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Table of Contents
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 26-28

Wang Jimin (王吉民) and History of Chinese Medicine (《中国医史》)

Shanghai Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Date of Web Publication18-Mar-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Lili Wang
Shanghai Museum of Traditional Chinese Medicine Affiliated to Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/CMAC.CMAC_17_19

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Wang Jimin was not only a distinguished medical historian in modern China and an academician of the International Academy of the History of Science but also an originator of the first Museum of Chinese Medical History and of the Chinese Medical History Society. This study briefly introduces Wang's family academic history, his groundbreaking achievements in studies on medical history and the first monograph of History of Chinese Medicine (English edition) in China. It also reviews the foundation of the first Museum of Chinese Medical History.

Keywords: Zhong Guo Yi Xue Shi (《中国医史》History of Chinese Medicine), Museum of Chinese Medical History (中国医史博物馆), Wang Jimin 王吉民)

How to cite this article:
Wang L. Wang Jimin (王吉民) and History of Chinese Medicine (《中国医史》). Chin Med Cult 2019;2:26-8

How to cite this URL:
Wang L. Wang Jimin (王吉民) and History of Chinese Medicine (《中国医史》). Chin Med Cult [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jun 4];2:26-8. Available from: http://www.cmaconweb.org/text.asp?2019/2/1/26/254378

Wang Jimin (王吉民, 1889–1972) [Figure 1], also named as Jiaxiang (嘉祥) with a literary name of Yunxin (芸心), was born in Humen (虎门) of Dongguan (东莞) in Guangdong (广东). Since his father worked for a Hong Kong Christian church, Wang went to Hong Kong at 7 and studied in St. Paul's College(香港圣保罗书院) and Queen's College (皇仁书院). He started to learn medicine in Hong Kong College of Western Medicine (香港西医大学堂,现香港大学医学院 the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong now) at 16. After he graduated at 21, he took the posts such as ship doctor for a foreign shipping company, Dean of China Anti-epidemic Hospital (中国防疫医院院长), General Chief Physician of Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo Railway Administration Bureau (沪杭甬铁路管理局主任总医师), doctor of Zhejiang Postal Administration Bureau (浙江省邮政管理局局医), and deputychairman of Chinese Medical Association (中华医学会副会长) successively. Wang Jimin was not only a prestigious medical historian and an expert in quarantine in modern and contemporary China and an academician of the International Academy of the History of Science (国际科学史研究院院士) but also a founder of the first Museum of Chinese Medical History (中国医史博物馆) and of theChinese Medical History Society (中华医史学会), the deputy chairman of the first session of the Chinese Medical History Society (中国医史学会) and Chairman of the following three sessions. He co-authored the first monograph of History of Chinese Medicine (《中国医史》) (English edition) in China andinitiated the Chinese Medical Journal (《中华医学杂志》).
Figure 1: Wang Jimin(王吉民)--An Historian of Medicine

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  Born from an Academic Family With Numerous Celebrities Top

Wang Jimin was born in a Christian family. With a quiet disposition and a modest personality, he was fond of music and created his own songs. He once composed several pieces of songs for Hymns of Universal Praise (《普天颂赞》). He learned both oriental and western knowledge, read extensively, and understood thoroughly many languages. Moreover, all this was closely related with his family influence.

