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Alfred Tingle Letters to Lillian Tingle

Identifier: SC 01592

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

Eight letters from brother in Tientsin, China to his sister in Oregon, both of whom expatriated from Britain. Both were British ex-patriots. Alfred was a chemist and working for the Imperial Chinese Mint at the time of this letters. Lillian was a food columnist for the Oregonian newspaper. Alfred writes about current events in his area, the ousting of all of the Japanese from his region, activities in Afghanistan, work progress, some of his publications in scientific journals, and of his charge, a small girl whom he is determined to have learn English and become a teacher of such. As a last resort he would allow her to become a missionary. Alfred also comments in most of his letters how infrequently he receives letters from his sister, and how often they seem to get lost while en route to him.


  • Creation: 1909 Jan 3- April 26


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from the Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Biographical / Historical

The following biographical information has been generously provided by Alastair H. Thomas, Professor Emeritus, Leyland, UK.

John Bishop Tingle (1866-1918), Lilian Ella Tingle (1872-1951) and Alfred Tingle (1876-1955) were the children of Mary Elizabeth Bishop (1846-1891) and her husband, Alfred Tingle (1832-1877), a miller and grocer in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. Mary’s brothers were John and Joseph. Dr John Bishop (1841-86) was a pioneer with Joseph Lister of antiseptic surgery, and married Isabella Bird, the much-published travel writer. Joseph Thomas Ford Bishop (1843-1925) was a chemical industry entrepreneur and Secretary of Manchester Chemical Club.

John Bishop Tingle obtained his BSc in Manchester and his Chemistry PhD in Munich, Germany, then taught in high schools in Bristol and Aberdeen, Scotland, to secure his brother Alfred’s education. In 1898 he moved to USA to lecture on Chemistry at the Lewis Institute, Chicago; from 1907 was Professor of Chemistry at McMaster University, Toronto. Lilian Tingle learned Domestic Economy in Aberdeen and taught this and German at the State Manual Training School, Ellendale, North Dakota, 1899-1905. She then moved to Portland, Oregon, to become Director of the School of Domestic Science, later called the Girls’ Polytechnic School. She also wrote on Home Economics and travel topics for The Oregonian, as mentioned in the letters. In 1917 she moved to Eugene to found the Dept. of Household Arts in the University of Oregon, which holds three albums of carte-de-visite photographs of Tingle family members and others.

Alfred Tingle attended Aberdeen University and obtained his Chemistry PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1898. In 1904 he was appointed as a professor at the Shantung Provincial College in China and remained in China, living in Tientsin (Tianjin), until 1912 as a Chemistry consultant, working some of the time at the Imperial Chinese Pei Yang Mint. He returned to USA/Canada in 1912 when China transitioned from the Imperial Manchu Qing Dynasty to the Republic of China.

Letters in the collection span only January to April 1909. Alfred wrote regularly to Lilian but many letters did not arrive. His comments are very guarded on politics but mention mess-room gossip about impending trouble in distant Afghanistan. His advances in chemistry are referenced obliquely (and presumably published in scientific journals). Lilian had earlier visited him in China and met some of his acquaintances, on whom he comments. He had taken on the care and education of a young Chinese girl, referred to as ‘the Responsibility’ or ‘R’ or ‘the youngster’ and she is mentioned recurrently. She appears to have stayed in China when he left for the USA.

Additional genealogical information is available within the collection.


0.01 Linear Feet



Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Read 'Em Again Books with funds from the Maurine and William Dulin Fund, 2018.


Guide to the Alfred Tingle Letters to Lillian Tingle
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository