations governing religious organizations were issued in January 1951, which prohibited any financial support from foreign countries, thus cutting the universities and their missionary staff off from their overseas organizations and sources of funds. A national conference of Protestant church leaders held in Beijing in April 1951 resulted in the expulsion from China of the final remaining foreign missionaries. The foreign presence in China’s educational system was then back to where it had been in 1842.
Ginling College (Jinling Nuzi Daxue)
Edited 2004 Text:
Ginling College (Jinling Nuzi Daxue), now known as Nanjing Normal University (Nanjing Shifan Daxue), was originally a Christian school for young Chinese women established by American missionaries in 1913 when Matilda Thurston (Mrs. Lawrence Thurston) was chosen as its first president. Its first classes started informally in 1915 in a few rented houses, but in 1916 the founders began purchasing parcels of land. By 1918 a 27-acre site was ready in the Peach Valley (Tao Gu) between Qing Liang Shan and Wu Tai Shan, southwest of the University of Nanking (Jinling Daxue), along present day Ning Hai Lu. An American Building Committee for Ginling College was established in New York to raise funds for construction.
The American architect Henry K. Murphy was chosen in 1918. Murphy’s firm of Murphy and Dana was based in New York, but they had just opened an office in Shanghai. Murphy had already designed the Yale-in-China (Yali) campus in Changsha in 1914, and was in 1918 also involved in designing plans for Qinghua University in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai. Later he designed Peking-Yenching University (Yanjing Daxue) in Beijing, which still stands today and is currently known as Peking University (Beijing Daxue aka Bei Da).
Murphy’s idea, unique at the time, was to combine traditional Chinese style with modern Western construction methods. He was one of the founders of what became known as the neo-classical Chinese renaissance in architecture; a style that later became a trademark of the Guomindang era. Murphy’s plan for Ginling called for administrative and residential buildings to be constructed around several quadrangles. The buildings were to include a Chapel, Library, Science Building, Recitation Building, Faculty House, and two dormitories. Construction of the first six buildings lasted from 1921 to 1923.
The new campus formally opened in October 1923, with ceremonies attended by provincial government officials and foreign journalists. One observer commented that it was, “the first time that foreigners had ever successfully adapted Chinese architecture to modern requirements.” Other observers compared the campus buildings to Chinese palaces or temples. By 1925 the college had an enrollment of 133 students, with 17 full-time foreign faculty and a library housing a collection of 10,000 volumes of books. In April 1934 the library collection contained 21,803 volumes, including 10,038 in Western languages.
As at the University of Nanking, the 1924-1927 “Educational Rights Recovery Movement” finally forced the appointment of the university’s first Chinese president, Wu Yifang, who formally replaced Matilda Thurston (Mrs. Lawrence Thurston) in May 1928. Wu continued to serve in this post for the next 23 years, until the school was closed down by the new Communist government in 1951.
Ginling College seems to have had a very close relationship with the national government authorities, as many high level representatives paid visits to the campus during the decade when Nanjing served as the Guomindang capital city. The 1934 commencement ceremony was attended by President Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi) and his wife Song Meiling. Meiling later donated a dormitory to the campus, and continued to visit the school after its exodus to Chengdu. Both Hu Shih (Hu Shi) and Finance Minister H.H. Kung (Kong Xiangxi) attended the November 1934 dedication and formal opening of two new campus buildings, the Library-Administration Building and the Chapel-Music Hall. Sun Fo, the son of Sun Yatsen (Sun Zhongshan), visited the school in 1936.
By 1937 the campus had grown to 40 acres in size. Just prior to the Japanese attack on the city, most of the school’s students and faculty retreated to Chengdu, in Sichuan province, where they set up an alternate campus in exile for the next eight years. From December 1937 to May 1938 the campus served as a safe haven for an estimated 10,000 civilian Chinese refugees who sought to escape from the Japanese army which was ravaging the rest of the city. Some faculty members who had chosen to stay behind directed the relief efforts. As an American run institution, its campus was treated as neutral territory until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. In June 1942 the campus was finally occupied by Japanese troops who used it as living quarters until the end of the war in August 1945.
