50 South Main Street, Doylestown, PA 18901
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“Dr. William Edgar Geil (1865-1925) Doylestown’s Evangelical World Explorer”

On Thursday, May 28, the Doylestown Historical Society will hold a private opening of an exhibition on the life and work of Dr. William Edgar Geil, a Doylestonian, who explored China, Africa, the Holy Land, and other far-off places. He wrote nine books about his travels and lectured widely in America, England, and Australia. In 1908 was the first person to traverse the Great Wall of China, an 82-day history-making event. In 1912 he and his wife built a large, 30-room concrete mansion about a mile south of Doylestown on Route 611 with a Chinese pagoda behind it. He visited China four times. In Africa he lived among pygmies and cannibals.

The exhibition will be open to the public beginning Saturday, May 30 – Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The Opening will feature a keynote by William Lindesay, founder of “The Friends of the Great Wall,” speaking from Beijing, and in person his staff member Piao, who will bring greetings to the Society.

Professor Arthur Waldron, University of Pennsylvania, prominent China specialist, will also be a speaker.

The exhibition was curated over several months by Marilyn Gustafson Arbor, daughter of Walter R. Gustafson, a local rare book dealer, who preserved Geil’s collection of papers and memorabilia for more than forty years. In 2008 Gustafson’s heirs donated the collection to the Society.

The Society is located at 56 South Main Street, Doylestown. Telephone: (215) 345-9430. Soylestown Historical Society web site can be found here.

Coming to town for this amazing exhibit? Stay with us.

Posted : May 15, 2009

Have you ever heard of Dr. William Edgar Geil? If you haven’t, you are missing out on learning about a fascinating life. One of the amazing things he did was be one of the first individuals to transverse the ENTIRE Great Wall of China.

Here is a link to a New York times article written about him.

His extrodinary life will be on display at the Doylestown Historical Society starting Sat. May 30th, and running every Saturday from 10 – 4. Or, if you can’t make it during this times, visits are welcomed through appointment.

After Geil’s widow died and 1959, the collection was auctioned to a rare books dealer in our area , Walter Gustafson, who also persevered it and left it to his heirs. In 2007 , they decided to donate the collection to our Society in accordance with his wishes to maintain it- and in his memory. Doylestown Historical Society‘s historian Tim Adamsky then discovered on-line “The International Friends of the Great Wall,” and contacted its founder , Wm. Lidesay, a Brit living in Beijing.

In June 2008, Lindesay came to Doylestown for a week to see where Geil had lived. The Doylestown Historical Society lent him the Chinese part of the collection to display in Beijing’s Imperial Museum this fall. See his attached article in China Daily.

The Doylestown Historical Society is now doing an exhibition on Geil curated by Marilyn Arbor , an accomplished curator -as well as a loving daughter of Walter Gustafson.

Posted : May 14, 2009