Emory Report
October 22, 2007
Volume 60, Number 8

Emory Report homepage  

October 22, 2007
Exhibit traces Emory graduate’s impact on 19th-century China

By Victor rogers

The work of Emory College graduate Young John Allen (1836–1907), a missionary, journalist, translator, publisher and educator, is the subject of a Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library exhibition, “China on My Mind: Young John Allen’s Journey from Emory to Shanghai.”

The display of letters, journals, photographs, rare books, writings and artifacts celebrates Allen’s achievements as a mediator between East and West. It also recalls Emory’s long-standing ties to China, Japan and Korea, said Eric Reinders, associate professor of religion and one of the exhibition’s curators.

“The first international students at Emory, T. H. Yun from Korea and T. K. Tsoong from China, arrived at Oxford in 1892 after studying with Allen at the Anglo-Chinese College in Shanghai,” said Reinders.
“Currently, there is a lot of interest in this collection among Chinese scholars, which just goes to show that even today, Allen is the basis of internationalization at Emory.”

Allen graduated from Emory College in 1858 and married a fellow Georgian, Mary Houston, the following day. The next year the couple departed for missionary service in China.

While in China, Allen edited various newspapers, among them the Wanguo gongbao (A Review of the Times), the single most influential news magazine in 19th-century China, said Joachim Kurtz, assistant professor of Chinese.

“Allen’s writings helped to inspire Chinese scholars and officials calling for social and political reforms,” Kurtz said. “He helped to communicate Western concepts of economics, international relations, natural science and gender equality to an increasingly receptive Chinese reading public.”

Allen also founded and supported educational institutions, such as the Anglo-Chinese College in Shanghai and Suzhou University.

Allen’s personal papers, housed in MARBL, are one of the richest collections documenting the life and works of any individual China missionary held in the United States, according to Reinders. The 36-box assemblage includes diaries, letters, photographs, missionary lists, clippings and subject files, sermons, essays, printed works and personal possessions.

The exhibition, on view through Jan. 15, 2008, is on the second floor of the Woodruff Library and is free and open to the public.

For more information, call 404-727-6887 or e-mail marbl@emory.edu.