In February 1946 the faculty returned to the Nanjing campus. They found severe war damage from the Japanese occupation, including empty laboratories, looted libraries, missing furniture, newly dug trenches, newly constructed walls, warehouses, and horse stables. The Japanese army had used the dormitories for housing. Watchtowers had been built on top of many of the buildings.
After Ginling’s resumption on its old campus, it regained its previous prominence with the national government. Four Ginling graduates were elected to the April 1948 National Assembly, after which the newly elected Vice-President, Li Zongren, paid a visit to the campus to give a speech on May 3, 1948.
After the April 1949 Communist occupation of Nanjing, Ginling College still managed to hold its commencement ceremony on June 27, 1949. The school continued to function until early in 1951 when all overseas sources of funding for missionary run institutions were cut off by the Communist government, which then began to take over their administration. Ginling was initially merged with Nanjing University (Nanjing Daxue), but in 1952 it become an independent university with the name of Nanjing Teachers College (Nanjing Shifan Xue Yuan). In 1984 Nanjing Teachers College changed its name to the present Nanjing Normal University (Nanjing Shifan Daxue). It is now a co-educational institution for both boys and girls.
The former site of Ginling College is now known as the Sui Yuan Campus of Nanjing Normal University. A monumental red entrance gate erected in 1982 faces Ning Hai Lu. Passing through the gate you walk up the tree-lined main avenue of the campus until you reach a square green lawn surrounded on all four sides by the original halls of Ginling College. They are amazingly intact and in pristine condition, with their yellow walls, red columns, blue trim around the doors and windows, green and red tripod roof brackets, upturned roof eaves, and sloping tiled roofs. There are a total of 17 historic buildings from the Ginling College still standing here, and still in use by the modern day university. Many of the building interiors are unchanged, although some have been renovated.
Although the Ginling campus has been well preserved, the sad part is the near total denial of its American missionary origins up until 2004. There are no monuments to its founder, Matilda Thurston, nor to Henry K. Murphy, the American architect who designed it. In 2004 the only admission of Ginling’s previous existence on this site was a memorial plaque on the outside of the Hua Xia Library Building, which noted that the former office of Wu Yifang, president of Ginling from 1928 to 1951, had once been in this building. Even this sign had disappeared by the time of my return visit in the Summer of 2012.
The official history displayed on public signs at the campus as well as on the university’s web site falsely claims the university’s origins as having started with Zhang Zhi Dong’s founding of San Jiang College in 1902, and neglects any mention of Thurston, Murphy, Ginling’s true founding in 1913, nor the grand opening of the campus in 1923. This anti-American attitude seems to pervade even the School of Foreign Languages, which in 2004 had centers for Canadian, Australian, and even French studies, but pointedly lacked any American Studies Center.
Since my book on Nanjing was published in 2004, public recognition of the institution’s true history has somewhat improved at the former site of Ginling College (Jinling Nuzi Xueyuan), still a functioning college now known as Nanjing Normal University (Nanjing Shifan Daxue). When I wrote this section of my previous book there was no public acknowledgement of the existence of the previous institution established by American Christian missionaries on the site of the present-day campus before 1949.
Contrary to the situation in 2004, there are now two markers erected since then, one dated 2006 and the other 2008. This shows that the local authorities are becoming increasingly more willing to tell the historical truth. The front entrance gate to the campus built in 1982 now has one of the Nanjing city historic architecture plaques erected around the city in 2008 marking it as the former site of Jinling Nuzi Xueyuan. There is also an inscribed stone tablet dated 2006 inside the front gate atop a historic stone pedestal marking it as the former site of Jinling Nuzi Xueyuan. When I photographed this same stone pedestal back in 2004 it had a different inscribed stone tablet atop it which was not related to Jinling Nuzi Xueyuan.
However, none of the individual campus buildings have plaques or markers denoting their dates of construction or historic names and purposes. Furthermore, none of the original inscribed cornerstones remain visible. Most oddly of all, the previous memorial plaque devoted to the Chinese woman who assumed the presidency of the university in 1928, Wu Yifang, had disappeared from outside the Hua Xia Library building by the time of my return visit in Summer 2012.
