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Papers of George Armstrong Young (1898-1991)

Identifier: CSWC 24

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence in English and Chinese (1938, 1946-86); material relating to Young's study of the Chinese language; material used by Young for evangelical work in China (1930s-1950s) and other miscellaneous items from his time in China; articles and sermons by Young in English mainly written after his return to Scotland; journals, articles and newspaper cuttings in English and Chinese mainly relating to China and the church (1940s-1980s); photographs, pictures and lantern slides of Chinese people and scenes (1920s-1980); manuscript drafts and early versions of The Fish or the Dragon; and various artefacts and cloth and material items.


  • Creation: 1906-1991

Language of Materials

English Chinese

Conditions Governing Access

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Conditions Governing Use

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Biographical / Historical

George Armstrong Young, Baptist Missionary Society missionary in China, was born in 1898 in Leicester, England to a working class Baptist family of Scottish background. Young had no early desire to become a missionary and, after attending school in Glasgow, he moved to London where he became a civil service clerk when he was sixteen. He fought in Belgium and France during the First World War and it was an experience on the battlefield at Ypres in 1917 which led to his deep Christian convictions. He returned to the civil service after the war but no longer felt satisfied with his former life and made the decision to become a missionary. After training at Rawdon Baptist College (1920-24) he left for China with the BMS in 1924. His first eight months were spent at language study in Peking then he went to the province of Shensi where he was based in Fuyints'un and where he continued his language training and began evangelising in the surrounding countryside. In 1927 he married Nora Haslop a missionary at the nearby station at Sanyuan. In 1927 the missionaries were forced to evacuate to coastal cities but the Youngs were able to return to Sanyuan in 1928. From 1929 Young was in charge of the Sanyuan and Fuyints'un mission stations. He continued evangelical work and set up food kitchens and orphanages to help combat the effects of the famine of that time. During 1931 he and his wife were at home on leave and on their return in 1932 they moved to Sian to take charge of evangelical work there. Young was particularly keen to ensure the growth of the Chinese church. He encouraged the extension of youth work by forming the Sian Christian Fellowship in 1933, taught bible classes, and met and built friendships with officials and prominent citizens. During the 1930s there was a period of revival in Shensi, fuelled by the influx of refugees from fighting in the East, which threatened splits within the church. Young was keen to encourage co-operation through the Church of Christ in China and helped to establish the Sian Bible Training Institute in 1942. In 1947 the Youngs took their third furlough, living in Edinburgh with their three children, Joan, Jim and Margaret, where Young wrote The Living Christ in Modern China about his experiences. He left China in 1951. From 1952 to 1968 he was minister of the Adelaide Place Baptist Church in Glasgow where he continued to practice evangelism and outreach. He finally retired at the age of seventy to Kippen near Stirling, his wife died the following year but Young continued an active life, travelling throughout Scotland and preaching regularly. He remained involved with China through the Chinese Christian Fellowship and the Scotland-China Association and in 1975 paid a visit to China. His visit led him to write The Fish or The Dragon in which he assessed the place of Christianity in the world, drawing on his experiences in China and in Glasgow. Young died in 1991.


9 boxes (34 lantern slides)


Some but not all of the material was re-filed and boxed by Ralph Covell in 1992. The material was given its current arrangement in 2001.

Custodial History

The collection was briefly listed and re-boxed by Ralph Covell in 1992. Although Young had arranged his material in some files, the titles of these did not bear much relation to the contents. Covell did not list and box the drafts of The Fish or the Dragon: this was done when the collection was properly listed in 2001.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers were presented, in 1992 and 1993, to the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western world by the Youngs' daughter Margaret, who lived at Kippen, near Stirling.


None expected.

Related Materials

The archives of the Baptist Missionary Society are held at the Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford. Young's The Living Christ in Modern China (London, 1947) is in the library of the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World. Young published The Fish or the Dragon privately and a copy of this is in the Centre library. A memoir by H. W. Burdett was deposited at the same time as the Young collection (see the Centre's small collections).


The biographical history was compiled using the following material: (1) the collection itself, (2) Young, G. A. The Living Christ in Modern China. London: Carey Press, 1947. (3) Anderson, G. H. (ed.). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Missions. New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 1998. (4) Cameron, Nigel de S. (ed.). Dictionary of Scottish church history & theology. Edinburgh : T. and T. Clark, 1993.

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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379