Lingnan University Glories

Lingnan University (嶺南大學) and its predecessor, Canton Christian College (嶺南學校) played important roles in Ch’en Shou-yi’s life. Ch’en and his brothers completed their undergraduate programs in Lingnan and Ch’en taught there before teaching in Peking and the US. Even though Ch’en never got a chance to return to his alma mater coming to the US during WWII, Lingnan still occupied his life with its alumni and faculty network. Many people we have introduced in the past weeks had deep relationships with Lingnan. Chan Wing-tsit (陳榮捷), Ch’en’s colleague at the University of Hawaii as well as lifetime friend, was an Lingnan alumnus. Dr. Clinton N. Laird (Chinese name: 梁敬敦), famous American chemist, served as a Lingnan faculty member with his wife and daughter, who were interned by the Japanese in Hong Kong during WWII. Lau Tai-chi (劉體志), Ch’en’s cousin, was also a Lingnan alumnus. Additionally, Lau’s father, another famous dentist like Lau, participated into the foundation of Lingnan. This week I processed Ch’en’s collections of photos and images, which recorded the history of Lingnan University and the glory of great Chinese and American figures who contributed to Lingnan.

Canton Christian College cover

The brochure, Canton Christian College (嶺南學校), was likely published between 1903 and 1927, because before 1903, Lingnan was called Christian College while after 1927, Lingnan was transformed into Lingnan University (hereinafter referred to as Lingnan). This brochure introduced the inception and development of Lingnan. Lingnan was established by American Presbyterian missionaries Rev. B. C. Henry and Dr. A. P. Happer in Canton City, Kwangtung (Guangdong) Province, in 1888. Due to financial conditions and unstable domestic situations, Lingnan was relocated to Macau and Hong Kong. This brochure also introduced some revolutionary figures such as Dr. Wing Kong Chung (鍾榮光), the dean and first Chinese president of Lingnan, and Dr. Charles K Edmunds (Chinese name: 晏文士), who became the president of Pomona College and invited Ch’en to teach there.

Lingnan’s founder and Period of Inception

In 1911, Ch’en was admitted by Lingnan. In 1920, Chen taught at Lingnan after graduation. In 1925, Chen became an Associated Professor and travelled to University of Chicago to learn comparative literature. I think during this time, Ch’en maintained a deep relationship with Dr. Chung and Dr. Edmunds and witnessed their contributions. Dr. Chung raised funds among global Chinese diasporas and enhanced Chinese studies at Lingnan. Dr. Edmunds also accelerated a series of reforms at Pomona College such as supporting Ch’en to establish Asian studies after becoming the president of Pomona College. Lingnan was a missionary college, where many students, including Ch’en, attended to become Christians. Meanwhile, with the contributions of Dr. Chung and Dr. Edmunds, Lingnan preserved excellent Chinese studies and developed comprehensive subjects including science and physical education. Thanks to the diversity and tolerance of Lingnan, Ch’en was able to explore the communication of Christianism and Confucianism in his academic life. Lingnan also became a symbol of American missionary’s contributions to the Chinese modern education.

Left: Dr. Wing Kwong Chung; Right: A pamphlet on a welcome party at Lingnan for Dr. Chung, circa 1926 when Dr. Chung returned with raised funds from America
Left: Dr. C. K. Edmunds; Middle: Cover of the funeral services of Dr. Edmunds; Right: Ch’en’s funeral addresses to Dr. Edmunds

Organizations Galore

Hello everyone,

This week I managed to process 3 more boxes from the Platt collection. It looks like I have about 10 more boxes to go! The semester has flown by, and it still feels like I have only just started…

In the 3 boxes this week, I came across a variety of documents. Most of the folders contained even more information regarding Platt’s involvement in organizations, such as the National Energy Foundation Board, the Lincoln Foundation, Town Hall, the Cosmos Club, the Twilight Club, the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society), and the Thacher School of Ojai, California. The folders held documents of correspondence, meeting minutes, photographs, newsletters, posters and maps, and newspaper articles. Although I know very little about these organizations, it was interesting to be able to step into the life of Platt and experience these documents with an inside-perspective.

