Dickinson initially became involved with
China through the work of an alumnus, Reverend Frank D. Gamewell.
After graduating, Gamewell became a missionary for the Methodist Church
and arrived in Beijing in October, 1881. Gamewell had a successful
career in China, becoming superintendent of the West China Mission
in 1886 where he oversaw the construction of most of the buildings
in the mission. Gamewell returned to America for a time, but later
became a professor at Peking University. During his tenure, he was
called on by the mayor of Beijing to reinforce the city's fortifications
during the Boxer Rebellion.
Dickinson's institutional involvement began
with financial support of Dr. John W. Yost, another Dickinsonian who
became a missionary with the West China Mission. Yost was a professor
at West China Union University until 1921 when he was replaced by
Reverend Raymond R. Brewer. Brewer then sailed to Shanghai on September
Dickinson's support of Yost was ample, but
limited in comparison to its full support for Brewer. When Brewer
agreed to take Yost's place as Dickinson's representative at West
China Union University, Dickinson-in-China was born. Dickinson-in-China
was the first program that captured Dickinson's full administrative,
financial, and public support as both faculty and students gave generously
to the Dickinson-in-China fund, and often read Brewer's reports on
China's conditions in the Dickinsonian newspaper.
Brewer's work and observations while in
China were truly unparalleled. He presented a new and inquisitive
outlook at China. Where Gamewell and other missionaries of that era
sometimes had an air of condescension and superiority, Brewer focused
on cooperation, education, and fair consideration. Brewer represented
the beginning of a new generation of educators in China.
This website is part of the American Context
of China's Christian Colleges project, which investigates the interaction
between the China Christian colleges and American liberal arts colleges
between 1900 and 1950. The project is funded by the Luce Foundation,
and is based at Wesleyan University under the direction of Prof. Ellen
Widmer of the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures.