Onn Mann Liang Papers

Summary Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections
Liang, Onn M.
Onn Mann Liang papers
circa 1922-1971, 2013
0.5 Cubic feet

Preferred Citation

Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: "Item title, Collection title, Collection Identifier, Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, East Lansing, Michigan."

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Biographical Note

Onn Mann Liang was born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China on December 11, 1901. He attended the Kwangtung Engineering College and received a degree there and his major was in railroad engineering. 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 East Lansing to begin his studies in Engineering. Liang attended Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) from September 22, 1924 to June 21, 1926. He was one of a group of twenty international students who studied at Michigan State in the 1920s. Liang graduated from MSC in 1926 with a B.S. in Engineering.

Immediately after completing his undergraduate studies, Liang began working for the Michigan State Highway Department. He was terminated on May 1, 1932 due to a decrease in the Department's budget, a result of the Great Depression. While working at the Department, Liang traveled to see the bridges and architectural feats of Chicago, Illinois, and Buffalo, New York.

In 1932 Liang returned to Canton, China, where he opened his own engineering firm. At the same time, he worked for the Canton government. Liang designed dykes and bridges throughout the country. Liang married Janet Yee on January 5, 1936. Liang's wife was a native of Taishan, China. Their first child, a son, was born in 1937. He died in December of 1941 due to an illness. Their second son was born in October 1948.

Liang briefly lived in Hong Kong, from 1938 to 1939, before returning to China. He lived in Kukong, China from 1939 to 1945. During World War II, Liang worked for the U.S. Army. From 1948 to 1949 Liang worked for the United States Economic Cooperation Administration Mission to China, where he did repair work on the Sun Kwong Dyke project. He designed and supervised the construction of the Maternity Ward and Nurses Dormitory of the Fong Pin Hospital. His job was terminated on May 13, 1949 because the Chinese Government was losing grounds to the Communist Party. Following that, he took a job with the Audio-Visual Educational Unit, Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction. It was established in 1948 on mainland China then moved to Taiwan. Liang only worked for them for a short time before resigning in order to return to his family, who lived in Hong Kong.

From 1949 to 1956 the Liang family lived in Hong Kong, where Liang worked for the Hong Kong Engineering and Construction Co. LTD. from April 4, 1955 to August 15, 1956. During this time he also held a teaching job. He applied for the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, which at that time was for professional refugees only and required two sponsors. Fortunately, Liang developed many friendships while he was a student at Michigan State and they were more than willing to sponsor him. In September 1956 the Liang family took the President Wilson ocean liner to the United States. They settled in San Francisco, California, and Liang was able to get a job as an engineer. A few months after arriving in America, Liang passed away on April 13, 1957.

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Scope and Content

The Onn Mann Liang collection contains a scrapbook, photographs, 1926 Michigan State College (now Michigan State University) diploma, travel and work documents, and Chinese permits. The scrapbook contains photographs of MSC campus scenes, friends, and scenes. They also reflect his interest in bridges, engineering and architecture and include scenes from Chicago and Buffalo, New York. The photographs include graduation, family photos, and wedding photographs. There are also photographs of his son, Bennett Liang with his wife, Mona.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections

Conrad Hall
888 Wilson Road, Room 101
East Lansing , MI, 48824

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Legal Status

Copyright: Michigan State University. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

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Controlled Access Headings


  • Diplomas
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks

Geographic Name(s)

  • Lansing (Mich.)
  • Red Cedar River (Mich.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Liang, Bennett


  • College campuses -- Michigan -- East Lansing
  • College students -- Michigan -- East Lansing
  • Engineering -- Study and teaching
  • Foreign study
  • Students, Foreign

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Scrapbook images 1 - 29 Circa 1922-1926 

4321 1

Scrapbook images 30 - 47 Circa 1922-1926 

4321 2

Scrapbook images 48 - 51 1923-1931 

4321 3

Photocopy of scrapbook images with translations of captions 

4321 11

Graduation and family photographs 1926-1956 

4321 4

Wedding photographs 1936 

4321 5

Travel and work documents 1930-1956 

4321 6

Bennett Liang Certificate of Appreciation for Service in the US Armed Forces 1971 

4321 14

Scrapbook cover Circa 1930 

4321 7

Michigan State Highway Department employment verification 1932 

4321 8

Photographs- Onn Mann Liang sitting on the Fountain of the Tortoises and current photos of the fountain 1957, 2013 

4321 9

Photographs- Bennett and Mona Liang 

4321 10

Scrapbook page- Ma-On-Shan Iron Mining [groups of people] May 18, 1954 

4321 12

Photographs- First son of Onn Mann Liang - name unknown undated 

4321 13

Photographs- Bennett Liang 1950-2013, undated 

4321 14

Photographs- Family photographs undated 

4321 15


Box Folder

Chinese Civil Engineer registration document Circa 1936 

4322 1

Chinese permit to start a construction company Circa 1936 

4322 1

Michigan State College Diploma 1926 

4322 2