University Address: 122 Ning Hai Lu
University Web Site: http://www.njnu.edu.cn
The University of Nanking (Jinling Daxue) [金陵大学]
Edited 2004 Text:
Across the street from the Drum Tower (Gu Lou) traffic circle on Beijing Xi Lu still stand some of the original buildings which comprised the University of Nanking (Jinling Daxue) [金陵大学], now known as Nanjing University (Nanjing Daxue) [南京大学]. The historic campus covers an area stretching from Hankou Lu in the south to Beijing Xi Lu in the north.
This school was formed in 1910 through the merger of three colleges established earlier by Christian missionaries, including the Methodist Nanking University (Hui Wen Shu Yuan) [汇文书院] founded in 1888 by John C. Ferguson and the Union Christian College (Hong Yu Shu Yuan) [宏育书院] formed in 1906. Union Christian College had itself been formed in 1905 by the merger of two previous missionary schools, Nanking Christian College (Jidu Shu Yuan) [基督书院] and the Presbyterian Academy (Yizhi Shu Yuan) [益智书院]. In 1911 the University of Nanking (Jinling Daxue) [金陵大学] was granted a charter by the State University of New York (SUNY).
By 1914 the campus covered 70 acres of land, and included three dormitories, three lecture halls, a science hall, a chapel, a YMCA, a hospital, and 13 faculty houses. In 1915 a school of agriculture and forestry was opened under Professor Joseph Bailie. The campus’ main administration-library building, Severance Hall, was built in 1919.
By 1925 the school had an enrollment of 293 students, with 27 full-time foreign faculty and a library collection of 67,000 volumes which was by far the largest of any of the dozen missionary universities in China. By 1935 the urban campus had grown to 110 acres, and a 120 acre Agricultural Experimentation Station, known colloquially as “Bailie’s Farm,” had been established outside the city at the northwestern foot of Zijin Shan. There were two chapels, the first one was Sage Memorial Chapel, later supplemented with the Paul D. Twinem Memorial Chapel. The architecture was in the neo-classical Chinese renaissance style also used for the buildings of nearby Ginling College. By March 1935 the library had a collection of 194,253 books, including 23,812 volumes in Western languages.
Arthur J. Bowen had become president of Union Christian College in 1907, and served as the first president of the newly formed University of Nanking from its inception in 1910 until the capture of Nanjing by the Guomindang in 1927 during the Northern Expedition (Bei Fa). Similarly, John E. Williams, was appointed the school’s very first vice-president at the time of its founding in 1910 and continued to serve in this role until March 1927, when he was executed by Chinese soldiers during the Guomindang’s military take-over of the city of Nanjing. The dramatic events of 1927, coming after several years of public pressure known as the “Educational Rights Recovery Movement,” finally forced the appointment of the university’s first Chinese president, Chen Yuguang [陈裕光] aka Y.G. Chen (1893-1989), who formally replaced Arthur J. Bowen in May 1928 and remained president until the university was taken over by the Communist government in 1951.
Much like Ginling College, the University of Nanking seems to have had a fairly close relationship with the Guomindang central government. The annual commencement ceremonies featured three minutes of silent prayer before a portrait of Sun Zhongshan, founder of the Guomindang party. The 1934 commencement was attended by Sun Fo, the son of Sun Yatsen (Sun Zhongshan) and then the President of the Legislative Yuan. In 1936 President Chiang Kaishek (Jiang Jieshi) visited the campus, joined by the heads of the Examination Yuan (Kaoshi Yuan) and the Guomindang party students organization. In fact, the Guomindang’s long-serving military chief of staff General He Yingqinlived in a house on the university’s campus. Although the original one was destroyed during the Japanese occupation of the city, he rebuilt it after the war and it is still there now, serving as the university’s Office of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs.
In November 1937 the faculty and students retreated to Chengdu, just prior to the Japanese attack on Nanjing. During the first few months of the Japanese occupation of the city, the university campus served as neutral territory for refugees, much like Ginling College did. At that time it is said that the university’s hospital was the only one functioning in the entire city.
The faculty returned to the Nanjing campus in May 1946. During the war the collaborationist regime of Wang Jingwei had used the main quadrangle buildings for their own Central University, but the faculty houses had been occupied by the Japanese military. The chapel had been used as a warehouse. The original library collection of 440,000 volumes had been looted.
