Papers of George Armstrong Young

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection contains: correspondence concerning Young's time in China; language study material; notes made by Young for sermons in English and Chinese; personal and Chinese language items; cuttings, published material and articles; photographs and pictures; items published by the Communist Party of China; manuscript drafts; and artefacts collected from China.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Armstrong Young, Baptist Missionary Society (BMS) missionary in China, was born in 1898 in Leicester, England to a working class Baptist family of Scottish background. Young had no early desire to become a missionary and after attending school in Glasgow he moved to London where he became a civil service clerk when he was sixteen. He fought in Belgium and France during the First World War and it was an experience on the battlefield at Ypres in 1917 which led to his deep Christian convictions. He returned to the civil service after the war but no longer felt satisfied with his former life and made the decision to become a missionary.

After training at Rawdon Baptist College (1920-24) Young left for China with the BMS in 1924. His first eight months were spent in Beijing then he went to the province of Shaanxi where he was based in Fuyints'un and where he continued his language training and began evangelising in the surrounding countryside. In 1927 he married Nora Haslop a missionary at the nearby station at Sanyuan. In 1927 the missionaries were forced to evacuate to coastal cities but the Youngs were able to return to Sanyuan in 1928. From 1929 Young was in charge of the Sanyuan and Fuyints'un mission stations. He continued evangelical work and set up food kitchens and orphanages to help combat the effects of the famine of that time.

During 1931 Young and his wife were at home on leave and on their return in 1932 they moved to Xi'an to take charge of evangelical work there. Young was particularly keen to ensure the growth of the Chinese church. He encouraged the extension of youth work by forming the Xi'an Christian Fellowship in 1933, taught bible classes, and met and built friendships with officials and prominent citizens.

During the 1930s there was a period of revival in Shaanxi, fuelled by the influx of refugees from fighting in the East, which threatened splits within the church. Young was keen to encourage co-operation through the Church of Christ in China and helped to establish the Xi'an Bible Training Institute in 1942. In 1947 the Youngs took their third furlough, living in Edinburgh with their three children, Joan, Jim and Margaret, where Young wrote The Living Christ in Modern China about his experiences.

Young left China in 1951. From 1952 to 1968 he was minister of the Adelaide Place Baptist Church in Glasgow where he continued to practice evangelism and outreach. He finally retired at the age of seventy to Kippen near Stirling, his wife died the following year but Young continued an active life, travelling throughout Scotland and preaching regularly. He remained involved with China through the Chinese Christian Fellowship and the Scotland-China Association and in 1975 paid a visit to China. His visit led him to write The Fish or The Dragon in which he assessed the place of Christianity in the world, drawing on his experiences in China and in Glasgow. Young died in 1991.

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers. It is essential to arrange an appointment in advance to view the archive in order that someone can be available to help. Please contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Acquisition Information

The collection was presented to the Centre in 1992 and 1993 by Margaret Young, daughter of George Armstrong Young.

Other Finding Aids

A paper catalogue to the collection is available to visitors to the Centre.

Archivist's Note

Description originally written and researched by Caroline Brown in June 2001. This had been added to Archives Hub in August 2012 by Louise Williams.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction of materials (for example by digital camera) is free for private research and educational use, although we ask researchers to sign an agreement. Please contact us for enquiries on using the material in a commercial setting, for which there will be a fee. Contact us by email at divinity-CSWC@ed.ac.uk. Telephone the Centre on: 0131 650 8900. Postal address: Centre for the Study of World Christianity, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity, New College, Mound Place, Edinburgh, EH1 2LX.

Accruals

No further additions to the collection are expected.

Geographical Names