Home       Sitemap      About Us      简体中文
Home» News» News» Campus» [Anniversary 2013] Yenching University 1921: A "Peking" perspective

[Anniversary 2013] Yenching University 1921: A "Peking" perspective

News & Events | About PKU News | Contact | Site Search




A special edition of Peking University News in commemorating the 115th anniversary of the university (PKU/Beida).  



Peking University, May 4, 2013: As Peking University is celebrating its 115th anniversary, the English term "Peking University" was not monopolized; it has been used to refer to several higher education institutions in Beijing at different times.


“Huiwen Daxue” (Huiwen University), or the Methodist University of Peking, was one of the precursors of Yanjing Daxue/Yenching University. Founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church in the 1880s in the Chinese capital, Huiwen called itself “Peking University” in English, which was inherited by Yenching before the latter launched its new official English title in the 1920s.


The official English appellation of today's Beida then was the Government University of Peking (1912-1919), and the National University of Peking from 1919.


Yanjing Daxue, the then named "Peking" university, published an official English brochure in 1921 titled "Peking University." Excerpts follow:



The cover


The university motto: FREEDOM through TRUTH for SERVICE


Map of the new Yenching site: Yan Yuan 







Statements from Well Known Men Who Know


JOHN KELMAN, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, New York, in China in 1921.

  "Peking University will have no rival in the whole Republic. Its influence will be most powerful in connection with the present intellectual movement among students, and it will stand for all that promises a great future for the magnificent national genius of China."


JOHN R. MOTT, World Student Leader.

  "I have no hesitation whatever in saying that there should be at Peking one of the strongest Christian Universities, not only in China, but in Asia."


HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, First Presbyterian Church, New York, who visited China in 1921.

  "The biggest need of China is a thoroughly trained Christian leadership developed from its own sons."

  "Never before in my life have I seen a more strategic opportunity than the one before Peking University."


ARTHUR H. SMITH, Veteran Missionary and Author.

  "Peking has become one of the most important intellectual centers in China for Christian Education. The best fruits of Christian Education should be brought to bear upon the intellectual and moral life of the Chinese at this vital center."


THOMAS W. LAMONT, of The International Consortium for China.

  "All of us who have been in China have this feeling of friendship and desire to help, especially through such work as that which is being done by the Christian Mission, and by Christian Schools and Colleges such as Peking University. I visited that University and was much impressed by it."


JULEAN ARNOLD, American Commercial Attaché at Peking:

  "The leaders of the new China must be men and women of strong Christian character, if China is to be a blessing to modern civilization. One could not conceive of a better opportunity for training such leaders than a first-class university of national importance, situated at the capital and under Christian auspices."


PAUL S. REINSCH, United States Minister to China, 1913-1919.

  "Altogether there appears to me to be no opportunity in educational life today of quite such scope and possibility as that of a Christian university cultivating liberal and scientific studies at the capital of China, where the ideas and methods and institutions that will prevail in this vast country are being discussed and formed."


CHARLES R. CRANE, United States Minister to China, 1920-1921.

  "Situated at the political and intellectual capital of the country, Peking University has unrivalled opportunities to train the national leaders of the future and to raise moral and educational standards throughout the whole country. The attractive grounds recently secured near Peking, the fine quality of the teaching personnel, and the valuable traditions of the older schools are noteworthy assets for the new union enterprise. Failure to secure in America generous and adequate support for Peking University will be a calamity for Christianity and China."



Peking is situated in the temperate zone facing, toward the south, great tropical and semitropical areas and, toward the north, the fertile wheat-fields and vast forests of Manchuria and Siberia and the cattle-covered stretches of Mongolia.


Over the ever-narrowing Pacific, the traveler from Vancouver in fourteen days reaches Shanghai, and in thirty-four hours a train with modern equipment carries him from Shanghai to Peking. In normal times fourteen days will bring him from Peking to London via Mukden, Harbin, Chita, Moscow, and Berlin.


Kalgan, bordering on the great Mongolian Plain and connected with Peking by a wonderful railroad up through the Mongolian Pass, is "destine to become the Kansas City of the Far East, in point of cattle and hide production."


"No city in the world," says a professor of architecture in one of our chief American universities, "can compare with Peking in plan and stateliness of design." The Northern City, laid out by the master mind of Kublai Khan in 1264, is really formed of three concentric walled-cities, the outer one encircling the Imperial City, where are located the official residences and government buildings, and the Imperial City enclosing the Forbidden City, containing the palaces of the Emperor. In the Southern City is centered the main commercial life; yet within its bounds, removed from the busy thronging thoroughfares and in the midst of a tree-filled park, are the Temple and Altar of Heaven, the latter, next to Mount Zion in Jerusalem, being the most significant place of worship in the world.


