The Barbour Scholarships
President Ruthven has characterized the University of Michigan's Barbour Scholarships for Oriental Women as a unique possession. In the long list of scholarships and fellowships for foreign students in the United States nothing comparable in number and widespread influence can be found. Some 212 women have been provided University training, qualifying them to return for lives of service in their homelands. They come from a dozen countries, spanning Asia to Istanbul. Their service literally encircles the globe: they are in Hawaii, Japan, Korea, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaya, India, Syria, and Turkey, with a few in Europe and a number in the United States.
The generous gifts of Levi Lewis Barbour to his alma mater were chiefly in the interest of women — a gift of property in Detroit, which led to the naming of Barbour Gymnasium in his honor, Betsy Barbour House, and the Barbour Scholarships. He was also instrumental in establishing the Office of Dean of Women and in selecting the first incumbent and was ever the champion of education for women, although he had no sisters or daughters, and his wife was an invalid. But he had a New England mother of great courage and inspiration who was completely devoted to her family. His desire was to raise the standard of the home and of society by educating women as well as men. Mr. Barbour, who was graduated from the University in 1863, and from the Law School two years later, was Regent of the University from 1892 to 1898 and from 1902 to 1908.
While traveling in the Orient, Mr. Barbour was impressed with the remarkable work of three women trained in medicine at Michigan: two Chinese, Mary Stone, '96m, and Ida Kahn, '96m, and one Japanese, Tomo Inouye, '01m. He saw a need and an opportunity — Oriental women scientifically and broadly trained at Michigan could return to their homes for a life of service. He began to plan for the scholarships that bear his name. His main purpose was beautifully though briefly expressed in a letter to President Hutchins: "The idea of the Oriental girls' scholarships is to bring Page 1856girls from the Orient, give them an Occidental education and let them take back whatever they find good and assimilate the blessings among the peoples from which they come."
On June 22, 1917, Mr. Barbour appeared before the Board of Regents and presented to the University a foundation of $50,000 to establish scholarships for young women from Oriental countries. The amount was increased several times during his life, and his residuary estate raised the assets of the foundation to approximately $650,000.
The memorandum of agreement designated a committee in charge of the scholarships consisting of "the President of the University, the Dean of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the Dean of Women, and the Dean of the Medical School." Instruction was provided for applicants not fully prepared to elect the University courses required. So rapid was the development of women's education in the Orient and at the University that eleven years later a majority of the Barbour scholars were graduate students and, upon petition, the Board of Regents added to the committee the Dean of the Graduate School.
In 1920, according to a letter to Mr. Barbour, "the Committee decided to appoint some person with a personal knowledge of conditions in the Far East. One of the instructors in Astronomy has been thought of for the work." Accordingly, W. Carl Rufus, who retired as Professor of Astronomy and Secretary of the Barbour Scholarships in 1946, was drafted.
Mr. Barbour lived to see his dream rapidly being realized. When he died in 1925, the total number of appointees had reached nearly sixty, of whom twenty-five attended the University during 1924-25, the number he had hoped to see. Many had visited him in his home and those in America at the time of his death attended his funeral in Detroit as a group and were present at a memorial service at Betsy Barbour House in Ann Arbor. On the latter occasion one of the Chinese Barbour Scholars was called upon to respond extemporaneously. She expressed the sincere appreciation of the entire group and pledged the consecration of their lives to the development of education for women in the Orient. She was Dr. Yi-fang Wu, who became president of Ginling College.
Among the scholars who had returned to the Orient at that time was another future college president, Dr. Lucy Wang, of Hwa Nan College, formerly at Foochow. The committee takes pride in the fact that the presidents of the two colleges for women in China were Barbour Scholars, trained at Michigan. Scores of other leaders in education, medicine, and social service indicate that Mr. Barbour's anticipations have rapidly come to full realization.
To announce the scholarships in the Orient and to develop a method of securing applications and making appointments were the chief problems first faced by the committee. Letters were sent to Michigan alumni in the Orient, to government officials, and to educational institutions admitting women.
Advisory Barbour Scholarship committees, whose chief function was to accept applications, certify the academic credentials, pass judgment on general qualifications, and make recommendations, were appointed in several Oriental countries. In some other countries selected institutions or individuals acted as special advisers.
The transformation of the first Barbour Scholar, Kameyo Sadakata, a tiny and timid Japanese schoolgirl, into a well-trained pediatrician required eleven years. After several months in Mr. Barbour's home she matriculated for premedical courses in September, 1915, and entered the Medical School three years later.
Determination and persistence finally Page 1857won for her the coveted M.D. degree in 1924. She devoted an additional year to special work in pediatrics in the laboratory of Dr. D. M. Cowie.
Of the 212 appointees up to 1941, approximately one-half were Chinese, one-fifth Japanese, with Indians, Filipinos, and Koreans making up the large majority of the others. Turkey, Siam, Sumatra, Arabia, Malaya, Syria, Hawaii, and Bulgaria have also been represented. Applications and inquiries have also been received from Jews, Armenians, Singhalese, and natives of islands of the Pacific. In 1938 at the Kuling Conference of China's leading women, there were fifty-four women representing thirteen provinces, among whom were eight Michigan graduates including seven Barbour Scholars. The People's Political Council, with a membership of 214, has fourteen women members, including two Barbour Scholars, Mrs. C. L. Lo (née Wei-djen Djang), wife of the president of National Central University, and Dr. Wu.