Wang's grandfather, Wang Yuanshen (王元深), studied from German missionary of Karl Friedlich Gutzlaff(郭士立)in Hong Kong in 1847 and preached Christian in Humen of Guangdong with other Chinese priests such as Li Qingbiao (李清标) and Ye Naqing (叶清纳) in November of the same year. Yuanshen's published works included Miao Zhu Wen Da(《庙祝问答》Temple Attendants' Questions and Answers), Kan Yu Wen Da(《堪舆问答》Questions and Answers on Geomantic Omen), Xing Mi Lun(《醒迷论》On Awakening and Confusion), Sheng Dao Dong Lai Kao(《圣道东来考》Research on Orientation of Christian), Li Jian Ming Zheng(《历艰明证》Clear Evidence Through Hardships), etc., Wang Jimin's father, Wang Qianru (王谦如), with adult name of Bingkun (炳堃), was converted to Christian and an appointed priest, who preached in the area of Dongguan and Bao'an(宝安), with works such as Zhai Mu Quan Zhen(《宅墓诠真》 Essentials on Houses and Tombs, Zhen Li Ke Xuan(《真理课选》Selection of Christian Matins), and San Jiao Du Zhen(《三教度针》Release Strategies of Three Religions), Ye Ru Yue Dan(《耶儒月旦》Comments on Jesus and Confucius), Dao Yuan Ji《道原集》Collection on Origins of Tao) and Ya Ge Jiang Yi(《雅各讲义》Textbook of James), etc., Wang's family brothers were all talented with sorts of achievements. Jimin's brother of Wang Zemin王泽民) began to learn medicine in Hong Kong College of Western Medicine (the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong now) in 1887, who was a schoolfellow of Sun Yat-sen (孙中山)'s. Sun was one of the first graduates of the college and Zemin graduated 2 years later. Zemin was also one of the founders of Guangdong Red Cross Society (广东红十字会), and once translated the work of Hong Shi Zi Hui Jiu Shang Yao Fa(《红十字会救伤要法》First-aid Essentials of Red Cross) written by British Doc. James Cantine (简地利). Wang Jimin's cousin of Wang Pangyi (王宠益) was the first Chinese professor of Medical College of UHK (香港大学医学院), cousin of Pangqing (王宠庆) was a professor of University of London (英国伦敦大学), and cousin of Panghui (王宠惠), a famous Chinese jurist, diplomatist, and politician, once was appointed as the first Foreign Minister of the interim government of Republic of China (民国临时政府首任外交总长).[1]

In 1918, Wang Jimin was married to Su Meiying (苏梅英) from Yin County of Zhejiang (浙江鄞县), who was an industrious and frugal wife and helped him in raising their five children, including the first son of Zihong (王子鸿), first daughter of Xianglan (王湘兰), second daughter of Mulan (王慕兰), third daughter of Zhilan (王芝兰), and fourth daughter of Jinglan (王静兰).

  Dedicated to the Research on Medical History With Substantial Publications Top

Mr. Wang Jimin dedicated himself to research on medical history for over 50 years with striking contributions achieved, including over 200 works written in both Chinese and English, with the contents involving medical administration, medical affairs, biographies, elucidations on Chinese and western medicine, medical exchanges and mutual introduction between western and Chinese medicines, medical reports, memorial articles, work and meeting reports, etc. For instance, he wrote monographs such as as Zhong Guo Li Dai Yi Xue Zhi Fa Ming(《中国历代医学之发明》Elucidations on Medicine Through Chinese History) and History of Chinese Medicine and worked as chief editor for journals such as Zhong Hua Yi Xue Za Zhi Yi Shi Zhuan Hao (《中华医学杂志医 史专号》Special Issue of Medical History of Chinese Medical Journal), Zhong Hua Yi Xue Za Zhi San Shi Zhou Nian Ji Nian Hao (《中华医学杂志三十周年纪念号》 30th Anniversary Memorable Issue of Chinese Medical Journal), Zhong Hua Yi Shi Xue Hui Wu Zhou Nian Ji Nian Te Kan (《中华医史学会五周年5th Anniversary Special Issue of Chinese Medical History Society), Zhong Guo Yi Xue Wai Wen Zhu Shu Shu Mu (《中国医学外文著述书目》Bibliography of Foreign Writings on Chinese Medicine) and Zhong Guo Yi Shi Wai Wen Wen Xian Suo Yin (《中国医史外文文献索引》 Index of Foreign Literature on Chinese Medical History), etc. The most renowned contribution he'd made was the book of History of Chinese Medicine co-authored by Wu Liande (伍连德) and him, collected by numerous university libraries in European and American countries.