More next week!


Photographs of some of the articles and newsletters from the organizations

A Glimpse of Ch’en Family via Ch’en’s Correspondence  

Disclaimer: This post contains images of historical documents, some of which include perspectives and language reflecting the time in which they were written. The Claremont Colleges Library does not endorse all the views expressed in these documents.

This week I input some correspondences between Ch’en and his family members. In the past weeks we have introduced Ch’en Shou-yi’s academic contributions and social relationships. This week I would like to briefly introduce part of Ch’en’s family. Ch’en’s brothers like Stanley H. Chan (陳受康) were also scholars and left works in Ch’en’s collections of academic offprints. In order to study Chen Li (or Chan Lai, 陳澧), the brother of Ch’en Shou-yi’s great grandfather as well as the leader of Lingnan intellectuals, Ch’en studied his clan and left some family trees. Thanks to Ch’en’s research and correspondence, we are able to study his family and glimpse their life in the modern Chinese history. 

Ch’en’s Family Tree 1, Ch’en’s brothers and sister are included

Tak-yi (德儀) was Ch’en’s elder sister. Ch’en’s collection preserves her family’s letters to Ch’en when Ch’en and his wife were stuck in Shanghai due to the Japanese invasion. In a letter from Tak-yi to Ch’en, Tak-yi described her frightening experience during a Japanese airstrike in Canton. Thanks to Ch’en’s help from the United States, Tak-yi and her family were able to move to Hong Kong in 1937. Tak-yi’s children, Ch’en’s niece and nephew, were grateful to Ch’en, and felt worried about Ch’en’s situation in Shanghai. The children suffered through Japanese airstrikes, but  luckily survived in Hong Kong. According to other governmental documents in Ch’en’s collections, Ch’en had completed his research in the US, and went back to China to continue his professor career in Peiping (now Beijing). However, due to the breakout of the Japanese invasion, Ch’en and his wife were stuck in Shanghai, and they had to return to the United States while searching for a job on an American campus. The war changed Ch’en and his family completely.

Lau Tai-chi (劉體志) is Ch’en’s elder cousin and Lau also completed his undergraduate program at Canton Christian College (Lingnan University). Ch’en’s collections preserved correspondences from Lau. Some of the letters from Lau discussed academic issues and other letters talked about their family. Lau mentioned his daughter’s weddings, his life, and his viewpoints on politics. Lau and Ch’en had many common friends, and some of Ch’en’s friends left letters admiring Lau and his wife, Tai-lim (體濂).

Ch’en’s Family Tree 2, Ch’en’s cousin Lau Tai-chi and his family are included

There are also some other materials, such as greeting cards, in Ch’en’s collection that disclose the life of Ch’en’s family members in both China and the US. During this chaotic era, like many other Chinese people, Ch’en’s family experienced the fortunate and misfortunate life. Ch’en’s collections on his family provide valuable resources to study China during this era.

Harvey Mudd College Diary

This week I looked through 2 binders titled “The Harvey Mudd College Diary” and found out a bit more about Harvey Mudd College’s beginnings. As expected, establishing a new college is not a simple thing. George Wickes, one of the original founding members of the college, documented the highs and lows of the first three years of the college. Today I want to share some excerpts from the diary.

September 20, 1957

“This morning we all had a sense that Harvey Mudd College had at last come into being… In the afternoon the College trustees made it official with a tour of inspection. Although the dust had not yet settled, they seemed as pleased with it as we are.”

September 26, 1957

“This date should go down in history as marking the formal opening of Harvey Mudd College… President Platt then turned to the future of Harvey Mudd College, inviting all present to look back from the vantage point of the year 2000 and consider what we might behold. Thus he brought it home to us that the responsibility is ours: ‘The future of Harvey Mudd College is what we make of it.'”

October 4, 1957

“We ran head-on into the solid realities of building a new college this afternoon at faculty meeting when we began to consider plans for a science building and to peer into the future generally. How many students shall we admit, how many dorms shall we build, how many classrooms and labs will we need?