Although it had previously had a close relationship with the Guomindang government, the student body became affected by rising dissatisfaction with the regime in the immediate post-war years. In 1947 University of Nanking students went on strike in sympathy with those who were striking at the government run National Central University (Guoli Zhongyang Daxue) [now Nanjing's Southeast University (Dong Nan Daxue)].
After the April 1949 Communist capture of Nanjing, the university continued to maintain its Christian atmosphere and missionary management for some time. The 1949 commencement was held with a church choir in attendance, and on December 24, 1949 a Christmas party was held, complete with a manger nativity scene and a religious play about the Four Wise Men performed by students. The very last commencement ceremony held under missionary management was that of July 3, 1950. The administration of the school was taken over by government authorities in early 1951, when foreign missionary organizations were prohibited from operating in China, and all remaining foreign faculty left at that time. The name of the school was changed to Nanjing University (Nanjing Daxue) [南京大学], under which it continues to function today.
Although nearly all the original buildings have survived, it is unfortunate that Nanjing University follows the example of Nanjing Normal University (Nanjing Shifan Daxue) in denying its Western missionary heritage and instead insists on promoting the lie that its origins can be traced to the San Jiang College founded by Zhang Zhidong in 1902. The university’s official history makes absolutely no mention of the missionaries founding, construction, and management of the school from 1911 to 1951, and the school’s coat of arms prominently displayed everywhere carries the date 1902. All evidence that would testify to this has been carefully cleansed from the buildings and campus.
Today most of the surviving historic buildings stand in the half of campus north of Hankou Lu, although there are three historic buildings in the southern half as well. Historic houses where the foreign faculty members formerly lived can be found on both sides of tree-lined Hankou Lu.
Heading north from Hankou Lu a walk up Zhong Da Lu leads you past the two-story Spanish Colonial house where Guomindang General He Yingqin used to live on your left, and a small one-story red brick hall with upturned roof eaves on the right that was once the Twinem Memorial Chapel. The chapel was named after Paul D. Twinem, a former faculty member at the university. Outside it is an iron bell hanging from a wooden frame. The bell is inscribed “Weneely N.V.,” possibly providing a clue to where it was made.
North of the chapel pathways lead to the main quadrangle of historic buildings and a smaller one on its west side. At the north end of the main quadrangle is the two-story former Severance Hall with its five-story tower. This hall originally served as the combined administration-library building. A foundation stone in the southwest corner still bears the date 1919. Inside the first floor lobby the original chandelier still hangs from a coffered ceiling colorfully painted with a Phoenix pattern. The stairwells on either side bear a total of four sets of stone Chinese inscriptions embedded in the walls that have been covered up with thick white paint to make them illegible. The two-story hall on the western side of the main quadrangle was formerly the Joseph Bailie Agricultural Hall and has a foundation stone in its southeast corner bearing the date 1925. The two-story hall on the eastern side of the main quadrangle has no visible cornerstone, but was formerly the Swasey Science Hall. Inside its entrance lobby a curious relic has survived in the form of a round, bronze, Western astrological calendar embedded in the floor.
West of this main quad is a second smaller one surrounded by a collection of historic halls that were the university’s original dormitories. The larger of the university’s two chapels, the two-story brick Sage Memorial Chapel built about 1920, still stands in the center of this smaller quadrangle.
Nanjing Daxue now has a stone marker dated 2008 with a Chinese language inscription stating that it is the former site of Jinling University (“Jinling Daxue Jiuzhi”) [金陵大学旧址], but the marker is not located in a prominent place where many people would see it. In fact it’s hidden in the bushes of a forested area. This marker was not there when I completed research for my previous book on Nanjing in 2004.
In this same forested area in the middle of the campus there is now a statue erected by the Jinling University Alumni Association (Jinling Daxue Xiaoyou Hui) [金陵大学校友会] in September 2008 of Chen Yuguang [陈裕光] the Chinese president of Jinling Daxue from 1928 to 1951, but there is also a statue of a previous president of National University (Guoli Zhongyang Daxue), which was totally unrelated to Nanjing University and in fact was the predecessor of present-day Southeastern University (Dong Nan Daxue) located at #2 Si Pai Lou, so some historical fiction continues to be promoted. In fact, there is a Chinese language stone tablet behind the campus of Southeastern University on Beijing Dong Lu inscribed “Guo Zi Xue,” marking it as the former site of Guoli Zhongyang Daxue.
