Looking for the earliest female blind girl studying in Europe and America

Many people know that in 1881, American missionary John McGara brought his adopted Ningbo girl Jin Yamei to study medicine in New York, USA. After graduating from Cornell University, Jin Yamei should be the first Chinese female to study abroad. But few people know that before Jin Yamei, as early as around 1840, there were already a few Chinese female blind children who went to study in Britain and the United States.

Wen Shidi adopts blind girl

Wen Shidi, a British female missionary in the 19th century, whose real name is Mary Wanstall Gutzlaff (1799-1849, Chinese name Wen Shidi). Wen Shidi used to be a teacher at the London College of Women’s Education. Her husband Guo Shila (1803-1851) was a famous pastor, sinologist, and German missionary who came to China at that time, so people often referred to Wen Shidi as Mrs. Guo. Guo Shila, whose real name is Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff, passed on to a Hokkien surnamed Guo for missionary purposes.

In 1834, Wen Shidi followed the missionary Guo Shila to Macau. During the missionary period, the Guo Shila couple took in many abandoned Chinese blind children, especially female blind children. Because Guo Shila is busy with other affairs, the practical support and education of these adopted female blind children are almost all undertaken by Wen Shidi. After the blind girls were taken in, they all used Wen Shidi’s husband’s surname Gutzlaff.

The history of these blind little girls admitted by Wen Shidi can only be described as “unknown” so far. Their lives can hardly find any traces in Chinese historical materials, or even leave Chinese names; English materials are also very limited in their records. For example, we only know that the blind girl Agnes Güclav was a Cantonese. She was a wanderer who begged on the street. Later, she was found in Guangzhou (one said in Macau) and was taken in by Wen Shidi.

It is said that most of these girls are innately blind, some are blind due to illness and accidents (Agnes is said to be blind due to accidents), and others are deliberately blinded by the wicked so that Begging can get more income under the mercy of others. For example, Laura still remembers the last picture she saw-when her father went out, the vicious stepmother stabbed her eyes blindly under her struggle …

After taking in these blind children, Wen Shidi once asked the famous ophthalmologist Bo Jia to give them treatment. Bo Jia is a missionary of the Congregational Church and the first missionary doctor to come to China. He opened the “Ophthalmology Bureau” outside Guangzhou City in November 1835. It is an ophthalmology hospital specially designed for blind people, aiming at various diseases that cause blindness. Get treatment. According to reports, Dr. Bo Jia had performed eye surgery on Mary, the first female blind child adopted by Wen Shidi, and had improved her eyes for a period of time, but unfortunately she was still blind later.

Female blind children receive preliminary education at Macau Girls’ School

In 1835, Wen Shidi established a “Macau Girls’ School”, which became the first school to provide education for Chinese girls and the first school with a modern paradigm established in China. At the beginning, the school exclusively accepted Chinese girls, and then a male class was attached to it. According to Rong Hong’s memoirs, the blind girls who were admitted by Wen Shidi had been studying in the school of the Macao Girls’ School, and the school gave them the “teaching method”. Since Yung Wing was in the boys ’school of the Macau Girls’ School, his memories are true and credible.

Indeed, in 1837, Wen Shidi transferred the admitted female blind children to the “Macau Girls’ School” for preliminary special education. When the Macao Girls’ School was closed in 1839, these blind girls were already able to recite the Braille version of the Bible and the journey of the heavens. It can be seen that these female blind children in the Macao Girls’ School, Wen Shidi gave them the most basic training, including the use of a raised blind script popular in Western society at that time (the so-called “teaching the method of reading with convex characters”), The teaching effect is more significant. At that time, the social status of the blind people in China was extremely low, and there was almost no education and services for them. In this regard, Wen Shidi should be called the pioneer of early blind education in China.

