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‘A Chinese Professor from Shanghai University is Tracking his Father’s Footprint in Glasgow University’

Back in September 2013, we warmly received a visit from Professor Rujian Lin of the School of Communication & Information Engineering at Shanghai University, who came to see the University records of his father, Chi Yung Lin, BSc 1924.

Prof Lin kindly sent us a draft of his father’s experiences in Glasgow:

A Chinese Professor from Shanghai University is Tracking his Father’s Footprint in Glasgow University

Prof Rujian Lin, born in 1939 in Sichuan Province, China is a retired and adjunct professor of Shanghai University in Fiber Optics and Optical Access Networks. He visited Glasgow University in June 2011  and September 2013  to seek and track the footprint of his father, Chi Yung Lin in Glasgow almost 100 years ago.

Chi Yung Lin was a student at the University of Glasgow in engineering during 1915-1924. While in Glasgow he also studied at Royal Technical College during 1915-1920. In social activities he performed as the Chinese secretary of Glasgow University Sino-Scottish Society in the sessions 1919-1920 and 1920-1921.

Sino-Scottish Society session 1925/26 (UP8/9/1)

The Sino-Scottish Society session 1925/26 (UP8/9/1)

Besides the study in Glasgow University, Chi Yung Lin worked for Caledonian Railway Company for almost seven years through the ranks of apprentice, technician and at last engineer when Caledonian Railway was absorbed in London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923. He left the company and UK in 1925.

Chi Yung Lin’s route to UK was closely linked to the creation of the Republic of China in 1911, when aged 19 as a student soldier he took part in the Wuchang Uprising that led to the Xinhai Revolution. The revolution ended thousands of years of imperial rule in China and signaled the fall of the Qing Dynasty when China’s last emperor Pu Yi was removed from the throne.

Chi Yung Lin, along with over 70 other students, was then selected according to their contribution to the revolution and sent overseas to Europe and North America by the first Chinese President, Sun Yat-Sen. Mr. Lin came to Glasgow to study civil engineering in order to learn the necessary knowledge and skills for constructing China’s railways under the great plan of Sun Yat-Sen.

After finishing his study in the major courses at Royal Technical College he briefly returned to China in 1918 after World War One to report to the Education Ministry of Beijing government, but at that time China was still in turmoil as warlords vied for power, so he came back to Scotland to continue his study at Glasgow University and engineering practice in Caledonian Railway before finally settling back in China in 1925.

After returning to China, Chi Yung Lin worked in various jobs including:

  • 1926-1927 Director of Construction Bureau of Chengdu, Sichuan Province
  • 1928            Engineer of Railroad Ministry, Chinese government, Nanjing
  • 1929-1935  Professor, Head of Civil Engineering Department, Central       University of China, Nanjing
  • 1936-1937  Chief Engineer of Huai River Conduction Committee, Chinese government, Nanjing
  • 1938-1947  Senior Engineer of Construction Bureau of Sichuan Province
  • 1948-1952  Professor, Head of Civil Engineering Department, Dean of Engineering College, Sichuan University
  • 1953-1962  Professor, Chengdu Engineering Institute

Reviewing Chi Yung Lin’s life in UK and China,his son, Prof. Rujian Lin, is always feeling indebted to universities of UK which educated Chinese students to be intellectual scholars and engineers, giving them the ability to contribute to the China’s re-construction and serve Chinese people. In 10-20’s of last century, among the Chinese students in England and Scotland, Chi Yung Lin had a few closed friends who were Mr. Sze Kwang Li at Birmingham University, Mr. Kho-Seng Lim at Medical College, Edinburgh University and Chong En Lee at Medical College, Glasgow University. They became the famous geologist, physiologist and medical specialist respectively after returning to China. Prof. Rujian Lin sincerely hopes the friendship and professional exchange between universities of China and UK will be developed forever.”

Professor Lin continues to research his father’s experiences and hopes to eventually write a book on early Chinese students who came to the UK for their education.



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The German Class of 1890

Following on from Germany’s World Cup win, we thought it was an opportune time to write about the unusual German Class of 1890.

Not until 1887 was a part-time lectureship in Modern Languages first established at the University, and it was Dr Ernst Elster who received the appointment as lecturer of German Language and Literature (GUA21932, 27 Nov 1886 Letter from Dr Emile Elster to Professor Young applying to be allowed to give lectures in German language and literature).

Elster went on to appointments as Professor of German Literature in the universities of Leipzig and Marburg, and was followed in post by Dr Hermann Georg Fiedler, in 1889, (later Professor of German at Oxford University); and in 1890 by Dr Alexander Tille.