A million people live within the twenty-one miles of the city's walls——walls built in 1420 and characterized by lofty gates and massive towers from which are seen "the upturned roofs and yellow glazed tiles, glittering among the groves of trees with which the city abounds."



Peking——A Great World Center

FOR centuries the Chinese have called their country "The Middle Nation," considering all other nations as on their border. That geographical idea has passed away but the progress of world movements is making the name "Middle Nation" real again in a new sense.



For centuries millions of the Chinese race have looked toward this great and unique city of Peking with the eagerness of the Jew to Jerusalem and of the Mohammedan toward Mecca. In this storied city of the East is to be seen today the concentration of many forces, political, economic, and educational, which are to radiate throughout the whole land and have a large part in shaping and determining the destiny of the world's civilization.



When, a decade and a half ago, China began to adopt western education, thousands of students flocked to Tokyo for training on modern lines. Such students now for the most part go to Peking. There are now in Peking about seventeen thousand students of high school grade and above, and nearly two-thirds of all the higher educational institutions under the Chinese Government are in this great educational center, every Provincial capital and important town being represented. The national educational authorities who determine the policy of primary and high school education are also in Peking.


It was the students of Peking who formed in 1919 a city-wide student union and started a national movement which powerfully moved the whole people. By arousing the business guilds and the educational and agricultural associations in every large city in China, for the first time they have created a real public opinion in non-official educated China.



China's "Renaissance" as it is called, or "The New Culture Movement," centers in Peking. On January 1, 1919, there was but one magazine in China promoting new ideas, which was printed in the colloquial Mandarin. Three of the professors of the Government University in Peking, returned students, respectively from America, England, and France, decided to popularize the spoken language in printed form. Through their inspiration within three years there have been issued in China over four hundred different publications. The object of the movement is to popularize the spoken language in printed form and thus introduce in China the whole gamut of modern scientific thought and social philosophy. Its motto is: "Save the Nation through Democracy and Science."


The results of the Movement have been two-fold. First, the tendency among the students has been distinctly towards radical socialism. Everything from the latest psychology to the most extreme school of philosophical anarchy filled the pages of these magazines. Secondly, the young men, entirely devoid of old prejudices, are looking eagerly for anything to help their country. If religion and a new type of morality can be shown of value they will accept it.



As a result of the "China for Christ Movement" the entire program of the Christian Church in Peking is being met by a cooperative program in which the twenty-two organized churches of the city and over five thousand Christians are being enlisted. The Churches, the Y. M. C. A., and the Y. W. C. A. have an organically united Christian work for college students with a city-wide program. Theological students can see the Christian movement at its best in Peking.


The newly formed combination of the Sociology Faculty of the University and the Community Service Department of the Y. M. C. A. with the close cooperation of the Public Health Department of the Union Medical College, assures a strong constructive, united service program in Peking. This city offers a practical laboratory for training the coming leaders of Church and State.



These movements, which are most powerfully influencing and transforming China today, center in Peking. The relation of Peking University with the Government educational institutions is most cordial for it is now generally recognized that the Christian University is working for the uplift and progress of China.


For ages China has placed the scholar first. The heroes have not been warriors, but sages. Few peoples as a whole, lettered and unlettered, have ever honored learning as have the Chinese. Beyond doubt America's friendliness in no way can be so finely and so happily expressed as by cooperation in higher education; at no place can it be more vividly and pervasively manifested than in strengthening the university in this great capital, well called the "Capital of Asia," which now has become the national center for government, for art, and for education.



Peking University


Its History. The institutions combined in the present university all have important histories. Tungchou College was founded in 1867; the original Peking University in 1870; the Women's College in 1905; the Theological School in 1906. The present union went into effect in 1917.


Its Aim. The University has been founded by Christian leaders of the West to furnish the best quality of intellectual and religious leadership for China. The hope of China lies in the training of a new type of young manhood and womanhood who have the education and the character to bring about a better political and social order in China and who can lead their people to share in a similar task for the world.


Its Departments. The University consists of a College of Arts and Sciences for Men, a College for Women, and a School of Religion. Definite plans are being laid for a School of Journalism, a School of Education, and a School of Vocational Training. Other departments will be added as funds are provided. The curriculum is standardized under the Regents of the University of the State of New York. An Agricultural and Animal Husbandry Experiment Station, financed by Chinese locally, a Bureau of Industry to help solve industrial problems in China, and a Pre-medical Course preparing students for the rigid requirements of Peking Union Medical College, are part of the University's developing plans.


Its Faculty. The present faculty numbers seventy-one men and women holding degrees from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Michigan, Cornell, Northwestern, California, Wooster, Missouri, Oberlin, Smith, Holyoke, Goucher, and Wellesley.


