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Precious Examination Papers Dating back to 1902 Donated to Museum of PKU History

Peking University, April 17, 2015: On March 16th, Yu Rujie, researcher at Hubei Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, donated Fan Xiren’s Second examination papers of the 1902 entrance examination of the School of Civil Services, Imperial University of Peking to Museum of Peking University History on behalf of Fan Yanzhong, son of Fan Xiren.

Mr. Yu Rujie donates Fan Xiren's Second Examination Paper of the Entrance Examination of Imperial University of Peking on behalf of Mr. Fan Yanzhong 

Fan Xiren was one of the first students to attend the Imperial University Peking when it restarted running in 1902. Imperial University Peking came into being during Wuxu Reforms in 1898. It was the first Chinese comprehensive university founded by the central government. In the beginning, Imperial University Peking is both the highest academic institution and the highest education administrative organization, which governed colleges in the whole country. However, in 1900, Imperial University Peking was assaulted by the Boxer Rebellion and was invaded by German and Russian armies of the Eight-Power Allied Forces. The school buildings, books and pieces of equipment were destroyed and the college was forced to be closed for 2 years.

After the war ended, Imperial University Peking restarted running with the support of the Qing Government in January, 1902. Zhang Baixi was appointed college headmaster. He divided the college into the School of Civil Services and Normal School, both of which started recruiting students from October, 1902 and schools began in December. Officials of certain ranks and administrative personnel in Beijing at the time were all to take the Imperial College Entrance Examination. Fan Xiren, as an official serving in Beijing, signed up for the Imperial College Entrance Examination. The examination contained two parts, the first and second examinations. The first texamination was held on October 14and 16 and the second examination was held on October 23. The questions of the first examination included history, politics, geography, mathematics, physics, diplomacy, and so on. Only those who passed the first examination can take the second examination, in which students needed to answer one essay question in Chinese and another in English. Fan Xiren got the top grades in both the first and the second examination.

The test papers donated to Museum of Peking University History were Fan Xiren’s Chinese essay in the second examination, which were once kept in an archives institution. Later, vice-minister of the Ministry of Education and student of Fan Xiren’s father, Fu Yuefen, brought them out, at the request of Fan Xiren. Fan Yanzhong mounted them very well. The test papers begin with the Chinese question and all the answers are written beautifully. The main essay is about the comparison between Zhang Juzheng and Bismarck’s political contributions and the importance of a politician and his reformation. The characters are clearly written and marking tags can be seen on the test papers.

Photo of Mr. Fan Xiren

A segment of the donated test paper

In 1903, Fan Xiren was selected to study abroad by Zhang Zhidong. He was one of the first overseas students from Chinese colleges. He went to Japan and founded a magazine called New Translation Field, which was the first translation magazine in modern China.

In recent years, Fan Yanzhong sent some of Fan Yanzhong’s heritages to his sister Fan Yawei, daughter of Fan Xiren, and asked her to help with the donation procedures. Yu Rujie, son-in-law of Fan Weiya, is a specialist in history and literature. He suggested donating the examination papers, along with some other works by Fan Yanzhong and Fan Xiren, to Museum of Peking University History. Fan Yawei and Yu Rujie also donated the first issue of New Translation Field.

Fan Xiren’s examination papers is a treasure to Museum of Peking University History. There are not many examination papers of Imperial College Entrance Examination existing. The first issue of New Translation Field is also very difficult to obtain. Works by Fan Yanzhong are important references for researches on Chinese modern history. These cultural objects also shed more light onthe history of Peking University, as well as greatly improving the diversity of objects preserved at Museum of Peking University History.

Reported by: Ge Tingting

Edited by: Xu Liangdi

Source: PKU News (Chinese)