Title

Exhibit - Pioneers of International Education: Onn Mann Liang

International students have been travelling to study at Michigan State University for over 140 years, and what is even more fun about this population of students is that the individual experiences they shared with our campus often come back to MSU and can be reinvestigated and discovered. The scrapbooks and work documentation of Onn Mann Liang provide the story of one such student through photographs and a few brief correspondences from late high school until the year before his death in 1957.

Liang was one of a group of twenty international students who studied at MSU in the 1920s. In 1922 Liang began his nine-year stay in America as a fruit picker at Walnut Grove in California while he was living in Berkeley, California. He moved to Michigan a year later. For the next five months, Liang worked at a Chevrolet plant in Flint before coming to Lansing to begin his studies in Engineering.

During his time in at Michigan State College, Liang travelled extensively around Lansing and nearby areas of Michigan. His scrapbooks reveal how immersed he was in the campus lifestyle and the various activities he joined in – exploring, relaxing, and sightseeing. His photographs include images of himself and others canoeing and walking alongside the Red Cedar River or alternatively around the major sights of campus, such as Beaumont Tower or the Greenhouses. His campus pictures also reflect his early interest in bridge engineering – his scrapbooks include multiple artistic shots of various bridges around MSU, as do his post-graduation photographs of Chicago in 1928. While he was still attending school, Liang was known for the quality of his photographs (even winning a few awards), and he opened a photography studio in Lansing. These campus pictures are inter-mixed with oddly familiar and nostalgic college scenes of Liang looking perturbed at large drafting desks, reclining on lawn chairs, exploring nearby cities like Ann Arbor, and finally posing in his long-awaited cap and gown.

After completing his undergraduate studies in 1926, Liang interned with the Michigan State Highway Department for two years, at which point his scrapbook takes a journey to see the bridges and architectural feats of Chicago and Buffalo. The images of Chicago show such famous buildings as the Tribune Tower – which at the time of Liang’s visit had only been completed three years earlier – as well as the La Salle Street Bridge – which was built and completed throughout the year of 1928, and, as a bridge enthusiast, could very well have been the reason for Liang’s visit to the city. Within the next two years his travels also brought him to Buffalo, where we see images of the contemporary Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society, before he came back to Michigan and began working full time with the Highway Department. Some of Liang’s final photographs of his experiences in the US include him among coworkers at the Department, prior to his return Canton, China in 1932.

The last materials in Liang’s collections provide a brief overview of his life upon his return to China. Wedding photographs from 1936 and registration documents as a Civil Engineer show Liang’s quick integration back into Chinese life. Employment papers from the same period reveal Liang’s work under the Marshall Plan as a primary engineer of dyke and bridge plans throughout his native country, which, just as with his time spent at the Michigan State Highway Department, was a direct application of the education he received from MSU. After processing the Liang scrapbooks, it becomes apparent that he carried that education with him, even up to the last years of his life. The last image of the Liang scrapbook shows him on a return trip to San Francisco alongside his wife and son – with the Golden Gate Bridge receding behind.
Exhibit created by Emily Field, March 2013

