About This Project

Interpreting Identity: The 1927 Incident is a project that focuses on the differing interpretations and effects of the Nanking Incident of 1927, when the nationalist Kuomintang  (KMT, Nationalist Party of China) entered Nanking as a part of the Northern Expedition. The Northern Expedition was a military expedition launched by the Nationalist Army of the Kuomintang against regional warlords in Northern China. In Nanking, the KMT’s army looted homes and properties of foreign interests, including foreign consulates, leaving some dead. This project investigates how this shocking event impacts students at Ginling College, Nanking University, and both foreign and domestic governments. It places specific emphasis on how the incident influenced the identity of the Chinese Christian students at Ginling College and Nanking University.

The history of missionaries is a complicated one, and our project investigates just one facet of the missionary legacy: identity. As a result of the conversions done by missionaries, those converted were forced to constantly redefine their identities beyond just religion or culture. There has been quite a bit of scholarship on this topic, but what is lacking in particular is the identity of Chinese students at missionary schools during the volatile period from the late 1800s and into the mid 1900s. Through the lens of the 1927 Nanking Incident, we hope to shed light on this volatile time from a perspective that is often forgotten yet extremely important - that of the Chinese Christian student.

How to Use this Project

This project has three main scopes: the archives, the categories those archival documents fit into, and the perspectives from which those documents were written. The documents include those from the Matilda Calder Thurston Papers held at Burke Library, Union Theological Seminary, and select documents from the Archives of the Union Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, held at Yale Divinity Library, Yale University. Our team created the categories to organize the documents and help guide viewers in their research. The perspectives are the broadest terms and are a further categorization of the documents. Explore the three scopes below in our project’s visualization.

To further inform viewers, we have created a few of pages of information to provide context for our project. To find these, please see the sidebar on this page.