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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: September 2013


from Historical Dictionary of Pyongyang


BAIRD, WILLIAM MARTYN (1862–1931). An American Presbyterian missionary, he was born on 16 June 1862 in Clark County, Indiana, the son of John Martyn Baird and his wife Navy Agnes (née Faris). Educated at Hanover University, gaining a BA from there in 1885, and later a doctorate in 1903, from the McCormick Theological Seminary, on 18 December 1890 he married Annie Adams and the two, in 1891, went to Korea for missionary work.

Baird was originally at Busan (Pusan) and then moved to Pyongyang where, in 1897, he founded a school that became the basis of Soongsil University. He wanted to model it on Park College, Missouri and welcomed George S. McCune and Helen McAfee McCune onto the staff – Park College having been established by John Armstrong McAfee. He was then joined by Arthur Becker – Becker's oldest daughter later marrying the son of the McCunes. He remained president of the school when it became the Soongsil Academy, and then the Union Christian College, until his death on 28 November 1931 in Pyongyang. A leader in the adoption of the Nevius method of missionary work, he always saw local church self-improvement as being central to the role of missionaries. He was also involved in translating the Bible into Korean. His first wife died on 9 June 1916 and his second wife was Rose Mary Fetterolf, whom he married in 1899. He died from typhoid fever.