Related Objects

"A Photographic Study" by Onn Mann Liang, 1931
"A Photographic Study" by Onn Mann Liang, 1931
1931
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Aerial view of Chicago, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
Aerial view of Chicago, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Buffalo Historical Society, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1930
Buffalo Historical Society, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1930
1930
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Coastline taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Coastline taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Date: 1920-1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Downtown Lansing night scene, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Downtown Lansing night scene, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Farm Lane Bridge with children, circa 1925
Farm Lane Bridge with children, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Five women on campus, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Five women on campus, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Five women posing outside, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Five women posing outside, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Graduation photograph by Onn Mann Liang, 1930
Graduation photograph by Onn Mann Liang, 1930
1930
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Graduation photograph taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1930
Graduation photograph taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1930
1930
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Graduation portrait of Onn Mann Liang, 1926
Graduation portrait of Onn Mann Liang, 1926
1926
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Kitchen utilities, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1922
Kitchen utilities, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1922
1922
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
La Salle Street Bridge in Chicago, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
La Salle Street Bridge in Chicago, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Lamp picture, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925 Lansing capitol at night, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Lansing capitol at night, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Lansing capitol building, circa 1925
Lansing capitol building, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Lansing capitol grounds view in winter, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Lansing capitol grounds view in winter, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Masonic Temple in Lansing by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Masonic Temple in Lansing by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Date: 1920-1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Mr. Young, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1929
Mr. Young, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1929
1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Man Liang surveying, 1929
Onn Man Liang surveying, 1929
1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang Civil Engineer registration, circa 1933
Onn Mann Liang and Mr. Luce, 1932
Onn Mann Liang and Mr. Luce, 1932
1932
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang and family arriving in San Francisco, 1956
Onn Mann Liang and family arriving in San Francisco, 1956
1956
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang and friends in Ann Arbor, 1924
Onn Mann Liang and friends in Ann Arbor, 1924
June 1924
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang and others on steps in Ann Arbor, 1924 Onn Mann Liang and two women at the Lansing capitol building, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang and two women at the Lansing capitol building, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang at the Michigan State Highway Department, 1930
Onn Mann Liang at the Michigan State Highway Department, 1930
1930
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang by the Red Cedar River, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang by the Red Cedar River, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang canoeing, 1926
Onn Mann Liang canoeing, 1926
1926
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang family wedding portrait, 1936
Onn Mann Liang family wedding portrait, 1936
January 5, 1936
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang fruit picking in California, 1923
Onn Mann Liang fruit picking in California, 1923
June 1923
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang graduation portrait, 1926
Onn Mann Liang graduation portrait, 1926
1926
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang high school portrait, 1918
Onn Mann Liang high school portrait, 1918
1918
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang high school portrait, 1919
Onn Mann Liang high school portrait, 1919
1919
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang highschool portrait, 1917 Onn Mann Liang in Flint, MI, 1923
Onn Mann Liang in Flint, MI, 1923
July 1923
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang in front of sink, circa 1922
Onn Mann Liang in front of sink, circa 1922
1922
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang inspecting camera, circa 1924
Onn Mann Liang inspecting camera, circa 1924
1924
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang near Beaumont Tower, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang near Beaumont Tower, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang on porch in Ann Arbor, 1924
Onn Mann Liang on porch in Ann Arbor, 1924
June 1924
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang on the Red Cedar, circa 1924
Onn Mann Liang on the Red Cedar, circa 1924
1924
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang on the SS Cleveland to China, 1932
Onn Mann Liang on the SS Cleveland to China, 1932
November 1932
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang on walking bridge, 1925
Onn Mann Liang on walking bridge, 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang outside with unidentified man, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang outside with unidentified man, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang picking fruit, 1923
Onn Mann Liang picking fruit, 1923
June 1923
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang portrait in Oakland, 1922
Onn Mann Liang portrait in Oakland, 1922
1922
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang posing next to a lamp post, 1927
Onn Mann Liang posing next to a lamp post, 1927
1927
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang posing with an unidentified man, 1928
Onn Mann Liang posing with an unidentified man, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang pre-college portrait, 1923
Onn Mann Liang pre-college portrait, 1923
1923
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang preparing surveying equipment, circa 1924
Onn Mann Liang preparing surveying equipment, circa 1924
1924
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang scrapbook page of a young woman, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang scrapbook page of a young woman, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang seated outside a house with unidentified man, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang seated outside a house with unidentified man, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang seated, 1926
Onn Mann Liang seated, 1926
1926
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang self-portrait, 1929
Onn Mann Liang self-portrait, 1929
1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang shadow self portrait, 1929
Onn Mann Liang shadow self portrait, 1929
1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang surveying, circa 1924
Onn Mann Liang surveying, circa 1924
1924
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang surveying, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang surveying, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang taking an outdoors photograph, 1930
Onn Mann Liang taking an outdoors photograph, 1930
1930
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with bride, 1936
Onn Mann Liang with bride, 1936
January 5, 1936
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with car and unidentified man, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang with car and unidentified man, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with fountain, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang with fountain, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with members of Cosmopolitan Club, 1925
Onn Mann Liang with members of Cosmopolitan Club, 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with others on campus, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang with others on campus, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with the Michigan State Highway Department, circa 1926
Onn Mann Liang with the Michigan State Highway Department, circa 1926
1926
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with the Michigan State Highway Department, circa 1929
Onn Mann Liang with the Michigan State Highway Department, circa 1929
1929
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with unidentified friend in Ann Arbor, 1924
Onn Mann Liang with unidentified friend in Ann Arbor, 1924
June 1924
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with unidentified man near fountain, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang with unidentified man near fountain, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with unidentified man, 1928
Onn Mann Liang with unidentified man, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang with wife and child, 1957
Onn Mann Liang with wife and child, 1957
1957
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang working at desk, 1921
Onn Mann Liang working at desk, 1921
1921
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang's house, circa 1923
Onn Mann Liang's house, circa 1923
1923
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang's student house, circa 1925
Onn Mann Liang's student house, circa 1925
1925
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Onn Mann Liang, first year at MSC, 1924
Onn Mann Liang, first year at MSC, 1924
1924
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Pin hole picture by Onn Man Liang, circa 1925
Pin hole picture by Onn Man Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang in California, 1923
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang in California, 1923
1923
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang, 1927
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang, 1927
1927
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang, 1928
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Portrait of Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
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MSU Archives and Historical Collections
St. Mary Cathedral Parish in Lansing, circa 1925
St. Mary Cathedral Parish in Lansing, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Street with tank and men, photographed by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Street with tank and men, photographed by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
The Red Cedar flooding the banks, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
The Red Cedar flooding the banks, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Tribune Tower in Chicago, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
Tribune Tower in Chicago, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Two girls by the Red Cedar River, circa 1925
Two girls by the Red Cedar River, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Two women on campus, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Two women on campus, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Two young women near the Red Cedar, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Two young women near the Red Cedar, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Unidentified young people, photographed by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Unidentified young people, photographed by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
View of Beaumont Tower, circa 1925
View of Beaumont Tower, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
View of Beaumont Tower, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
View of Beaumont Tower, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
View of campus taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
View of campus taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Winter scene, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
Winter scene, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
Women posing on steps, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
Women posing on steps, taken by Onn Mann Liang, 1928
1928
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections
YWCA Building, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
YWCA Building, taken by Onn Mann Liang, circa 1925
1925
Image: jpg
MSU Archives and Historical Collections