Research brings Korean Scholar to McCormick

Dr. Insung Lee, Professor of English Language and Literature at Soongsil University, visited McCormick in May as part of his research in the life and work of McCormick graduate William Martyn Baird (class of 1888).

Professor Lee explored McCormick archival materials, and met with Ken Sawyer and Dr. Dae Sung Kim to discuss Presbyterian history, missions, and biography. Baird was one of several McCormick graduates who helped establish schools, hospitals, and mission stations throughout Korea. While classmate Samuel Moffett is the best known of the McCormick grads in Korea, Baird and the larger group of American women and men in missions are beginning to gain attention as Korean schools research their own history. Baird and his wife Annie Adams Baird (d.1916) and others joined with Koreans in ministries of education, proclamation, and advocacy.

The Bairds began offering classes in their home in 1897, with Annie Baird proving to be an excellent linguist and teacher. Annie Baird’s Daybreak in Korea was published in 1909, and her Fifty Helps for the Beginner in the Use of the Korean Language followed in 1911. What began as classes in the Baird home grew to become a college, then a university, the first in Korea. William Baird served as president, as did Samuel Moffett. The school suspended its operations in protest of the Japanese occupation and was refounded after the Korean conflict in 1954. Both Hannam University and Soongsil University look to the founding work of the Bairds. Soongsil University has developed into a modern research university, and can be read about at: http://eng.ssu.ac.kr. Professor Lee presented copies of his works on Baird as gifts for the McCormick community, to be offered to the JKM Library. After visiting with Sawyer and Kim at McCormick, Professor Lee headed for Topeka, Kansas, the hometown of Annie Adams Baird. Annie Baird’s advocacy of education for women will be a featured component of Professor Lee’s future writing projects.

Professor Lee can be reached at peace@ssu.ac.kr 

Photo of William Martyn Baird courtesy of http://koreanchristianity.humnet.ucla.edu/biographies/missionaries

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