Among the seventy-five applicants for the year 1928-29 was a young woman from a high-class Kashmiri Brahmin family, Miss Sharkeshwari Agha, with a B.A., M.A., and LL.B. from the University of Allahabad, who was the principal of a high school in that city. At the meeting of the committee to make the awards she was appointed. During two years at Michigan she specialized in education and received another M.A. degree. She left in 1930. Miss Agha has served on a number of national committees and as secretary of the All-India Women's Conference for Education and Social Reform. She became a member of the court of Allahabad University, supreme controlling body of that organization.
In the Osaka Mainichi, October 10, 1930, was an article in Japanese, translated in part as follows: "A Korean-born Young Woman, the beautiful Miss Whang-Kyung Koh, will be Graduated with the Degree, Bachelor of Law, from Doshisha University next spring. As she is the first woman of her race to graduate from this university, the event is as marked as the appearance of a red flower in the midst of green foliage."
She entered Michigan as a Barbour Scholar in the fall of 1931, earned an M.A. in economics in 1933, then specialized in sociology, completing the courses required for a doctorate and obtaining sufficient material for her dissertation. In 1935 she returned to her native land.
She obtained a teaching position, spent some time completing her thesis, and, with her sister, organized a social settlement near Seoul, the expense of which, including one full-time worker, was paid out of the sisters' salaries. In 1937 Miss Koh's Ph.D. in sociology was granted at Michigan. Dr. Koh became dean of the School of Home Economics and head of the Department of Economics at Ehwa College, Seoul, the only college for Korean women.
The first Barbour Scholar from Manila was Maria C. Lanzar. At Michigan Miss Lanzar specialized in political science. After receiving her Ph.D. in 1928 she returned to Manila as a member of the faculty in political science. She also served for several years as dean of women.
A new feature, the Barbour Fellowships, was established in 1928 to be awarded upon invitation to Oriental women of noteworthy achievement. They yielded a larger stipend than the scholarships and were intended to provide for a year's leave of absence with an opportunity to use the classrooms, libraries, and laboratories of the University for special investigation and research. Invitations were extended and accepted by ten fellows from 1928 to 1932, when the plan was temporarily discontinued.
Among the former Barbour Scholars a Page 1858large percentage is now in the United States. More than one hundred and fifty, however, are in their native lands carrying out Mr. Barbour's desire to raise the status of women in the home and society. Over one hundred are active in the field of education. In Japan most of our Barbour Scholars are connected with colleges for women.
Many Barbour Scholars have entered the field of medicine. The contributions of Barbour Scholars in the emancipation of women in the Orient have also been outstanding. Only one Chinese Barbour Scholar, as far as is known to the writer, had suffered from bound feet. That practice has passed away. To the Oriental, however, the custom was not as bad as the old American method of binding and distorting the waist. Only one scholar came directly from Indian purdah. She was accompanied from her seclusion to the secretary's office by an uncle; during the first interview, in spite of many attempts to hear her voice, the secretary could distinguish only a faint response, and she looked up but once. Not long afterward, she was a free individual able to say that her soul was her own. From suppression she came to the chairmanship of a nation's political council, from inferiority to recognition in medical and other learned societies.
A large number of former Barbour Scholars are engaged in religious work. From Japan, especially, many Barbour Scholars come from Christian mission schools and colleges, because these institutions give adequate preparation in English, while the government institutions in general do not. That gave rise to a question by a Japanese educator whether anyone not a Christian could apply. He appeared surprised to learn that among our Barbour Scholars are representatives of many Far Eastern religions and some who claim "no religion."
Barbour Scholars come under the same regulations as other women students and have been excellently provided for, probably better than Oriental men. During the earlier days some advocated that the Barbour Scholars should be assigned to the women's dormitories so that they could benefit by associating with American girls. The secretary's rejoinder was "so that the Americans may profit by the example of the Oriental girls."
The academic standard maintained by the Barbour Scholars has been uniformly very high; scarcely a failure has been recorded. A total of about three hundred academic degrees has been granted to Barbour Scholars, of which master's exceed one-half, doctor's, including M.D.'s, exceed one-quarter.
Many have been elected to honorary societies. Quite remarkably it seems, at least two have won honors in creative writing in English; major Hopwood awards have been granted to Man-kuei Li and to Celia Chao.
But one major object of Mr. Barbour's benefaction remains to be consummated. The Barbour Scholars have been designated as "ambassadors of goodwill." Their broad training and experience have developed a sympathetic understanding of other races. On the Michigan campus during two world wars, the Barbour Scholars have mingled with an equanimity which is even finer than the virtue of Oriental courtesy. The spirit of helpfulness has been frequently demonstrated as a representative of one belligerent nation welcomed a new scholar of an enemy race, assisted in introducing her to the intricacies of American university life, and successfully aided in guiding her through the labyrinth of new paths and the crossword puzzle of unfamiliar election cards and enrollment blanks to be sorted and signed. As they returned to their native lands these Page 1859women carried this spirit of international friendship and helpfulness.
Frank L. Huntley, Professor of English, succeeded Professor Rufus as Secretary of the Barbour Scholarship Committee in 1946. In 1949-50 the income of the fund was drastically cut when the Regents refinanced the principal. At present the fund amounts to about $450,000. When the income dropped it was necessary to curtail the number of scholarships from twenty-five to fifteen. Married women are now eligible. The scholarship pays tuition, fees, and a stipend of $1,000 an academic year.