In around 1916, Wu Liande read through the Yi Xue Shi《医学史》History of Medicine) written by American medical historian F. H. Garrison (嘉立森), only to find words involving Chinese medicine had occupied less than one page of this over-700-page monograph full of mistakes.[2] He corresponded with Garrison to ask the reason and received the reply that the author had not seen any relevant literature in western language and the half-page documentation was reference from other foreign writer. Wu showed the letter to his friend Wang Jimin, and they were both deeply touched. To their disappointment with Garrison's wrong argument on and superficial understanding of Chinese medicine, Wu and Wang et al. for 10 years and completed the History of Chinese Medicine (English edition) in 1932 to introduce Chinese medical achievements in history to the world. The prestigious expert on history of science and technology, Joseph Needham (李约瑟), once wrote an article in 1976 for the Mei Guo Zhong Yi Za Zhi(《美国中医杂志》American Journal of Chinese Medicine) to highly praise the book as “nearly the only one known to western medical historians.”

Wang Jimin was devoted to research on medical history for decades and attached great importance to the collection of medical literature and medical books both at home and abroad. In 1937, he donated over 5000 books and journals on Chinese and western medicine he collected to the Chinese Medical Association(中华医学会). Since 1959, he had presented over 1000 pieces of literature on medical history to Shanghai College of Chinese Medicine (上海中医学院).[3] In 1969, he donated to the Museum of Medical History (医史博物馆) another 700 + pieces of medical literature, which all became precious data of reference for relevant further researches.

  Establishment of the Museum to Spread Quintessence of Chinese Medicine Top

In the spring of 1937, Wang Jimin was invited by the Chinese Medical Association to Shanghai to assist in its operation. In April, the 4th National Membership Meeting of the Chinese Medical Association (中华医学会第四届全国会员代表大会) was held in Shanghai. Wang Jimin was in charge of the preparation of exhibition on medical history literature involving over 1000 items such as medicine bottles, medicine processing tools, acupuncture utensils, ancient books, and portraits of medical practitioners, which was covered by the media and positively praised by the public. During the meeting, Wang made a special speech named Appeal to the Establishment of Museum of Medical History (“吁请筹设医史博物馆”). In May, his article of Opinion on the Establishment of Museum of Medical History (《筹设中国医史博物馆刍议》)was published in Chinese Medical Journal, stating three tenets including “safe storage to avoid loss of national treasures (“妥为保存,以免散失”, “国粹不致外流”),” “for academic study on the evolution of medicine and treatment (“供学者研究,藉以考察医学之变迁,治疗之演进”),” and “as teaching tools for medical education and popular propaganda of medical knowledge (“对学生为有效之教授方法,对民众可作宣传医药常识之利器”),” which was in accordance with the world-recognized three traditional functions of museums – storage, study, and education. Due to Wang Jimin's advocate and active promotion, in July of 1938, the first Museum of Medical History in China was set up in a small room of the library of Chinese Medical Association, located on No. 41 of Chibang Road of Shanghai with about 400 items of exhibition and Wang as the first curator. In 1956, the museum was relocated into Guohua Building on East Beijing Road with the Shanghai branch of Chinese Medical Association. In January of 1959, the museum became affiliated to and changed its location into Shanghai College of Chinese Medicine, still with Wang Jimin as the curator until early 1966.

Mr. Wang Jimin dedicated over half a century to his career and was indeed a pioneer of researches on Chinese medical history. His work of History of Chinese Medicine and the first museum on medical history initiated by him were historical milestones for the development of Chinese medicine, leaving a rich legacy to later generations.

Translator: Yingshuai Duan(段英帅)

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Humen Town People's Government. Study on Wang Jimin's Chinese Medical History. Guangzhou: Guangdong People's Publishing House; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 1
Fu WK. Wang Jimin and the establishment of the first museum on medical history in China. Shanghai J Tradit Chin Med 2008;42:72.  Back to cited text no. 2
Xiao HY. Chronology of Wang Jimin. Chin J Med Hist 2004;34:243-4.  Back to cited text no. 3


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