It was the German Literature course given during the academic sessions of 1889 and 1890 that attracted the most attention as around 15 German students matriculated for the class. They were

  • Letter from Emile Elster to Prof Young, 27 Nov 1886 (GUA21932)

    Letter from Emile Elster to Prof Young, 27 Nov 1886 (GUA21932)

    Johann Nicolaus Kiep

  • Ernst Alfred Schmidt
  • Samuel Ernst George Von Schulze
  • Simonis
  • Forss Rottenburg
  • Paul Rottenburg
  • Koppern
  • Heinrich Eberhard
  • Max Tuch
  • August Hafter
  • Adolf R Hertwig
  • Alfred Himi
  • Carl Schneider
  • Vockel
  • Walter Arend

As the information they provided on their matriculation slips is sparse, it could suggest that all were residents of and working in Glasgow at the time, like Johann Nicolaus Kiep,  who was serving as Imperial Consul at Glasgow at the time of his matriculation and had extended family connections in the Glasgow area.

Interest in the teaching of Modern Languages as a legitimate subject-area of study in British universities wasn’t developed late in the nineteenth-century and with an amount of opposition, as student Editor Carol Hunter noted in her blog post on the first appointee to the Lectureship of French Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow in 1895, Alfred Mercier. So this German class of 1890 shows to a great extent that the introduction of teaching of Modern Languages at University was actively supported by diverse members of the local community who were eager to foster international understanding and relationships through education.


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Bahamian Independence

Here at Archive Services, we are in a particularity celebratory mood – not just because of the imminent Commonwealth Games or the International Story GRAB lunch  on 4 Aug – but we are having an authentic celebration of Bahamas Independence Day led by our colleague, Antoinette Seymour.

Anto with Dr Farrington’s matriculation slip

Anto with Dr Farrington’s matriculation slip

Antoinette has come to us from her home in the Bahamas as an affiliate member of staff. After graduating MSc Information Management & Preservation from Glasgow University in 2010, Antoinette now works for the University of The Bahamas and is responsible for establishing the archives in her institution.

Anto with Dr Farrington's matriculation slip

Anto with Dr Farrington’s matriculation slip

Antoinette, along with all of her other activities at Archive Services, has been helping our Club21 International Story editor, Poppy, to shed light on our connections. Poppy wrote a blog post on the early missionary links, and also an overview of our connections that appears on the Bahamas country page of the website.

The Bahamas gained their independence from the UK on 10 July 1973, forty-one years ago, and remains as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations – and we hope to see them in action at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.  We continue to learn from Antoinette about everyday life and customs in the Bahamas; from the Junkanoo street parades to the paddling pigs.

Happy Bahamas Independence Day!

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A second visit from Lebanon

A year since their last visit (see previous blog post), a new group of students from the Lebanon Evangelical School made the journey to Archive Services to learn more about our connections with Lebanon – and have a quick behind-the-scenes tour.

In addition to the graduation signature of James Bowen Thompson (MD CM 1836) who married the eventual founder of their school in 1860, Elizabeth Maria Lloyd, we also displayed other alumni with connections to Lebanon:


Lydia Ida Huber Torrance Allen (née Torrance) graduated MB ChB from the University in 1918 and MD in 1923. Although born in Tiberias, modern day Israel, where her father, David Watt Torrance, a physician, had established a missionary hospital, Lydia received her early education in Beirut. Perhaps at one of schools established by Elizabeth Bowen-Thompson, who was the first to establish schools for females in the region – perhaps Lebanon Evangelical School in Tyre?

R8/5/36/2 Matriculation Slip

One of the earliest Lebanese students – who coincidentally came from the same part of Beirut as the visiting headmaster, Mr Ziad El Helou – was Munib Emir El Ghurayib.  He enrolled at the University in 1915 for two years to study an Arts course, and went on to teach Arabic at Kingsmead, Birmingham, a training institution of the Friends’ Foreign Mission Association.

Lebanon Visit1We hope the students enjoyed their visit, and one day we may be able to add one or two of them to our International Story website on Lebanon!

Our thanks again to to Mr Ziad El Helou and Andrea Smith of the Lebanon Evangelical School, who contacted us to arrange the visit.

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Maintaining shipbuilding links through archives

A visit from Vestfoldarkivet, the only professional archive institution in Vestfold, Norway, again highlights the international draw of Glasgow’s shipbuilding history – as well as the draw of the University’s Archive Services.

With collections related to shipping and a project to catalogue the archive created by Framnes shipyard in Sandefjord, Vestfoldarkivet embarked on a field trip of archives in the UK with experience in that area. And the University of Glasgow Archive Services were able to pass on their expertise in the preservation of large shipyard collections, and also a few other gems of knowledge about our countries shared connections.

In their blog post,  Vestfoldarkivet noted one of the links very close to home: The company N. Bugge, whose archives are held by Vestfoldarkivet, had their ships built at Lithgow Ltd.,  held at Glasgow Archive Services.

It is also a coincidence that the earliest student from Norway at the University of Glasgow that we have so far been able to establish was from Vestfold. Hans Blom Olsen, who matriculated in 1880 aged 26 to study Senior Engineering, was born in Larvik, a town in the county of Vestfold.

More interesting links between the University and its links with Norway have still to be uncovered, so please get in touch if you have anything to add to our story.

