Student Handbooks

Hi everyone,

Just a quick update this week! With only a couple more weeks to go for the semester, I am nearing the end of the collection. The next three boxes I have left consist of books that were owned by Joseph Platt. Aside from this, the folder content I processed were documents related to Harvey Mudd College, Organizations, and Biographical Materials. The items that stood out to me were the Harvey Mudd College student handbooks because of their unique cover designs. The handbooks were created as a way for students to navigate their semester, whether they were new or returning students. The 1971 edition called, “An Amateur Mudder’s Handbook” contains sections titled, “Rules of the Game” which outline the ethics and responsibilities of being an HMC student. “Gameboard” details the important locations the students need to know. Finally, the last section, “Playing the Game” gives advice to students on a variety of subjects.

More next week!


Ch’en Shou-yi’s Personal Documents

This week I processed a small box full of Ch’en Shou-yi’s personal documents such as his diaries, to-do lists, address books, official documents, appointment letters, governmental forms, and materials on his family. Ch’en’s personal documents provide supplementary sources for research of contemporary Chinese scholars in the United States.

As a scholar, Ch’en collected many books for his research and for The Oriental Library (now Asian Library at The Claremont Colleges Library). This box preserves the receipts from various bookstores and presses in China such as The K’ai T’ung Bookstore (開通書社), Sui Ya Zhai (邃雅齋), Lai Xun Ge (來薰閣), and others. Due to Ch’en’s contributions to Chinese studies, Ch’en was appointed by colleges and institutes in both China and the United States. This box preserves Ch’en’s letters of appointment from Academia Sinica in Taiwan and Peking University China foundations, as well as governmental documents for travel and work like IRS taxation forms, and the entry forms to the US and Taiwan.

From left to right: three receipts from book sellers Lai Qing Ge (來青閣), Sui Ya Zhai (邃雅齋), and Lai Xun Ge (來薰閣)
Left: Appointment record from the University of Hawaii; Right: Appointment record from Academia Sinica

Among these materials, I was really impressed by the conversation notes between Ch’en and one of his Japanese friends, Katsuki Tamura (田村克喜) written during Ch’en’s visit to Japan. On four small notes, Ch’en and Tamura wrote simple Chinese characters to talk about Ch’en’s research topic, and Ch’en answered Tamura’s question on why he was not able to return to Mainland China because of the contemporary communism movements. At the time, Ch’en seemed unable to speak Japanese and Tamura did not speak English. Thanks to the same Chinese characters in both Chinese and Japanese, the two scholars successfully completed their conversation with pen and papers. With the same passion and friendship in research, language was no longer an obstacle for Ch’en to expand his social circle.

Left: Katsuki Tamura’s (田村克喜) business card; Right: Tamura extends his best wishes to Ch’en

Hu Shih Materials in Ch’en Shou-yi Papers

If we study modern Chinese history, Hu Shih (胡適) should be an inevitable name. As a scholar, Hu Shih introduced methodologies he learned in the United States to renovate modern Chinese history, philosophy, and literature studies. As a poet, Hu Shih wrote the first poem in modern vernacular Chinese (白話文), thereby affecting the reform of modern Chinese language. Hu, like most contemporary scholars, introduced democracy and science into China, trying to enlighten people and establish a liberal new China. As the representative of liberalist scholars, Hu and the founders of Chinese Communist Party, Chen Duxiu (or Ch’en Tu-hsiu, 陳獨秀) and Li Dazhao (or Li Ta-chao, 李大釗), participated in the New Culture Movement and May Fourth Movement to innovate Chinese culture and gain China’s independence. Mao Zedong (or Mao Tse-tung, 毛澤東) was Hu’s student. During World War II, Hu became a celebrated politician in Chiang Kai-shek’s administration and was appointed as the Chinese Ambassador to the United States. As a result, Hu maintained close relationships with both the liberal and conservative parties in China, not to mention numerous Chinese scholars including his lifetime friend, Ch’en Shou-yi. The Ch’en Shou-yi Papers has a box full of Hu Shih’s materials including Hu’s manuscripts, offprints, newspaper clippings, and cassette and recording tapes, all valuable materials to study Hu Shih.  

