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Happy Birthday, Professor Hou!

DEC . 13 2011

Peking University, Dec.12, 2011: Professor Hou Renzhi, a beloved professor of Peking University (PKU) and China's most prominent scholar in the field of historical geography, had his 100th birthday on Dec.6. To celebrate his birthday, on that day, Professor Zhou Qifeng, PKU President, went to PKU Hospital to visit Professor Hou and brought him sincere wishes from PKU students and teachers.


Though Professor Hou was in hospital currently, his room was filled with joy; he was still in good mood and was excited about his special birthday. President Zhou wished Professor Hou Happy Birthday on behalf of the university. He told Professor Hou that his profound knowledge and noble personalities had been always admired by the whole university. President Zhou also wrote a congratulation letter to express his best wishes for Professor Hou. 


Professor Zhou Qifeng was visiting Professor Hou Renzhi

Meanwhile, Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong also sent a congratulation letter herself to Professor Hou on the afternoon of Dec. 6. She said in the letter that Professor Hou had experienced and witnessed the process of Chinese revolution, construction and reform. He put his own pursuit into country’s development process and set the basis for Modern Chinese Historical Geography. He was also a key figure in efforts to preserve the architecture and cityscapes of old Beijing and integrated them with the emerging modern metropolis. At the same time, Professor Hou, who not only devoted himself into development of education but also cultivated many talents, should become a model of the whole society.


To celebrate the 100th birthday for Professor Hou Renzhi, the PKU Library and Research Center for Historical Geography worked together to hold an exhibition at PKU Library on Dec.6. This exhibition was divided into two parts, namely display board and related materials . There were 15 boards to introduce Professor Hou’s life and contributions. The material objects, including Professor Hou’s books, certificates, photos and letters with his teacher, published papers, etc.


Extended reading:

Hou Renzhi, historical geographer, was born in Zaoqiang, Hebei Province, in December 1911. In 1932, Hou entered the Department of History in Yenching University, where he received both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts degree. In 1940, Hou continued his research in Yenching University as an instructor in history. In December 1941, during the time of the Japanese invasion, Hou was arrested and then released in June of 1942; however, he continued to be denied freedom of movement and travel. After the victory of the Anti-Japanese War, in the summer of 1946, Hou went to the Department of Geography in Liverpool University in England to pursue advanced studies.

In 1949, upon receiving his Doctor of Philosophy Degree, Hou returned as quickly as possible to China, his motherland. Three days right before the founding of the People's Republic of China, Hou arrived in Beijing. He was appointed Associate Professor, Professor of History at Yenching University. After 1952, when academic institutions and departments in China underwent reorganization, Hou had several duties in Peking University, including Deputy Director of Academic Studies at PKU, Professor and Chairman of the Geological and Geography Department, Professor and Chairman of the Geography Department and Director of the Institute of Historical Geography.

In 1980, Hou was elected Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In Liverpool University in 1984, Hou received the degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris causa). Then, in 1999, Hou was awarded the distinguished George Davidson Medal by the American Geographical Society.

Hou's main research achievements may be found in his book entitled Historical Geography: Theory and Practice. After the publication of this book, there followed a series of monographs and articles which were published for the first time in succession. Another book, Four Treatises on Historical Geography, discussed major theoretical issues. Hou was also the author of many works on popular science for the general public. He then was elected honorary member of the Chinese Society for Popular Science.


Written by: Xu Yang
Edited By: Qian Xin