Both the Sage Memorial Chapel and the Twinem Memorial Chapel are still standing, although neither are labeled as to their original names, and neither is used as a chapel any longer. The Sage Memorial Chapel seemed to be in use as a lecture hall for large classes, while the Twinem Chapel sat empty.
The former Twinem Chapel still stands with its Bell Pavilion and bell in front of it. There are two Chinese language memorial inscriptions here, one on a metal plaque in front of the bell pavilion and another inscribed in stone in front of the chapel’s entrance. The inscribed stone tablet in front of the Twinem Memorial Chapel dated May 2002 records the repair (Chong Xiu) [重修] of the building now known simply as the Small Assembly Hall (Xiao Li Tang) [小礼堂] and Bell Pavilion (Zhong Ting) [钟亭], noting that the hall was originally the small chapel (xiao li bai tang) [小礼拜堂] of Jinling Daxue [金陵大学]. This is the earliest post-Liberation memorial to Jinling Daxue on the campus and predates almost all the others by six years.
One building at the south end of the old campus has one of the new “Modern Historical Architecture” plaques put up by the Nanjing city government on some buildings around town in 2008. This plaque dates the building’s construction to 1916 and states in Chinese that it was once part of the “Jinling Daxue Jiuzhi.” Undated photos in the online Yale University archive call this building the “New Library,” with captions saying it held 440,000 volumes. The original library was on the second and third floors of Severance Hall. Presumably the library outgrew the space available in Severance Hall, and then this New Library was built to the south of Twinem Chapel. However, since Severance Hall was built in 1919 the chronology of the 2008 plaque on the New Library must be wrong when it states the building was constructed in 1916.
Although this is an improvement on the lack of accurate historical signage before, none of the main buildings on the old Quad have any of these markers, including Bailie Hall, Swasey Hall, and Severance Hall. However, the previous administration building once known as Severance Hall does have an original cornerstone dated 1919 that is still visible and has not been covered up, as most of them have.
Inside the entrance to the historic building on the right side of the Quad, which used to be known as the Swasey Sience Hall, there is still a round metal Western astrological zodiac embedded in the floor, but it is hidden under a dirty glass window covered with muddy foot prints. This building is now the Geophysics School.
The Spanish colonial villa near the south gate of the old campus is now appropriately home to the “Office of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs,” but was previously the residence of Guomindang General He Yingqin (1890-1987) according to two new plaques erected since my book on Nanjing was published back in 2004. One plaque dated June 2006 simply states in Chinese “He Yingqin Gong Guan,” but a second plaque dated October 2009 is much more detailed. According to the latter plaque, the house was originally built in 1934, then destroyed by fire during the Sino-Japanese War, and later rebuilt in 1945 after the war was over.
All in all, the historic buildings have been kept in good condition, and are still in use, but their historic names and dates of construction are not labeled, with the exceptions mentioned above. Of the buildings that are labeled with plaques marking their historic significance, and the other monuments to the site’s previous existence as Jinling University, all of the inscriptions are written completely in the Chinese language, meaning that the average visiting foreigner would never be able to decipher them, which is pretty odd for the campus of a university originally founded by Christian missionaries from America. Nonetheless, the present university administration and local government authorities have at least made an improvement to the public historical record over the past 8 years since my book on Nanjing was published in 2004. There has been some progress.
The next steps would be to label each historic building with its former English name and date of construction with bilingual signs in both English and Chinese. There should also be statues erected to the school’s real founders, Arthur J. Bowen, John E. Williams, and Joseph Bailie, side by side with that of Chen Yuguang. The lie that the school was founded in 1902 by Zhang Zhidong, and that Nanjing Daxue is a direct descendant of Guoli Zhongyang Daxue also needs to be rectified some day by revising the school’s official logo, which still bears the incorrect date of 1902. Nanjing Daxue was in fact founded in 1951. If its present administrators ever want to admit that it is descended from Jinling Daxue then the date of founding could be considered to be 1911, when the three smaller previous missionary schools were unified, or 1888 when John C. Ferguson founded Nanking University. The administrators of Jinling Daxue also considered the latter to be their date of founding and celebrated the 60th anniversary in 1948.