October 8, 1957

“General alarm as Bill Davenport reported at faculty meeting that some of our students are discouraged about their studies, a few to the point of being panic-stricken, one even ready to bolt. Probably they suffer only from a routine case of freshman blues, but without upperclassmen to diagnose their ailment, they are understandably demoralized.”

May 20, 1958

“Already we’re beginning to celebrate anniversaries. It seems hard to believe, but a year ago we first gathered as a faculty to plan what we were going to do. Claremont was strange to us then, the college illusory, without students or buildings, the whole week rather unreal as we met briefly and exchanged ideas, only to disperse again our several ways.”

Though these are only a few pieces from a few diary entries, it shows that so much time, effort, and patience goes into something of this scale.

More next week!


Ch’en Shou-yi, A Bridge Connecting China and The United States cultures 

Disclaimer: This post contains images of historical documents, some of which include perspectives and language reflecting the time in which they were written. The Claremont Colleges Library does not endorse all the views expressed in these documents.

This week I processed Ch’en Shou-yi’s correspondences. As we know, Ch’en was so professional at West-East exchange that he also transplanted his academic perspective to analysis of contemporary politics. As a result, in this box of Ch’en’s correspondence, I found many invitations from different organizations to invite Ch’en to introduce and analyze China. Ch’en was not only a mere scholar on campus, but also was an active participant in social activities to introduce Chinese culture, study Chinese domestic situations, and explore better ways to teach Chinese language and related Chinese studies. 

In the past weeks we have introduced the connections between Ch’en and global scholars who focus on Chinese studies. Due to Ch’en’s success in Chinese studies on American campuses, scholars in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore wrote to Ch’en for suggestions and experiences in Chinese education. Ch’en’s contribution and influence in education fields also led him to be attractive to public audiences, who were eager to better understand China from a distance. On the one hand, many Chinese associations in the US such as China Institute in America, invited Ch’en for speeches not only for introducing Chinese culture, but also for drawing public attention on the Japanese invasion in China. Ch’en’s friends like famous Chinese writer Lin Yutang, and scholar Hu Shih, were important members or even founders of such associations, and thereby played important roles in introducing Ch’en to the public. On the other hand, American people were also passionate to understand China during the Cold War, and eager to review the failure of American diplomatic strategy in China with the victory of Chinese communists. Although Ch’en had his own political stance, he tried to introduce China vividly to the public from his perspective of Chinese culture, and reviewed the moral crisis and culture suppression in political movements. By studying the participations of Ch’en in various governmental and non-governmental organizations, scholars may uncover Ch’en’s social network in the United States, and understand how Ch’en became a bridge to maintain the cultural communication of China and the United States. 

Left: Invitation from China Institute in America; Middle: Ch’en’s lecture on Chinese culture at China Institute in America; Right: A brief introduction of Ch’en Shou-yi on the back of a lecture pamphlet
Left: Invitation from The Library of International Relations; Middle: Invitation from The East and West Association; Right: Pamphlet on a radio discussion in which Ch’en participated
A pamphlet on Ch’en’s Lectures

Japan: Two Sides in Ch’en Shou-yi Collections

Disclaimer: This post contains images of historical documents, some of which include perspectives and language reflecting the time in which they were written. The Claremont Colleges Library does not endorse all the views expressed in these documents.

In the past weeks we have introduced Ch’en Shou-yi’s contributions to the East-West exchange. As for the East civilizations, China is not Ch’en’s only one research topic. Actually, Chen did comprehensive research on other East Asian countries like Korea and Japan. This week I processed booklets, which were collected by Ch’en, and I was impressed by the many booklets on Japan. On the one hand, the booklets published from 1930s to 1940s reflected Japanese military aggression and expansion. On the other hand, the booklets published after WWII reflected the reconstruction and development of Japan and Japanese culture.