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WWI Students of Glasgow Necropolis

Glasgow NecropolisToday The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis is hosting a Civic Reception to mark the work being done on their First World War project. The project aims to compile a detailed Roll of Honour for Glasgow Necropolis by researching individuals buried or commemorated in the large historic Victorian cemetery, who lost their lives in the First World War, of whom there are over 150.

We are delighted to join in partnership with The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis in their undertaking, and research has started on those already identified as students of the University of Glasgow.  This partnership is also providing an interesting opportunity for current students to explore the archives, develop their research skills, and fill-in the missing biographical information about these students for the Necropolis, and in doing so, to tell the stories of their fellow students of 100 years ago who found themselves in very different circumstances.

First-year History student, Bethany Garry, along with second-year History student Emily Sharp, were the enthusiastic volunteers who embarked on this collaborative project – despite being so close to exam time. Here we feature just a few of the stories about individuals that struck a cord with our students.

MB ChB 1911

Emily chose medical graduate James Elliot Black as she was able to uncover a lot of detail of his extensive war service. “His story has stuck with me due to his courageous nature which was mentioned in numerous dispatches and led to him being awarded the Military Cross. His efforts during the war, and his eventual death as a consequence of this, truly brought out the realities of war for me.” You can read Captain Black’s detailed biography researched by Emily at the International Story.

For Bethany Garry, one former student really stood out, intellectually and emotionally, throughout her project.

“Lt. Rev. Herbert Dunn particularly captured my imagination and attentions as a researcher, not least because we share a significant area of interest. I am a Theology & Religious Studies student; Herbert Dunn studied Theology and achieved a Bachelor in Divinity. I found his story resonated so deeply because I can easily picture myself writing the same essays or taking the same classes. He won a class prize for an essay on Ecclesiastes in 1907. One of my first essays, although not prize-worthy, was also about Christian scripture. After leaving the University, Dunn went on to become a parish minister in Stranraer, Galloway, until the War began and he joined the 7th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Although the University records can tell me what he studied and the awards he won, I cannot know his motivations for his choice in studies. Although military records can tell me where he was stationed or how he died, I cannot know what it felt like to leave Galloway for the Egyptian theatre.

Grave Q535, Chatby Military and War Memorial Cemetery in Alexandria

Grave Q535, Chatby Military and War Memorial Cemetery in Alexandria

Dunn died in Alexandria on 25 October 1915, of gastroenteritis. He is buried at the Alexandria (Chatby) Military and War Memorial Cemetery in Egypt and is memorialised at home in Scotland, both at the Glasgow Necropolis and at Stranraer parish church.

An estimated third of all military deaths in World War I were from disease, for all belligerents, and, although the traditional historical narrative remembers those who fell in action, I believe it is equally important to remember and honour those who went so far to die so needlessly, just like Herbert. I am very honoured to continue to remember a fellow Theology student and to have helped the University to continue to remember him.”

By Bethany Garry, 1st year student of History, Theology  & Spanish, WWI Students of Glasgow Necropolis

Captain Binning, MB ChB 1907 (DC225/1/5)

Captain Binning, MB ChB 1907 (DC225/1/5)

In addition to those biographies provided by Bethany and Emily, others that have been added for Glasgow Necropolis include Lieutenant Charles Coventry Anderson, Captain Robert Inglis Binning, 2nd Lieutenant Robert Hood Brechin, and Fleet Surgeon Adrian Andrew Forrester.

We look forward to continuing our collaboration with The Friends of Glasgow Necropolis, and commemorating the University of Glasgow staff and students who served during First World War.

Lieutenant Charles Coventry Anderson

Lieutenant Charles Coventry Anderson




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The other Italian job

Following on from Olivia’s ‘Italian Job’ blog series, we really should mention the ‘Italian Job’ that laid the foundations of the University back in the fifteenth-century.

At  the request of James II, William Turnbull, Bishop of the Diocese of Glasgow, obtained a Bull from Pope Nicholas V in 1451 to establish a university in Glasgow. The bull erected a new studium generale for the teaching of “theology, canon and civil law, as well as the arts and any other lawful faculty”. The Constitution of the University was made the same as that of the University of Bologna, considered to be the oldest university in the Western world dating back to around 1088.  The new University’s doctors, masters, readers and students were also granted all the privileges, honours and immunities enjoyed by their counterparts at Bologna.

Pope Nicholas V was also a product of the University of Bologna. Originally known as Thomas of Sarzana,  he had been Bishop of Bologna before taking on the name of Nicholas out of gratitude to his benefactor Cardinal Nicholas Albergati who maintained him at the University of Bologna, when he was raised to the pontificate on 6 March 1447.

So Italy’s connections with the University went much further back than engineering and ice-cream!

Source: Inaugural addresses by Lords Rectors of the University of Glasgow; to which are prefixed, an historical sketch and account of the present state of the University. By John Barras Hay, Glasgow, 1839 (Special Collections Bh11-b.21).  

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