Hu Shih’s works in Ch’en Shou-yi papers includes Hu’s research on ancient Chinese philosophy like The Development of The Logical Method in Ancient China (先秦名學史), Buddhist studies like A Third Tunhuang Text of the Discourses of the Monk Shen-Hui (神會和尚語錄的第三個敦煌寫本《南陽和尚問答雜徵義:劉澄集》), and history studies such as Hsüeh Tsan, The Han-Shu Commentator (注漢書的薛瓚). Hu Shih also left two handwritten manuscripts on Chinese classics like Ch’ing-hsi wen chi hsü pien (青溪文集續編), and a published book, The Chinese Renaissance, likely a gift to Ch’en because of the handwritten compliments. In addition to academic works on Chinese history, literature, and philosophy, Hu also published his comments on politics such as China in Stalin’s Grand Strategy, and My Former Student, Mao Tse-tung. Ch’en also collected the magazine, Free China, which was published by Hu after retreating to Taiwan in 1949, and materials on the China Institute (華美協進社), which Hu helped found.  

Hu Shih’s works on Chinese studies. The two on the right include Hu’s written compliments to Ch’en Shou-yi
Hu Shih’s works on politics and international relations. The one on the right includes Hu’s handwritten notes to Ch’en, wishing Ch’en to share this volume to Ch’en’s younger brother and their common friends

Ch’en also preserved special types of materials, such as cassette tapes and recording tapes of Hu’s speeches and lectures on Chinese literature and domestic political situations. One recording tape recorded Hu’s speech at a dinner during his visit to The Claremont Colleges. In the end, Ch’en collected newspaper clippings on Hu Shih, especially those reports on Hu’s death and contemporary well-known scholars lamenting the death of Hu. Hu recommended Ch’en to teach at the University of Hawaii, thereby introducing Ch’en to the United States. Hu was not only Ch’en’s lifetime friend and colleague, but also Ch’en’s faithful comrade in the publicity of Chinese culture and liberalism. 

Upper left: Hu’s book with his handwritten compliments to Ch’en and his wife; Bottom left: Eulogy published on a Chinese magazine in memory of Hu Shih; Middle: American reports on newly appointed ambassador Hu Shih; Right: Hu Shih’s handwritten manuscripts
Left: telegraph from Hu to Ch’en, on his visit to Los Angeles; Right: photo of Ch’en (right), Hu (middle) and Kiang Yi Sheng (left)

From Harvey Mudd to Outer Space

Hi everyone,

Recently, I discovered a binder containing information about Harvey Mudd College alumnus, George “Pinky” Nelson. Nelson, class of 1972, was a student in the Bates Aeronautics program at Harvey Mudd. In 1984, he embarked on the STS-41-C Challenger shuttle with James D. Van Hoften, Robert L. Crippen, Terry J. Hart, and Francis R. Scobee. Following this, he was a part of two more missions to space. He is notable for completing a satellite repair while in space.

I found invitations to the space launch in 1984 for Joseph and Jean. Inside the invitations were stickers, pamphlets, instructions for attending the launch, and a pin. Along with this, there were many newspaper clippings about the launch and mission, and also articles about Nelson giving a speech about his flight’s return to Earth after his 1988 flight. Many Harvey Mudd students and faculty attended the Edwards Air Force Base to support Nelson’s return. Nelson greeted them saying, “After every mission, it is comforting to return to California, home of the great Harvey Mudd College” (The Muddraker, 1988). It also appears the Nelsons and the Platt’s also kept in touch over the years, as I discovered family Christmas cards and other personal correspondence.

More next week!