The south entrance gate to the historic campus of Nanjing Daxue can be found at 22 Hankou Lu, but the north gate faces Beijing Xi Lu.
The website of the present-day Nanjing University [http://www.nju.edu.cn/html/eng/AboutfhNJU/IntorductionfhNJU] features an official history of the institution dated November 16, 2007. For some reason it has not been updated in the past four years, probably because there is no further evidence to support the torturous logic behind the politically correct assertions it makes.
“Nanjing University … dates from 1902 when it was known as Sanjiang Normal School. During the following decades, it evolved as Liangjiang Normal School, Nanjing Higher Normal School, National Southeast University, the Fourth Zhongshan University, and National Central University. On August 8, 1949, National Central University was renamed National Nanjing University. In October 1950 … the name was changed to Nanjing University (NJU). In 1952 … merged with the School of Liberal Arts and the School of Sciences of the University of Nanking founded in 1888. Its name remained while its campus moved from Sipailou to Gulou.”
In fact this entire history through 1951 relates to the former National Central University (Guoli Zhongyang Daxue), which is now the present-day Southeast University (Dong Nan Daxue) located on its historic campus at Sipailou, behind Beijing Dong Lu, across the street from Beijige and the municipal government compound. This torturous logic that because National Central University was supposedly called Nanjing University for barely one year, and that when the name was moved to the present site it retained all the previous history of National Central History, absolutely boggles the mind. In fact, the University of Nanking was taken over by the government in early 1951, putting even this part of the official chronology into question.
It goes on to summarize the whole history of National Central University, as if it were the history of Nanjing University, in one place saying “during the Anti-Japanese Ware…the university (then known as National Central University)…,” and recounts the 1947 demonstrations by students at National Central University, as if these had been students at Nanjing University.
There are repeated references to the school’s “100 years history,” and mention of how in “May 2002, NJU celebrated its 100th anniversary.”
In short, this entire official history of the school is false, except for the one sentence about the merger with the University of Nanking in 1952, an event which actually happened one year earlier in 1951. The extra intervening year in the chronology is made necessary by the need to pretend that NJU had previously been established at the site of National Central University in 1950.
The one dose of reality in the official website’s history of the school is the brief reference to Pearl S. Buck as one of the “famous scientists and scholars” who had “studied or worked here.” This is surprising considering Zhou Enlai’s famous refusal to allow Buck to return to China just before she died. Furthermore, she is the only foreigner mentioned in the official history of the school. There is no mention of Arthur J. Bowen, John E. Williams, or Joseph Bailie.
On another page of the same official website there is a description of the “The History Museum of Nanjing University,” which is housed in the former New Library of the University of Nanking. According to this description, “Founded in 2002, the History Museum of Nanjing University overviews the university’s one hundred years of history (1902-2002)…” Once again, the myth that the school was founded in 1902 is pure fiction.
A third page of the official website describes The Alumni Association of Nanjing University, and notes that it has “80 branch associations, including alumni associations of the National Central University and the University of Nanking.”
This last part hints at the school’s slightly revised perspective on its own history, which has evolved from completely ignoring and denying any connection with the previous University of Nanking to claiming a joint heritage from both it and the former National Central University. However, it continues to ignore any contributions made by foreigners to the establishment of the University of Nanking. The only name of an individual ever mentioned in relation to the history the University of Nanking is Chen Yuguang [陈裕光] the Chinese president of Jinling Daxue from 1928 to 1951. The names of the foreign presidents, vice-presidents, and faculty members before his tenure as president are never mentioned in the official history of the school today.
