Draft, Publish, Repeat

This week I processed more of Platt’s writings, travel files, and some of his documents from the Claremont School of Theology’s Ancient Biblical Manuscript Collection (ABMC). The ABMC files included board meeting notes and minutes, photographs of biblical manuscripts, and newspaper clippings of global events related to Theology.

Last week, I had mentioned Platt’s “Mesonic Atoms” and thought it would be good to share an example of his drafts and final product. These examples are not all from the same chapter, yet they still show Platt’s writing process. As a graduate student, I found his writing methods encouraging. As the semester progresses and due dates approach, drafting is part of my daily routine. In academia, we are all in the same boat of drafting until we are ready to share our work.

Chapter 1 Draft
Chapter 2 Draft
Example of a published chapter

I am currently wrapping up the biography portion of Joseph Platt’s collection, and am ready to dive into the Harvey Mudd College Collection next week!


Ch’en Shou-yi’s Academic Circle via His Collections of Offprints

This week I input two boxes of offprints, booklets, and other academic publications written by Ch’en Shou-yi and other scholars into the online archive. As a scholar who studied the East-West exchange, Ch’en’s collections of academic works covered history, literature, archaeology, religion, and linguistic on China. Most of the academic works were written in English and Chinese, and published from 1870s to 1970s. These offprints and other academic publications crossing one century preserved research values apart from the contents.  

First, according to the publication date, I can imagine scholars in different eras had different research focuses. From 1871 to 1920, most offprints, excerpts, and other academic works were written by Christian intellectuals, who were also priests in China. Christian intellectuals studied Chinese language such as the Mandarin romanization, philosophy such as Confucianism, and Chinese culture and tradition like the festivals, trying to understand China and better introduce Christianity. After the Chinese Civil War in 1949, publications in Taiwan and on Taiwan became prosperous. Many scholars explored the history of Taiwan in diaspora history and global communication, and reviewed the ideologies and revolutions in modern China. Maybe these works reflect the Chinese intellectuals’ focus with the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan.  

Second, if we link many of those authors with Ch’en’s correspondence, which I will post in the future weeks, we can clearly see the friendship between Ch’en and those authors, who are famous modern Chinese intellectuals. I made a rough statistic to recover Ch’en’s academic circle. I have input 196 academic works written by 101 authors. 4 authors stayed in China Mainland such as Luo Changpei (羅常培), one of the founders of Chinese linguistic. 1/3 of the authors including Ch’en Shou-yi came to the United States and became Chinese-American scholars such as Yuen Ren Chao (趙元任), another founder of Chinese linguistic, Chan Wing-tsit (陳榮捷), Ch’en Shou-yi’s alumnae in Lingnan University and colleague in University of Hawaii as well as famous historian, Wu Hsiang-hsiang (吳相湘), historian focusing on biography research, and Tung-Li Yuan (袁同禮), father of Chinese library studies. 1/10 of the authors went to Taiwan, making contributions to the Taiwan colleges and Academia Sinica, including Han-sheng Chuan (全漢昇), historian of the history of Chinese economics, Li Chi (李濟), father of Chinese archaeology, T. F. Tsiang (蔣廷黻), historian and Chinese ambassador in the US, and Yao Ts’ung-wu (姚從吾), historian and Ch’en’s colleague in Peking University. The other global scholars came from the Netherlands, Japan, France, and the United States, contributing insights to Chinese studies.  

In the end, the compliments and comments written by the authors also provided valuable information to recover Ch’en’s academic circle. Ch’en’s younger brother, Stanley H. Chan (陳受康), a law scholar, contributed one article on law. Nine scholars viewed Ch’en as a faithful friend including Chan Wing-tsit (陳榮捷), who sent Ch’en 12 papers. Almost 20 authors were Ch’en’s students, who also maintained correspondence with Ch’en. Wen-Djang Chu (朱文長) in Singapore, Wang Teh-chao (王德昭) in Hong Kong, Laurence G. Thompson (譚維理) in California, were not only outstanding scholars, but also improved Chinese studies teaching after consulting with their teacher, Ch’en.   

