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 15, 1921.

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.


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Thanks to Robert Reeves and Drew Kaiden for their work
on the Engaging the World-Dickinson in China website.
Some information here is borrowed from that website.