The reorientation of NJU’s official history from one of totally ignoring the University of Nanking to one of claiming a dual heritage from both the University of Nanking and National Central University started in 1988 with the publication by the NJU press of 金陵大学建校一百周年纪念册 (Jinling Daxue Jian Xiao Yi Bai Zhounian Jinian Ce), 南京大学出版社 (Nanjing Daxue Chubanshe), 1988. 458 pages. This volume was meant to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of the founding of the University of Nanking. The author is officially cited as the Alumni Association of the University of Nanking [金陵大学南京校友会] (Jinling Daxue Nanjing Xiaoyou Hui) although it had no involvement by any foreign editors or contributors outside of mainland China. Chinese historian Tai Wangshu misleadingly cites this source by the supposed English title The History of the University of Nanking from 1888 to 1988, when in fact it was only published under its Chinese title, which he does not provide, and this is simply his own rather creative rendering of a translation of it. An alternate translation of the Chinese title would be, “100thAnniversary of Jinling University School Yearbook.” This book was not distributed outside of mainland China.
Next, this was followed in 1989 with the publication by NJU of a collection of selected excerpts from primary documents related to the history of the University of Nanking, 金陵大学史料集(Jinling Daxue Shiliaoji), 南京大学出版社 (Nanjing Daxue Chubanshe), 1989, 366 pages. However, the edited contents were chosen by Chinese editors in a highly selective fashion intended to shape a distorted view of the University of Nanking’s history that conformed to official Communist Party ideology. The selections emphasize the role of Chen Yuguang and other Chinese after 1927, while ignoring the contribution of foreigners before that, and try to present a case for a trend towards secularization of the curriculum after 1927. Thus, a Christian college founded by foreigners becomes in this volume a secular Chinese college run exclusively by Chinese people. Tai Wangshu renders the English translation of this volume’s title as “A Collection of Historical Documents of the University of Nanking,” but fails to provide the original Chinese characters for readers to double check his translation.
After that came a third publication issued by NJU in 2002, 金陵大学史 (Jinling Daxue Shi), 南京大学出版社 (Nanjing Daxue Chubanshe), 2002, 589 pages, the purported author of which was 张宪文 (Zhang Xianwen), and the title of which could simply be translated as “The History of Jinling University,” although once again it was published only in Chinese and not distributed outside of China.
Finally, according to a lengthy and detailed account hidden deep in the news archive section of NJU’s official website [http://www.nju.edu.cn/html/eng/News/358ee655-de2b-4c24-8e65-0bf15fd2b2b7.html], on the morning of September 27th 2008 NJU celebrated the “120th anniversary of the founding of the University of Nanking” in “NJU’s Auditorium,” which used to be the former Twinem Memorial Chapel, although this is not stated by the article. The ceremony was presided over by NJU President Chen Jun and attended by “around 260 alumni of the University of Nanking.” The history of U of N was briefly but fairly accurately stated as having been “founded in 1888” with “64 years of existence” before it was replaced in “1952” by the “new Nanjing University.” Once again the U of N’s demise was post-dated by one year later than actuality. Some kind words were said about U of N, including that it “introduced the Western educational system into modern China and thus promoted the exchange between the Chinese and Western cultures.” While news of this event might at first give historians hope that NJU had finally seen the light of truth, such was not the case.
Despite the statement in Chen Jun’s speech that U of N was replaced in 1952 by the “new Nanjing University,” a torturous attempt at connecting NJU with “the former National Central University,” was still made. As a result, it was concluded that “the University of Nanking is regarded as [only] one of NJU’s origin.” In other words, the dual heritage thesis was being confirmed. In the minds of official Chinese policy makers, NJU had to be linked to both U of N and NCU. In fact, in attendance in the audience was Feng Duan president of the alumni association of National Central University.
In addition to asserting the dual heritage theory, one purpose of this event was to appeal to overseas Chinese who had attended U of N but fled the country in 1949 to return to the motherland. This is apparent by the presence of Yin Fasheng, deputy director of the United Front Work Department of Jiangsu Province, as well as Sun Yongqing, president of the alumni association of the University of Nanking in Taiwan. A third purpose was to continue the same distorted theme presented in the three previously published volumes on the history of U of N that it had been a secular institution run by Chinese. This was done by erecting the bronze statue of Chen Yuguang which now stands in the campus garden, while once again ignoring the contributions made the schools true founders, who were Christian foreigners.