When the Second Sino-Japan War (China calls it Anti-Japanese War in these booklets) broke out in 1937, governmental and non-governmental agencies published  many booklets to disclose the war crimes of Japanese invaders, report on the suffering of refugees, and appeal to the world for aid.  For example, in 1933, The Intelligence and Publicity Department published a bulletin on the Japanese military aggression in Shanghai. In 1937, Chinese scholars Jen Tai (任泰) and Shuhsi Hsü (徐淑希) wrote several Information Bulletin to discuss the Japanese aggressive expansion policy in North China and related Sino-Japanese Crisis. In 1938, the China Information Committee, an official ministry of information of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), published a series of booklets reflecting the Japanese invasion and propaganda in China. In a booklet Pictorial Evidence of Japanese Atrocities, the China Information Committee even attached pictures of  executions by the Japanese military. In 1938, The Press Bureau of The Chinese Delegation published booklets criticizing the uselessness of the League of Nations in the Japanese invasion. Non-governmental agencies like Manchuria Refugees’ Relief Association exposed Japanese brutalities in Manchuria in a booklet. In addition, Ch’en collected booklets written and published by non-Chinese. Facts of The China Trouble was published by the contemporary Japanese Chamber of Commerce, trying to find excuses for Japanese aggression. The Sino-Japanese Issue Series contains some issues written by foreign reporters like (Mrs. Paul D.) Mary Fine Twinem, S. Lautenschlager, Rev. E. Stanley Jones, D.D., recording their witness of Japanese aggression in China. Additionally, as we introduced last week, Dr. Clinton N. Laird published his Life In A Japanese Internment Camp in 1943, introducing his family captured by Japanese invaders in Hong Kong. Chinese Americans also organized United China Relief to save Chinese refugees. After visiting China and talking to suffering people, United China Relief published What Li Wen Saw, to appeal to the American people for refugee relief.   

(Left: Life in A Japanese Internment Camp; Right: The Sino-Japanese Crisis

After WWII, Ch’en got an opportunity to visit Japan, and collected booklets reflecting Japanese religion and culture, especially on famous Japanese Buddhist temples like 熊野寺 (Kumano Temple) and 西光寺 (Saikou Temple). Japan: A Packet for Teachers contains a series of booklets on Japanese culture and history published by the Japan Society. In 1957, Japanese Prime Minister Kishi visited the US, and Ch’en collected the booklet published by Consulate General of Japan. At that time, the US and Japan had been allies and Japan was recovering rapidly form the war. As a Chinese American scholar, Ch’en paid attention to the suffering people of his homeland. With the end of the war, he finally focused on his interest in culture and history, and even had the opportunity to visit Japan in person. Booklets on Japan in Ch’en’s collections reflected two sides of Japan: the war provoked by aggressive Japanese invaders led Japan to the verge of destruction while peace made Japanese culture prosperous. 

(Japanese scenery: Hirosaki Castle in cherry blossom time) 
(Japanese Prime Minister Kishi and his family; The boy on the left was the young Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) 

Jean Platt Appreciation

Hi everyone!

Since today is International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, I wanted to highlight and honor Jean Platt. Jean Ferguson Platt was born in 1922 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. She attended Miami University in Ohio and graduated with a degree in mathematics in 1943, and afterward worked for the Polaroid Company as a technician. A few years later, in 1946, she married Joseph Platt and together they had two daughters.

In 1956, when Joseph Platt agreed to become the President of Harvey Mudd, the Platt family all moved to Claremont, California, to start a new life. As I have been looking through files these past few weeks, I found that Jean became active in many organizations, such as the Red Cross, Girl Scouts of America, the United Church of Christ, Campus Women, and the ARCS Foundation. She was also skilled in silver crafting and would gift a silver piece for Harvey Mudd College students when they married.

Jean established herself as an incredible wife, mother, and community member. She and Joseph were an intelligent and motivated team, and together, they created a meaningful impact on both Harvey Mudd College, and the city of Claremont.

I won’t be here next week for Spring Break, but I look forward to picking up where I left off again next time!


The Glory of Scholars and Students in WWII

Disclaimer: This post contains images of historical documents, some of which include perspectives and language reflecting the time in which they were written. The Claremont Colleges Library does not endorse all the views expressed in these documents.

