1892  — 1945

Zhou Xiezhang

Henry Chou

Prominent educator

Zhou Xiezhang (Henry Chou), was born near Tianjin in 1892. After graduating from Oberlin College in Ohio, he received a PhD in education from Columbia University. Zhou married Ruth Xu (Xu Shuwen), daughter of Xu Qin (Huie Kin) at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City in 1923 and together they had five children.

In 1926 Zhou became professor and chairman of the education department at Yanjing University in Beijing, known for its distinguished faculty and influential alumni. Ruth taught physical education at both Yanjing and Beijing Universities. In the mid-1930s Zhou became dean of the college of arts and letters.

After the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, John Leighton Stuart, an American missionary, became President and Chancellor of Yanjing University. On the morning of December 8, 1941, Japanese police arrived at the campus and arrested some students and fifteen of Yanjing’s Chinese faculty members, including Zhou. The professors were first detained at the police headquarters, then moved to a military prison, where several were soon on the verge of death due to typhus and dysentery. Zhou’s fourteen-year-old daughter would bring him food, soap and clothing weekly. Because the campus had been evacuated to western China and the men received no salaries, their families lived hand-to-mouth in Beijing for the next three years until the Japanese surrender.

In 1945 Zhou died at the early age of 52 from poor health due to mistreatment while in detention. He was buried in the Episcopal Cemetery in Beijing next to his father-in-law, Xu Qin.


  • Dwight W. Edwards, Yenching University (New York: United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, 1959).

About the Author

Stacey Bieler

Research Associate, Global China Center, Michigan, USA