Finding aid for the Holt A. Cheng, MD Papers

Holt A. Cheng, MD Papers
Medical Heritage Center
Cheng, Holt
0.5 linear feet
This collection contains information about Dr. Cheng.
Spec.201120. Cheng
The records are in English

Biography of Holt Cheng

Holt Alexander Cheng was born on November 6, 1878 in the Wu Shi Village, Zhongshan County, Guangdong Province, China, to a farmer's family. At the age of eight, he and his cousin, Yuk, were sent to Honolulu, Hawaii, to work for their uncle who owned a small grocery store. After closing hours, the boys attended evening school and eventually graduated from a Hawaiian high school. When their uncle retired, the boys traveled to California. Cheng worked his way through the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco by picking apples and selling pictures on the street. In 1904, he became the first Chinese ever to pass the California Medical Board examination. After graduating, Cheng returned to China to practice Western medicine and to be with his parents. After his return, he was invited to a special symbolic examination in the Imperial Palace in Peking and was immediately awarded the special degree of "Medical Ju Ren," the fourth highest scholarly degree given by the palace. Cheng was then appointed as the Expectant Secretary of the Grand Secretariat and Head Master of the Imperial Army Medical College in Canton. In June 1909, Cheng represented the Imperial Chinese Government at the International Leprosy Conference in Bergen, Norway. After the conference, he traveled back to San Francisco to marry his longtime sweetheart, Edna Rachel Lee. The wedding took place on March 29, 1910. Back in Canton, Cheng became a successful doctor and an astute businessman. He was one of the founders of the Hong Nian (Healthy Life) Life Insurance Company, one of the largest and oldest insurance companies in Hong Kong. Out of a need to provide medical care for the Chinese people during the reign of Manchurian controlled Imperial China, Cheng and his physician friends founded the Guangdong Hua Medical School in 1908. The school was the first of its kind, completely run by Chinese, taught by Chinese, and the first to admit female students. Cheng devoted his entire life to medical education in China. He was the medical school chancellor for 23 years. Cheng retired in 1931 due to health problems. After his son Homer's elementary school was bombed by the Japanese, the family decided to go to a friend's home temporarily in the Guangxi Province, situated deep within the mountains. They lived there for the next eight and a half years. Cheng died there with his wife and son at his side in 1942. There was no medical care available and his physician son believed he died of cancer and/or liver disease. The medical school moved from Guangzhou to Hong Kong shortly before the Japanese occupied the city. After Hong Kong fell to the Japanese army in 1943, the school closed and students transferred to other schools in the interior of China. In 1945, the school reopened at its original campus in Guangzhou, but there was no building as all structures has been destroyed by the Japanese during their occupation. The alumni association rebuilt the school and erected a monument in memory of Cheng.

Scope and Content

The Holt A. Cheng, MD Papers (0.5 linear feet) contains information about Dr. Cheng.

Statement of Arrangement

The collection is arranged alphabetically.

Restrictions on Access

The collection is open to the public and is available for viewing in the Medical Heritage Center. Materials do not circulate and must be used in the supervised reading room. Restrictions, including copyright, may exist and some materials may be too fragile to photocopy or digitize. The MHC charges for duplication services, which must be performed by staff.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.



Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Holt A. Cheng, MD Papers, Spec.201120.Cheng, Medical Heritage Center, Health Sciences Library, The Ohio State University.

Other Finding Aid

Detailed Description of The Collection

Box 1 / Folder 1
Article - Dr. H. A. Cheng Graduated from College of Physicians, 1910

Box 1 / Folder 2
Article - First Chinese San Francisco Medical School Graduate: Holt Cheng, MD, 2003

Box 1 / Folder 3
Article - First of Race Permitted to Practice Here, 1904

Box 1 / Folder 4
Article - The Historical Journey, 2003

Box 1 / Folder 5
Binder: Documentation of Holt Alexander Cheng, MD, 1878-1942, 2002

Box 1 / Folder 6
Book: Celebration of 90th Anniversary of Guang Hua Medical College (in Chinese), No Date

Box 1 / Folder 7
CD: Documents and Photo Album, 2003

Box 1 / Folder 8
CHIPS Yearbook, 1904

Box 1 / Folder 9
Letters from U.S.A. of Cheng's Accomplishments, 2002

Box 1 / Folder 10
Photographs, 2002-2003

Box 1 / Folder 11
Program for Holt A. Cheng Exhibition, No Date

Box 1 / Folder 12
Publication: Contact Point, 2003

Box 1 / Folder 13
Publication: The Unshakable - Rebirth of S.F. Chinatown in 1906, 2006

Box 1 / Folder 14
Oversized Article: The Father of All Chinese Doctors, 2003