West meets East - Citizen of the world brings that world to campus library

Monday, October 11, 2004

The William M. Lindgren Collection, which is on exhibit beginning this fall, gives visitors an understanding of a man who lived his life globally, a “citizen of the world.”

Pieces from the Willima M. Lindgren CollectionA Minnesota man who spent his career in intelligence and as a businessman in the Middle and Far East brought together, during his travels, a valuable assortment of artifacts, photos, paintings, books and scrapbooks. Before his death in 1993 at the age of 71, William M. Lindgren bequeathed a portion of the collection to the SCSU library.

The William M. Lindgren Collection, which is on exhibit beginning this fall, gives visitors an understanding of a man who lived his life globally.

Lindgren was raised in Isanti County, earned two bachelor’s degrees at the University of Minnesota, served in London as a broadcaster to the Royal Canadian armed forces in Europe during World War II, then earned his master’s degree in Canada. Next he was off to China to work for U.S. Intelligence and for international companies like oil giant Caltex. His career included stays in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Nanking in China, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Syria, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Philippines.

In the collection are paintings from Pakistan; an opium lamp, painted scrolls and stoneware from China; wooden carvings from the Philippines; a brass and copper teapot from Tibet; Persian bowls; and swords, knives and vases from all over the world. Also in the collection are photo and scrapbook records of the people and politics in the lands where Lindgren spent time.

During his career, Lindgren frequently witnessed some of the world’s most tumultuous events: the French-Viet Nimh conflict, China’s change to the Communist Peoples Republic of China, the Chinese Communist subjugation of Tibet, and the Portuguese Revolution. Much of that history can be traced in his photo albums.

SCSU graduate student Christina Markwood-Rod, who is conducting an in-depth study of the collection and prepared the exhibit as part of her thesis, said alumni may remember Lindgren from when he taught interdisciplinary studies at SCSU in the ‘60s and again from 1975-1988. The graduate student believes Lindgren would have made a striking impression: “Here was this very tall man of Scandinavian descent who would surprise Chinese students by speaking to them in their native language.”

SCSU has had the collection since 1993, but the show opening this fall is the first scholarly, interpretive exhibit. “This is one of our largest collections,” says university archivist Pat Schenk, “and it’s the most visually pleasing and interesting of any we have.” The Lindgren Collection can be seen during regular library hours.

Images: A. Philippine carved bust of a woman. Early 20th Century B. Syrian knife and sheath. 20th Century C. Sino-Tibetan eating utensils and bowl. 19th Century D. Chinese bronze circular mirror. T’ang Dynasty, 618-906 A.D. E. Tibetan boots (dombador dhuse). 20th Century F. Chinese opium lamp. Early 19th Century

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