Newspapers, magazines, and other paper publications are important primary sources. As an outstanding historian, Ch’en Shou-yi preserved valuable publications. Two weeks ago, I briefly introduced Ch’en’s offprints, and this week I processed newspapers and magazine clippings, which Ch’en collected. Ch’en’s newspaper clippings and magazine excerpts dated from the 1910s to 1970s, covering many mainstream newspaper and magazine presses in both China and the United States such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Ta-Kung-Pao (大公報), Wen Wei Po (文匯報), and Shun Pao (申報). Ch’en had comprehensive interests in Chinese literature, history, linguistics, art, and education. In addition, Ch’en paid attention to contemporary global politics from the 1911 Revolution in China to the Cold War situations. I am impressed by some newspaper clippings on the news during the WWII because I found the participation and contributions of faculty, staff, and students from Lingnan University in Canton, China, and The Claremont Colleges.  

Dr. Clinton N. Laird was a chemist and the dean of Lingnan University, which was Ch’en Shou-yi’s alma mater. Mrs. Laird, a missionary nurse, also worked for Lingnan University, and was detained by Japanese invaders in Hong Kong after the breakout of the Pacific War in 1941. Some of Ch’en Shou-yi’s newspaper clippings focus on Mrs. Laird and other American citizens detained in Hong Kong, who were later released due to the pressure from American government. Dr. Laird wrote works such as Life in A Japanese Internment Camp and the Lairds participated actively in various public speeches to disclose the brutality of Japanese fascists and encourage American patriots to fight against fascists. (Ch’en Shou-yi’s booklets collections preserved related materials and I will introduce these in the future weeks). Ch’en’s newspaper clippings also describe Dr. Laird’s daughter, Miss Catherine Laird, who was born in Canton, China, and was able to speak Japanese. Having experienced Japanese invasion, Miss Laird fearlessly served the war work. In addition, Dr. Charlotte Gower, a female Professor of Anthropologists at Lingnan University, joined the United States Marines and became Capt. Charlotte Gower. After being released by Japanese troops as a POW, Capt. Gower told the public the life as a captive.  

Students from The Claremont Colleges also contributed to a great extent during WWII. James H. (Jimmy) Howard was an alumnus of Pomona College. After graduation, he joined the AVG (American Volunteer Group) led by Colonel Claire L. Chennault, to fight against Japanese Army Air Force. The AVG, nicknamed the Flying Tigers, became famous for their campaigns in China and Southeast Asia. Laurence G. Thompson, whom I introduced two weeks ago, was another Claremont Colleges student and studied under Ch’en Shou-yi. Dr. Thompson was born in Shandong Province, China and got his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University). During the WWII, Dr. Thompson served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Japanese-language interpreter, and fought in the South Pacific. After WWII Dr. Thompson was well-known for his contributions to East Asian studies.  

Scholars and students always have passion for the justice, empathy, and brotherhood for mankind. Ch’en’s newspaper and magazine collections recorded their contributions. Their sacrifice and glory should always be remembered.  

Reports from The New York Times on American citizens interned by Japanese troops in Hong Kong.
Left: Reports on Pomona College Alumnus, Jimmy Howard joined AVF; Right: The Laird’s contributions to the war work.

Starting the Harvey Mudd College Series

After wrapping up the majority of Joseph Platt’s biographic boxes, I have taken this week to adjust to the files relating to Harvey Mudd College. Trying to figure out the best way to take on this portion of the collection has been challenging, yet exciting. Platt became Harvey Mudd College’s first president in 1957, and remained as president until 1976. He then went on to become the president of the Claremont University Consortium, and returned to Harvey Mudd College in 1981.

Mixed in with these documents, I also found some of the organizations he was a part of such as the National Energy Foundation Board, the Southwest Museum, Cosmos Club, the World Affairs Council, and the National Research Council. The folders contained an abundance of correspondence, annual reports, meeting minutes, and articles. Once again, Platt shows us how busy he was. Finally, I also discovered that Platt had earned his pilot’s license in 1945. Although this is from much earlier in his life, I was surprised to find his license and certificates.

More next week!