Ch’en Shou-yi’s student Wang Teh-chao’s handwritten compliments: “To Shou-yi, my teacher, please correct it. With compliments of Wang Teh-chao, your student. (受頤吾師教正 受業王德昭敬呈).” 
Ch’en’s friend Yuan Tung-li’s handwritten compliments: “To Shou-yi, my brother, please correct it. (受颐吾兄 教正.)” 
Ch’en Shou-yi’s student Laurence G. Thompson’s handwritten compliments: “To Shou-yi, my teacher, please correct it. With compliments of Laurence G. Thompson, your student. (陳老師請指教 弟子 維理.).” 
Ch’en Shou-yi’s friend and colleague, Chan Wing-tsit’s handwritten notes: “To Shou-yi, my brother, Haeger is your colleague, so I think I should send you one copy. With best wishes from H. M. Loh (A Chinese scholar in Japan). Compliments of Wing-tsit. (頤兄,兄既是Haeger同事,弟以爲當寄兄一份。孝明問候。榮捷)” 

Platt Updates

Wrapping up another week! It is so satisfying to organize the folders and watch everything come together. This week, I worked on Platt’s travel files and writings from when he taught at the University of Rochester. Platt traveled all over the world during his time as the president of Harvey Mudd College. From San Francisco to Paris, New York to Taiwan- Joseph Platt was on-the-go quite a bit. I was able to go through plane tickets, travel brochures, photographs of his visits, letters to colleagues all over the world, and more.

Later in the week, I went through the folders from the University of Rochester. I discovered a few chapters of his piece “Mesonic Atoms.” As someone who studies the Humanities, I know absolutely nothing of Physics. Yet, I was impressed by the depth and detail he and his co-authors went into for this project. There are multiple drafts and correspondence with editors to make this project work.

Progress this week!
More to go…

I’m hoping to wrap up the biography portion of Joseph Platt’s Collection soon, and then I will begin to work through the Harvey Mudd series.

More next week!


The Very Model Physics Doctor of Philosophy

More processing! Today I thought I would share an excerpt from one of the songs in the “School Songs” file. It appears to be a parody of the “Major-General’s Song” from the 1879 comic opera The Pirates of Penzance. Platt gives us a glimpse of his sense of humor, while making fun of what it means to be an expert in physics.

I am the very model physics doctor of philosophy.

I don’t know much of X-rays, electronics or spectroscopy.

Though I’ve recently developed a lamentable proclivity

For positions and deuterons and radioactivity.

I’m very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,

I understand equations if they’re simple, not quadratical.

I can solve a wave equation but I realize my need is

For understanding simple laws like that of Archimedes.

I can rattle out Beethoven on a freshman lab sonometer,

But I always burn the coils of a d’Arsonval galvanometer.

In short, outside of X-rays, electronics or spectroscopy,

I am the very model physics doctor of philosophy.

Well, we know Platt was indeed a very intelligent physicist, contrary to the satirical lyrics. This serves as a reminder to not take life too seriously.

More next week!


A New Journey at The Asian Library

Hello everybody! I have been processing the documents of Prof. Ch’en Shou-yi for three semesters, and I am looking forward to continuing processing this semester. Before posting my findings during the process, I wish to briefly introduce myself. My name is Yuda Li and I am a Chinese Ph.D. student at the Department of History at Claremont Graduate University. I got my B. A. in Economics from the Central University of Finance and Economics in Beijing, China, and my MPA from Florida State University in Tallahassee, U.S. This is my second year in history doctoral program with a concentration in Chinese immigrants in the 19th and 20th century. Prof. Ch’en, a Chinese exile in the U.S., enriched the materials for Chinese immigration studies.  