Because of language and age, it is difficult for adult teachers who teach at the Macao Girls ’School to provide effective help to blind children. Therefore, Wen Shidi thought of a good way-try to let a 9-year-old Chinese student take care of several blind girls. The children are always easy to get along with. The Chinese student is quite smart. He not only can take good care of the girls’ lives, but also teaches them how to know Braille through touch. This 9-year-old child is Rong Hong. Therefore, it is not surprising that he can record the learning of the blind girls. It should be said that Rong Hong was also a pioneer in early blind education in China. According to records, the three blind girls he counseled were Laura, Lucy, and Jessie.

Wen Shidi’s education and help for these blind girls may have a dual purpose. First of all, it is clear that she wanted to train them to become missionaries in China in the future to help the spread of Christianity in China, which is why missionaries are often called cultural invaders. However, from her letter to friends, you can see the other side of the matter. Regarding the reasons for the education of these blind girls, Wen Shidi wrote: “(To) let the Chinese realize that those who have unfortunately lost their vision are not social parasites. They can be educated. They can stand on their own, be useful to society, and be happy. “In this sense, these blind girls who were originally helpless are undoubtedly lucky. They not only survived but also received a good education.

Was sent to Europe and the United States for blind education

In 1847, Rong Hong and three others went to study in the United States. Most researchers believe that Rong Hong was one of the earliest international students in China and the first Chinese to graduate from an American institution of higher learning. In fact, as early as around 1840, several Chinese female blind children had gone to study in the United Kingdom and the United States. These international students were sent by Wen Shidi. Rong Hong mentioned in his memoirs that blind female students studying abroad. Due to the lack of professional Braille teachers and the Opium War, these female blind children adopted by Wen Shidi were later distributed by Wen Shidi to Europe (mainly the United Kingdom) and the United States to continue their formal education for the blind.

Wen Shidi has arranged female blind children to study in Europe and America many times. She has encouraged these special elementary school students to learn English and write to the Western society for help. In 1837, the letters of the five blind girls received a great response: some British philanthropists were willing to fund several Chinese blind girls, and returned to China to help their blind compatriots after receiving education in the UK. The British royal family provides £ 100 a year for each orphan. In 1839, due to the deterioration of Sino-British relations, Lin Zexu ordered the expulsion of the British from Macau, and the British left Macao one after another. Wen Shidi is an Englishman and is also being deported. After the Macau Girls’ School closed down, she left China with several blind girls. Rong Hong wrote in “Eastern Learning of Western Learning”: “After that, the school was closed for some reason, and it was scattered. The old lady and three blind women went to the United States …” said the old lady, “Mrs. Guo.” “, Referring to Wen Shidi. In 1839, Wen Shidi sent two female blind children to the British Women’s Association, which arranged them to study literacy in Braille at the London School for the Blind. Among them, Mary Gutzlav was the first Chinese female blind girl sent to London by Wen Shidi. Judging from some letters left by Wen Shidi, in 1839, the blind girl Mary was sent to the UK by her. The letter stated that Wen Shidi tried to get Mary Gutclav to receive more modern blind education, and looked forward to her becoming a teacher in the future. According to some information, Agnes Gutzlav was also brought to the UK by Wen Shidi, and entered the blind school of the “London Blind Reading and Learning Association” on January 3, 1842.

On the eve of the outbreak of the Opium War, Wen Shidi wrote to the American Church requesting the admission of blind Chinese children. In 1842, three blind women and one normal orphan girl who followed her to the United States were selected by the Columbia Blind Organization (providing a 5-year bursary), the Philadelphia Blind Organization, a person named George Douglas and the New Jersey religious charity organization. Accept. Chabin, who served as the principal of Ohio State College and the principal of the Philadelphia School, wrote in his diary on December 18, 1842: “In April last year, I read a report published by Chinese missionary Mrs. Guo in” Mother “magazine. The letter, which represents some blind children in China, hopes that one or two of them will be educated in some organizations in the United States. The letter said that they had applied to the relevant departments before, but they were rejected. “Cha Bin wrote immediately Letter to Mrs. Guo and “Mother” magazine, saying that the blind school he is in welcomes Chinese blind children to come to study. After that, the Chinese blind girls who accepted the school were Jesse Gutschlav and Fanny Gutschlav.