Ch’en Shou-yi’s Collections on Chinese and Japanese Cultures

This week I processed one of two boxes of Ch’en Shou-yi’s personal collections. I must admit that Ch’en’s historical collections in these two boxes should be the most interesting visual items during my processing work. In addition to offprints, notebooks, newspaper clippings, or magazine excerpts, materials from Ch’en’s personal collections, both textual or non-textual, provided visual evidence reflecting Ch’en’s scholarly and research interest.

The box I processed contained two categories. One category included textual materials on Chinese literature, history, and culture. The other category included textual and non-textual materials on Japanese art and religion. For the Chinese collections, I would like to introduce the wood block printed book on Yuan drama, which were popular in the Yuan Dynasty. The Yuan drama in Ch’en’s collection focus on plots and topics such as ancient warrior and generals’ bravery, ancient intellectuals’ romantic love, and the loyalty between emperors and their followers. Some history such as the brotherhood and comradeship between Liu Bei (劉備, 161-223 AD), the founding emperor of the Shu Han (蜀漢, 221-263 AD) Kingdom, and his generals, Guan Yu (關羽, ?-220 AD) and Zhang Fei (張飛, ?-221 AD), were adapted into various Chinese art forms due to the dramatic and legendary ending. Novels, paintings, manga, and even video games often chose this history to show that historical era. The Yuan drama in Ch’en’s collection I highlight below is titled “Yuan drama on Guan Yu’s bravery during a diplomatic mission,” and included two episodes that provide a good way to understand this Chinese cultural icon. In addition, ancient Chinese bank notes and imperial currency are also attractive because they are symbols of ancient Chinese finance. Although Ch’en himself did not specialize in the history of Chinese economics, he taught excellent students who contributed to this field such as the historian Han-Sheng Chuan (全漢昇). The bank notes and currency bills in Ch’en’s collection might help readers to understand the development of financial industry in ancient China.

Yuan drama on Guan Yu’s bravery during a diplomatic mission
Left: Two pieces of Imperial currency issued by Qing government; Middle: Rubbing of Yuan
dynasty imperial currency; Right: Two commercial bank bills

As for Japanese collections, Ch’en collected a lot of religious items from Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Buddhism and Shinto were traditional Japanese religions, and Japanese people would often visit temples and shrines to pray for charms. The wooden and paper charms in this box were from different temples and shrines in Japan, and they recorded people’s wishes for various things such as traffic safety, fortune, family health, and peace and prosperity. In addition, this collection included other related religious items such as Suzunoo (鈴緒), a Japanese bell belt on cloth used for Shinto rituals. Ch’en also collected a lot of postcards and photos on Chinese and Japanese religious culture, and I will introduce these in the future.

Left: Four Japanese paper charms from different Shinto shrines; Right: Three Japanese wooden
charms from Shinto shrines
Several Japanese paper charms from different Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples

Platt Oral History

Hi everyone,

I apologize for not having a blog post for last week. I was out sick. For this post, I can update you on what I’ve been working on the previous two weeks.

I have had a massive pile of miscellaneous folders at the edge of my desk that has haunted me for some time. I finally resolved to take this on, and I am happy to say that 1. It was not as stressful as I thought it would be 2. I am almost finished with this!

Since I have been primarily working on the Harvey Mudd Documents recently, seeing more biographical material from this part of Platt’s collection was fun. I found more of his songs, correspondence between colleagues and friends, invitations to banquets, and other writings by Platt.