Its Organization. The University is incorporated according to the laws of the State of New York, and its control rests in a Board of Trustees with headquarters in New York City, cooperating with a Board of Managers in China. An advisory council for the University has also been formed in America.


Its Finances. The present budget calls for an annual expenditure of about $90,000. Part of this is raised locally through students' fees and from gifts; the remainder comes from the church boards and friends. Several American Universities provide representatives on the Faculty, Wellesley contributing toward the Women's College, and the Hill School, Princeton, and the University of Southern California toward the Men's College.


Its New Site. The Colleges, out of which the University has been formed, were in different locations, housed in buildings inadequate for present University needs. A site of about one hundred acres has been secured in an ideal location on the road leading to the Summer Palace, and buildings are planned that combine the artistic lines of the best Chinese architecture and the space and equipment needed for modern University work. Several buildings have already been promised as memorials and construction will be pushed as rapidly as funds are available. Just as soon as possible the University will occupy the new site and begin to care for the increasing number of students asking for admission from every province in China.


Both Trustees and Faculty anticipate with great eagerness the day when with an adequate equipment the University may be at least partially able to meet "the unparalleled opportunity" before it.


Architect's Estimate for Building on New Site

(Numbers refer to key-chart of the bird's-eye view on center pages)

Administration and Library Building (No. 9)…………………………………………..$100,000

Dormitory Buildings (for 120 Students) (No. 11) each…………………………………50, 000

Dining Hall with Dormitories (for 30 Students) on lower floor (No. 12)………………..35,000

Entire Quadrangle—Two Dormitories (No. 11) and Dining Hall (No. 12)—270 Students. . . 135,000

Recitation Halls—Small (No. 3) each…………………………………………………....35,000

Large (No. 3) each…………………………………………………....65,000

Science Halls (No. 6, 8) each……………………………………………………………..65,000

Heating, Lighting and Water Plant………………………………………………………..50,000

Residences for Faculty (to be built on land adjoining) each……………………………..7,000

Bungalow Residences (to be built on land adjoining) each……………………………..5,000


The constituent Colleges, which went to form Peking University, in order actually to unite in one place, gave up their former college buildings to Preparatory Schools, and are now carrying on their work temporarily in little, inadequate Chinese buildings. In order to make possible the removal to the new site, the sum of $300,000 is urgently needed. This amount would provide for two Dormitories, one Dining Hall, one Science Hall, one Recitation Hall, fifteen regular residences and four Bungalow residences, heat, lighting, and water plant, etc.


Divided into periods the building plans call for funds as follows:

First Period……………………………………………………………………………….$870,000

Second Period……………………………………………………………………………600, 000

Third Period………………………………………………………………………………390, 000





Further detailed information may be secured by writing to the office of Peking University, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York.


Board of Trustees

(Incorporated in the State of New York)

Luther B. Wilson, President          Eric M. North, Secretary

Arthur Perry, Vice-President          E. M. McBrier, Treasurer

Franklin H. Warner, Chairman, Executive Committee

Mrs. J. M. Avann

James L. Barton

Arthur J. Brown

Mrs. George M. Clark

Thomas Cochrane

John F. Goucher

F. H. Hawkins

William V. Kelley

William P. Merrill

Frank Mason North

Richard Roberts

William P. Schell

George T. Scott

James M. Speers

William J. Thompson

Ralph A. Ward

Mrs. O. R. Williamson

W. C. Willoughby



Board of Managers, Peking

L. R. O. Bevan

Thomas Biggin

G. T. Candlin

Chang Po Ling

C. H. Corbett

Chas. R. Crane

Board of Managers, Peking

G. L. Davis

Fei Chi Hao

H. S. Gait

W. H. Gleysteen

W. T. Hobart

N. S. Hopkins

0. J. Krause

Miss E. E. Leonard,M.D.

Li Tien Lu

J. B. Liddell

Miss Luella Miner

L. C. Porter

T. A. Scott

E. J. Stuckey

Y. T. Tsur

Wang Chung Hoi

G. D. Wilder



Officers of Administration, Peking

Lucius C. Porter, B.A., B.D., Dean of College of Arts and Science for Men

J. Leighton Stuart, D.D., President

Hiram H. Lowry, D.D., President Emeritus

Henry W. Luce, M.A., D.D., Vice-President

Miss Luella Miner, M.A., Litt.D., Dean of College of Arts and Science for Women

Oliver J. Krause, B.A., Treasurer

W. T. Hobart, B.D., D.D., Dean of School of Theology



H. K. Caskey, Executive Secretary, 156 Fifth Avenue, New York



Edited by: Yan Shengnan

Tag: Anniversary 2013