In the relevant records of the British Church, Agnes is a very clever girl who only studied for less than 3 months. At a dinner party on March 29, 1842, she and another Chinese blind girl were able to After stroking to study in Braille, this scene moved the guests present. Teachers of the Braille school grouped her and another Chinese female blind Laura into a group, hoping they would not forget the language of their own country. At first, they did talk in Chinese, but as time passed, teachers regretted that Agnes and Laura gradually changed to communicate in English, and Chinese became their foreign language.

No less than 7 Chinese blind female students

To this day, we still do not know how many female blind children studying in Europe and America. On the one hand, there are few historical data, on the other hand, in a small number of records, the argument is different. For example, Fu Bulan, an American who once hosted the Shanghai School for the Blind, believes that the number of blind girls studying abroad should be six: “The earliest setting of the blind school stems from the missionary Guo Shili adopted six blind girls in Macau around 1840, two of them One was sent to a charity in the United States, and I was fortunate to have seen them two years ago, and the remaining 4 were sent to London. A blind woman had returned to China a few days ago and was in a school founded by Miss Ningbo Eldersey Help. The remaining three people soon died. “For the specific situation of the six blind women later, five of them were unable to be verified because of the lack of historical data. Only the blind woman who returned to China, namely Agnes Gütz Ralph’s experience is documented.

According to other relevant records, the statements are different. It is believed that Wen Shidi sent three female blind children to study abroad: the first two female blind children sent to London were Mary and Laura, and the second batch were sent to London, England. The two female blind boys who studied were Agnes and Lucy; another female blind boy Jessie who had been taught by Rong Hong was sent to the United States by Wen Shidi together with the two newly admitted female blind boys. Receive teacher education. According to this statement, there are at least 7 female blind children who were sent to Europe and the United States to study by Wen Shidi.

Based on the preliminary search and combing of relevant literature at home and abroad, we will obtain the names of the 7 female blind children studying in Europe and the United States and some of their known conditions, as follows:

Mary Gutzlaff, who studied in London in 1839, died two years after arriving in London in March 1842. She may not have reached the age of entering elementary school.

Laura Gutzlaff studied in London, England in 1839 (at the age of 5), and entered the blind school of the “London Blind Reading and Learning Association” in 1841; she remained in Exeter, England. Helping the blind there with his kind behavior; died in 1854.

Lucy Gutzlaff, who went to study in London in January 1842 and died in July 1842, also died.

Agnes Gutzlaff was born around 1836. In January 1842, he studied in London, England, and entered the blind school of the “London Blind Reading and Learning Association”; The first blind female teacher who can teach Braille; she died in Shanghai in 1871, and gave up all her fortune to open Shanghai Tien Hospital.

Jessie Gutzlaff, born around 1835. Studying in the United States in 1843, he studied in blind schools in Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia, where he received teacher education. She worked as a proofreader in Braille printing at a blind society in the United States, but eventually did not return to China. However, when Jesse died of heart disease in 1920, he set up a scholarship in Shanghai with his legacy.

Fanny Gutzlaff, born around 1834. Studying in the United States in 1843, she studied in blind schools in Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia, where she received teacher education; she later studied, worked, and lived in related blind institutions in the United States for nearly 77 years.

Eliza Gutzlaff was born in about 1834. He studied in the United States in 1843. He studied with Mr. Chapin, the head of the blind school, and studied in blind schools in Columbus, New York, and Philadelphia. She later learned, but eventually did not return to China.

Although the information is scarce, the conclusion is quite certain, that as early as 1840, several Chinese female blind children have gone to the United Kingdom and the United States to study. Let us remember them-the blind Chinese girls who studied in Europe and America in the first half of the 19th century!