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Social gospel, social economics, and the YMCA: Sidney D. Gamble and Princeton-in-Peking

Wenjun Xing, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Sidney D. Gamble (1890-1968) was a social scientist, religious reformer, photographer and Christian humanist who devoted his life to the study of Chinese urban and rural society. Gamble made four sojourns to China between 1908 and 1932. He served as research secretary for the Beijing YMCA and the Mass Education Movement at Dingxian. As a volunteer member of Princeton-in-Peking, he conducted major social-economic surveys of urban and rural north China, helped establish community service programs in Beijing, and pioneered in the teaching of sociology and social work in China. During his tenure, Gamble also used his camera to build up a visual archive of 5,000 black-and-white photographs which successfully captured the images of China during those critical years in its history.^ Through Gamble's life and work, the dissertation looks into the institutional history of the Princeton University center in China from 1906 to 1949, during which time its chief work was first to organize and operate the YMCA and then to run the Princeton School of Public Affairs at Yenching University. This study also seeks to analyze how Princeton-in-Peking, under the influence of both the Social Gospelers and institutional economists at home and the forces of reform and revolution in late Qing and early Republican China, shifted the focus of its efforts first to community service and social work and later to higher education in the social sciences.^ For the first time in the history of Christianity in China, Association work in Beijing demonstrated to the officialdom and the upper classes of the new Republic, that Christianity and the Chinese culture might not be incompatible. The motto of the May Fourth Movement, "To save China through science and democracy," and the missionary ideal of "Saving China through Christianity" for a time seemed to be united under the common goal of social uplift and reconstruction for the new Republic. In a very significant way, Sidney D. Gamble and Princeton-in-Peking reflected the rich intellectual and cultural interactions between the West and China in general and the United States and China in particular. ^

Subject Area

Biographies|Philosophy of Religion|Asian history|American history|Modern history

Recommended Citation

Xing, Wenjun, "Social gospel, social economics, and the YMCA: Sidney D. Gamble and Princeton-in-Peking" (1992). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9305919.