I came across a Claremont Graduate School Oral History project from 1975, titled “Harvey Mudd College Oral History Project on the Atomic Age.” Joseph Platt was interviewed by Enid H. Douglas, Director of the Oral History Program at CGS, and John B. Rae, Professor of History at Harvey Mudd College. In the interview, Platt spoke about his experience working in the war labs during World War II, his involvement at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, and his thoughts on nuclear weapons at the time. He revealed, “I confess that I really didn’t want to get into the nuclear weapons business either… reasons that I now think were rather more aesthetic than moral reasons. But I was not too keen on having the first large-scale demonstration of nuclear energy turn out to be used for military purposes” (10). He went on to say, “nobody knew at the time whether it was possible to build a sustained chain reaction either for military or civilian purposes. You could only guess.” (11). He goes on to discuss his interactions with J. Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Teller. Throughout the interview, Platt expressed honest, and sometimes harsh, opinions about the Manhattan Project and the civilian devastation that followed for the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From a physicists point of view, it was a groundbreaking moment, yet from a civilian point of view, it brings a different sentiment. Yet, Platt was much more optimistic about the possibilities of using nuclear energy as a power source for the country.

More next week!


Ch’en Shou-yi and The Development of Chinese Studies in the Western United States 

In the past weeks we have introduced Ch’en Shou-yi’s academic circle with various global scholars, Ch’en’s academic contributions to Sino-US communication, and Ch’en’s successful education for the new generation American scholars on Asian studies. This week we would like to focus on Ch’en’s contributions to the development of Chinese studies on the West Coast of the United States, especially in California, by introducing different types of materials.  

Generally, Ch’en’s contributions to the Chinese studies in the Western United States was a combined result from Ch’en’s long-term efforts and support from academic institutions and Rockefeller Foundation. First of all, the Rockefeller Foundation offered financial support to Ch’en’s Asian studies. Ch’en’s capability and hardworking nature won the Rockefeller Foundation’s admiration, which hoped Ch’en could stay in the US longer to complete more work on Asian studies. As we have introduced, in 1937, Ch’en went back to China but was stuck in Shanghai due to the breakout of the war. Therefore, Ch’en returned to the US and continued to the development of Asian studies with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation. Second, last week we presented Pomona College’s 5th president, Dr. Charles K. Edmunds, who provided administrative support to Ch’en and the founding of the Asian studies program at Pomona College. When Ch’en was teaching at the University of Hawaii, Ch’en maintained correspondence with contemporary scholars like John K. Fairbank, to discuss education on East Asian studies in the US. At Pomona College, Ch’en focused not only on education for his students and academic works for the society, but also collections for Asian studies. Ch’en was involved in securing the Todd Collection of Chinese bronzes to Pomona College. Also, due to the deep relationship between the faculty members in Lingnan University and Pomona College, Ch’en, as an alumnus, played an important role in collecting materials related to Lingnan University such as Dr. Edmunds’ slides, and facilitated the book procurement from China and Japan for the Oriental Library, the predecessor of Asian Library at the Honnold Library. In the end, Ch’en participated actively in various activities to present China to the American public. Newspapers, radios, and television programs became Ch’en’s stage to enlighten the public. In addition, Ch’en invited global scholars to give seminars in California. Apart from paper-based collections, Ch’en’s collection also preserves recording tapes of Hu Shih’s speech at the Claremont Colleges. 

Ch’en left valuable legacy for the Asian studies in the Western United States. On the one hand, the Asian Library with its collections of rare books Ch’en donated or help to obtain, and the Department of Asian Languages and Literatures that Ch’en helped founded, became visible heritage. On the other hand, Ch’en’s passion for education and research with students and scholars, and his sense of duty for Asian cultures became invisible heritage for us to continue the development of Asian studies in the Western United States.  

Left: Local newspaper reported Ch’en’s new book; Middle: Ch’en’s lecture on TV series; Right: Ch’en’s lecture at a seminar in California
Left: Letter from John K. Fairbank to Ch’en on teaching Chinese history and language in the US, enclosed a syllabus; Middle: Ch’en’s typed invitation draft to Dutch historian J. J. L. Duyvendak; Right: J. J. L. Duyvendak’s visit to the US
Left: Letter from Rockefeller Foundation to Ch’en; Middle: Memo by Ch’en and Claremont College Library on book purchases for the Oriental Library; Right: Plague, in memory of Ch’en’s contributions to The Claremont Colleges and Honnold Library