After two semesters of preliminary processing, I have been familiar with Prof. Ch’en Shou-yi (or Ch’ên Shou-yi/ Shau Yi Chan, Chinese: 陳受頤, 1899-1978), who was born in Canton Province, China. Prof. Ch’en was skilled at history, Chinese and English literature, and cultural studies. Prof. Ch’en taught at Lingnan University, Peking University, The University of Hawaii, and Pomona College, making groundbreaking contributions to the comparative cultural studies of modern China and the historical studies of Sino-Western cultural exchange. Furthermore, Prof. Ch’en maintained lifelong friendships with Chinese contemporary top intellectuals such as liberalist historian and writer Hu Shih (胡適), historian Fu Ssu-nien (傅斯年), famous writer Lin Yutang (林語堂), the father of Chinese library studies T. L. Yuan (袁同禮), and other creative scholars who made revolutionary contributions to modern China. However, unlike his well-known friends who were written into Chinese textbooks, Prof. Ch’en has been forgotten by modern Chinese people.  

Photo of Ch’en Shouyi (Right), Hu Shih (Middle), and Lin Yutang (Left)
Photo of Ch’en Shouyi (Right), Hu Shih (Middle), and Lin Yutang (Left) 

Why must we study Prof. Ch’en? On the one hand, Prof. Ch’en established a bridge for Chinese to learn the West represented by Western Europe and the U.S., and for American students to learn the Oriental culture. This contribution should not be forgotten or hidden. On the other hand, Prof. Ch’en experienced the most chaotic century of China that was full of revolutions, war, fires, and numerous political movements. Prof. Ch’en faithfully recorded an oversea scholar’s perspective of the changes of modern China. We can always see Ch’en’s struggle for academic freedom and spiritual independence during the WWII, the Chinese Civil War, and the political movements in both Mainland China and Taiwan. 

Until next time,


A New Start

Week 2 was a blast! I have begun processing the Platt collection, and was able to go through 3 of the boxes. Many of the documents I looked at were photographs and slides showing the construction of Harvey Mudd College. It was a real treat seeing a plot of land transform into the college that stands today. It also really makes you think of how proud Joseph Platt must have felt seeing this as it was happening.

To accompany these photographs, I read through many letters of congratulations for Platt’s new appointment to Harvey Mudd. Although many of his colleagues from the University of Rochester were sad to see him leave their institution, they were confident in his abilities to bring his intellect, wisdom, and guitar skills to the West coast. The Board of Trustees at Harvey Mudd College felt the same way. A new and challenging opportunity for Platt, but he was up to the task. In his job acceptance letter, he writes ” I am convinced Harvey Mudd College will make a contribution far beyond its size to the life of the local and national community; in short, as we realize this vision Harvey Mudd College will continue and help to expand the tradition of the Claremont Colleges.”

First Building of Harvey Mudd College. Photo taken in April 1957.
Construction of Harvey Mudd College. Photo taken in April 1957.

What else does the collection have in store? We will find out more next week!


Let’s Begin!

Hello everyone, I am looking forward to processing the documents of the incredible Joseph B. Platt this semester. Before I begin, I wanted to share a little about myself. My name is Nicole Blue, and I am a Masters student at Claremont Graduate University. In December 2021, I graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Humanities and a minor in Music. Currently, I am in my second semester in the History and Archival Studies program, with a concentration in Museum Studies.

This week has been more of an introduction as I familiarize myself with the contents of this collection. Who was Joseph Platt? I began by surveying the boxes I will process this semester. While digging through the biography portion of the collection, I was struck by all of the contents. There are photographs from his travels to Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, details of his involvements in countless diverse organizations, songs and poetry, and stunning Christmas cards. I cannot wait to discover more about him.

A few boxes relating to the biography of Joseph Platt.

Not only was he incredibly accomplished, he was deeply admired and respected by his friends, family, colleagues, and community. He, along with his wife Jean, served with dignity, dedication, and love. This is mirrored through some of the ephemera I found while surveying the boxes. A binder, titled “Sticks in the Mudd” stood out, as it includes poems and dedications to both the Platts and Harvey Mudd College after 15 successful years. It also includes farewell poems to Joseph and Jean, due to Josephs departure from HMC in 1976 to go serve as the President of the Claremont University Center. I will include photographs below.

“Stick in the Mudds” 1973. A dedication to Joseph and Jean Platt by the original staff of Harvey Mudd College.
A toast to Joseph and Jean Platt, written on a piece of “toast” 1976.

More next week!