‘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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US Naval Academy links with Glasgow

The University of Glasgow’s historic links with shipbuilding on the Clyde are clear to see throughout the University campus. The Randolph Hall, for example, is named for Sir Charles Randolph, co-owner of the prestigious Randolph, Elder & Co. shipyard, who left £60,000 to the University to complete the construction of the Bute Hall. Similarly, the University’s School of Naval Architecture was, until 1906, housed in Pearce Lodge, named for another shipwright, Sir William Pearce. Indeed, the Chair of Naval Architecture was endowed by Isabella and John Elder themselves.

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Evidently, the University of Glasgow has a rich history of Naval Architecture. The subject flourished in the late 19th century, coinciding with an influx of international students arriving in Glasgow to study at the world-renowned school. Most notable amongst the University’s records are a high number of students from the United States of America, many of whom were graduates of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. These students of Naval Architecture often went on to fill high ranking positions within the US Navy prior to the First World War.

Washington Lee Capps , for example, became Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, alongside a promotion to Rear-Admiral within two decades of his graduation in 1888. During World War Two, Capps was honoured by the US Navy with the naming of two ships in his honour.

Graduation Signature DSc 1912

Graduation Signature DSc 1912

Similarly, many other University of Glasgow alumni rose to the rank of Rear-Admiral. Richard Morgan Watt, a graduate of the Class of 1892, was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in construction during the First World War, and was also the primary investigator on the enquiry into the sinking of the Titanic. A classmate of Watt, George Henry Rock, also achieved this rank, and was awarded the Navy Cross for his role at the New York Shipyard. Many of the men who studied at the University of Glasgow are now buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in the United States, reflecting their role in serving their nation.

Why then, were so many Americans coming to study in Glasgow in this period?

In answering this question, it is important to consider the reasons that Naval Architecture was so prominent in the 1890s. In this period, the face of Naval Architecture was changing completely. Naval fleets, prior to 1890, were made up of ships which looked nothing like the style of ship we would recognise today as a modern battleships.The HMS Devastation was probably the most powerful ship as late as the mid-1880s, and Glasgow-built ships, such as HMS Campania, had to be completely refitted to serve a new purpose.

HMS Campania, converted Cunard Line ocean liner to seaplane tender and aircraft carrier for WWI

HMS Campania, converted Cunard Line ocean liner to seaplane tender and aircraft carrier for WWI

Given Britain’s rank as perhaps the most powerful naval force in the World, it is unsurprising that its ports, such as Glasgow, were at the forefront of naval innovation and the development of a new class of ship. This was a period in which naval architecture was developing at its fastest ever rate, and nations all over the world were keen to keep up, and Glasgow was the ideal institution at which to study.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that the United States has not always been the military force it is known as today. Indeed, in the 1890s, when these students were studying, the US Navy was insignificant in comparison to its European counterparts – it was, in fact, smaller than that of Belgium. There was a substantial naval element to the US Civil War, with both sides developing significant Naval forces (many ships were constructed in British ports such as Glasgow and Birkenhead), yet by the turn of the century these largely wooden ships were vastly outdated. The US Navy was, at this point, effectively a coastal defence force, unable to take to the seas and challenge for naval superiority.

Alongside this, there were a number of notable military theorists discussing the importance of a Navy in this period. Most notable amongst these was Alfred Mahan, a US Navy Admiral and strategist. In his piece, “The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783”, published in 1890, he theorised that nations with superior navies would have a greater worldwide impact. This concept was hugely influential throughout the world, and in the United States in particular, and this effectively sparked a naval arms race. The United States soon began to realise their need to catch up with their European counterparts, and this must be seen to be integral to the sending of so many men to Glasgow.

The University of Glasgow, then, was at the forefront of Naval Architecture in this period, and the United States needed a more advanced Navy. In this light, it is unsurprising that so many Americans, who would go on to achieve great things as naval constructors, would have studied at the University.

By Hugh Roberts, MA History (who continues to research the Naval Academy students at Glasgow pre WWI).



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Hungarians at the University of Glasgow (1850–1950)

Hungarian students studying at Glasgow created a small, but steady group between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries.

During this period altogether twelve Hungarians could be found in the archival materials of the University, but not all could be researched in accordance with data protection. Due to the peculiarities of 20th century Hungarian history it was not possible to strictly categorize each person with a Hungarian name into the country association of Hungary. After the Trianon peace treaty of 1920, which finally ended World War I, two-thirds of the Kingdom of Hungary was divided among neighbouring countries, such as Romania or Czechoslovakia. To make things even more complicated, prior to and during the Second World War certain detached territories were returned to Hungary. For this reason we associated both Hungary and the given successor state to the people originally from a detached area.

There are certain patterns we can discover when summarising the different fields of study of these Hungarian students. More than half of them (7) came to Glasgow to study Theology. This also has historical reasons. During the early modern Habsburg-era (16th–18th centuries) Protestantism was undesirable and often punishable in Hungary, therefore prospective ministers of the Lutheran and Calvinist Churches had to go to North-Western Europe to study Protestant theology. Peregrination remained an important tradition of Protestant pastor training later on. This is illustrated most picturesquely by the itinerary of Koncz Sándor [Alexander Koncz], who attended such emblematic colleges of the Reformed Church as Sárospatak (Hungary), Basel (Switzerland) and Glasgow. It is the Calvinist foundation which links the Reformed Church of Hungary to its Scottish equivalent, the Church of Scotland. Presbyterianism had such a strong impact on Hungarian students that some of them, like Moody András [Andrew Moody] returned to Hungary as missionaries of the Free Church of Scotland to convert Jews to Christianity or as a result of this mission came to Glasgow and became Presbyterian ministers, like Saphir Adolf Áron [Adolph Aaron Saphir]. Along other novices, namely Gáti Sámuel, Czirjek Mihály, Patay Pál and Puskás Bajkó István, they enrolled to courses on the Old and New Testament, divinity, biblical criticism and church history under Professors such as George Milligan and Henry Reid.

Another characteristic, but much smaller group of Hungarians (3), studied Medical and Veterinary Sciences at Glasgow. Education of Medicine also has its fame throughout the world, their scientific discoveries in the subject area of Virology made the predecessor of the current College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences well-known. Most Hungarians, like Bacsich Pál [Paul Bacsich] and Beöthy Konrád [Conrad Beothy] came here to write their doctoral dissertation. The latter, as a forensic medical researcher, had a significant role in the identification of the so called “invisible of Mecsek”, a partisan group resisting the Soviet troops after the tragic 1956 revolution against Hungary’s Soviet occupation.

Finally, we can distinguish a couple of figures, who do not belong to the two major groups described above. Kenedi Róbert Maximilián [Robert Maximilian Kenedi] studied civil engineering and Ullmann István [Stephen Ullmann] studied Semantics and Romance Languages at the University. Although studying completely different subjects, they had a lot in common. Both were fleeing the effects of the Second World War and became British citizens; they acquired their doctoral degrees here and became renowned experts in their respective field of study.

As one can see a large variety of academic fields were covered by Hungarian nationals throughout a century, ranging from Theology to Medicine and from Humanities to Engineering. Hopefully the second century of documented Hungarian presence at Glasgow University holds a similarly colourful and prosperous era for both the University and Hungary and the entire globe!

By László Kövecses, MSc Russian, Central & East European Studies, Hungary, Club21

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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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