In 2011 Chinese Historian Tai Wangshu published an English language paper entitled, “Liberal Arts and China’s Christian Colleges: A Case Study of the University of Nanking,” through the auspices of Colgate University. By relying almost exclusively on the three Chinese language sources published by NJU cited above, which it has been said may suffer from an inherent bias of intentionally fitting a political agenda, and at the same time failing to use any of the primary sources left behind by the school’s Christian missionary founders, such as the UBCHEA archives held at Yale University, Tai risks being merely a messenger carrying the official propaganda of the present regime to a Western audience.
South East University (Dong Nan Daxue)
Since 1952 the administrators of Nanjing Daxue have appropriated the history of Southeast University as if it were their own. Therefore, it seems legitimate to recite the history of that institution here.
Southeast University’s ancestor, Sanjiang Normal College (Sanjiang Shifan Xue Tang), was established in 1902 by Zhang Zhidong, then Governor-General of the Liangjiang provinces. It was renamed Liangjiang Normal College (Liangjiang Shifan Xue Tang) in 1905, and evolved into Southeast University (Dong Nan Daxue) between 1921 and 1923. After briefly being known as the Fourth Zhongshan University for just one year, in 1928 the name was changed again to National Central University (Guoli Zhongyang Daxue). As the main public university of the Guomindang regime, this was the scene of countless student protests and demonstrations against the government during the 1930s and 1940s. After the 1949 revolution the name was changed again in 1952 to the Nanjing Institute of Technology (Nanjing Gong Xue Yuan). However, in May 1988 the name was changed back to its pre-1928 name of Southeast University (Dong Nan Daxue).
The university’s enormous green campus campus is still dominated by historic relics of the Min Guo era. Located in an area known as Si Pai Lou (Four Memorial Gates), the campus is bounded on the east by Cheng Xian Jie, on the north by Beijing Dong Lu, and to the west by Jin Xiang He Lu, a street named after a stream that once flowed past the campus there. The monumental gateway to the campus, with its four square pillars, still stands on its southern boundary facing Si Pai Lou road. The top of this gate has borne all the many name changes experienced by the university over the years, just as its flagpole has borne witness to the rise and fall of many political regimes.
Straight ahead from this main gate down the central tree-lined campus avenue is National Central University’s impressive Auditorium (Da Li Tang) with its octagonal dome. The Da Li Tang was completed on October 10, 1931, and was last repaired in 1994. It was designed by architect Yang Tingbao, a professor at the university whose house still stands across the street from the campus on Cheng Xian Jie. The original weather-beaten foundation stone can still be found in the southeast corner of the building. It reads, “Guoli Zhongyang Daxue Da Li Tang Dian Ji Jinian Zhonghua Minguo Shi Jiu Nian Shi Yue Shi Hao.” Inside an octagonal hallway leads in two directions from the front lobby to various entrances into the theater. Inside the theater itself a stage stands at the north end, double rows of balconies look down upon the stage from the three other directions, and a glass skylight in the very top of the octagonal dome overhead lets in natural sunlight.
Guomindang Party Congresses were held in this hall, starting with the May 1931 Fourth Party Congress that adopted the 1931 Constitution. During the Sino-Japanese war this auditorium was converted into a Japanese military hospital, and a giant red cross was painted over the outside of its dome to prevent it from being bombed.
To the west of the central avenue, before reaching the Da Li Tang, is the original Library (Tushuguan) building of Southeast University, built between 1922 and 1923, and expanded again in 1933. Its exterior is dominated by four large Roman columns, while its interior has the musty air of a historic building that has yet to be renovated. A Chinese language exhibit on the university’s history is displayed inside on the ground floor.
Several other Min Guo halls frame the main quadrangle of the campus, but none as impressive as the Library or Da Li Tang. An odd omission is the absence of any statue or memorial devoted to the school’s founder Zhang Zhidong.
Address: #2 Si Pai Lou
University of Nanking (Jinling Daxue) Photos[caption id="attachment_959" align="aligncenter" width="580" caption="Inscribed stone block beside the statue of Chen Yuguang [陈裕光"]shows his dates of birth and death, along with his tenure as president, which is predated one year too early.”][/caption]
Ginling College (Jinling Nuzi Daxue) Photos
[More digital photos to come soon. Stay tuned for the epilogue.]