I obviously have not started this project from the very beginning, but it’s never too late to go back to the start, is it? So this week I will be writing about Harry Hak-Min Au (區克明, pinyin Ōu KèMíng, Cantonese Jyutping Au1 Haak1Ming4), the first person listed in most of my CSA Directories. Just a brief content warning: this blog post will briefly contain some historical racist language.
Tag: Syracuse University
It’s flu season again, and it seems to be a pretty harsh one from what my friends on social media and local news stories indicate. Just the other day I read a story about a healthy 22-year old who got the flu and died. The indication so far is that his death was a fluke – normally only the very young, old, and immunocompromised are at risk of dying from flu – but it still put me in mind of the 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic that had such a high mortality rate among young people. The 1918 flu was a worldwide pandemic that caused an overreaction of the immune systems of those who were infected, leading to respiratory complications like pneumonia which ended up being fatal. And since the students I have been researching were all young adults during this pandemic, I’ve encountered several Boxer Indemnity Scholars who were affected and even died from the flu or pneumonia during the time of the outbreak.
A lot of Indemnity Scholars show up here and there across the pages of history without leaving many clues as to why they were there. 黄顯庭 is not like this. Hinting Wong (Jyutping [Cantonese] romanization Wong4 Hin2ting4) was born 2 November 1892 in Hong Kong to a Christian (Episcopalian) father, who may have attended Oxford (Syracuse Herald, 16 Nov 1917, link goes to Ancestry.com copy). H. T Wong attended both Canton Christian College in Guangzhou and Queen’s College in Hong Kong before serving in the Southern Army in 1911 (State College News, 1 Nov 1916). He was only 19 years old, but he was a 2nd lieutenant, Infantry – I expect his schooling sent him straight to the officer corps. He was wounded in battle, and his World War I draft card states he had lost his sight in his right eye. The previously cited Syracuse Herald story – “Veteran, Student Here” – retells the gripping story of how H. T. Wong received a bayonet thrust to the head in the 1911 Revolution (Syracuse Herald, 16 Nov 1917).
After his injury, H. T. Wong served as a secretary to several important figures in the Southern government. He was then sent abroad to study in Western universities. A New York newspaper article mentions him studying at Japanese and English universities, as well as at Harvard, but I can’t find any primary source documentation for this. No US arrival documentation as of yet.
The scope of this project is so enormous that sometimes I can only proceed in what feels like a very small spiraling motion outward. There are so many students and so many primary source documents, as well as the entire weight of Chinese and US History, that I sometimes feel like I am looking into an immense and densely populated forest, with no idea where the best point of entry is. Often it is just easier to pick a place to start, and then research the other people and places that relate to that starting point, until I am finally deep in the research. So: my previous student post was on E. J. Chu, and this post will be on the fellow student he boarded with in Albany: W. K. Lam.