Hu Shih and Cornell University Library

Huh Shih Portrait Hu Shih graduated from Cornell in 1914 and went on to become the lead­er of China’s new culture movement (1919), the Chinese ambassador to the United States (1938-1942), the chancel­lor of Peking University (1946-1948), and the president of the Academia Si­nica (1957-1962).

Among his many accomplishments, Hu laid the foundation for the Cornell University Library’s Chinese collection - and the subsequent creation of the library’s celebrated Charles W. Wason Collection. In 1911, along with several other Chinese students, Hu donated about 350 classic Chinese books to the library - books they had brought from their homes on the month-long journey across the ocean. More than a century later, the Wason Collection comprises more than 700,000 items, including hundreds of thousands of books in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other languages. The original list of books and correspondence from Hu regarding the donation can be found in the Cornell University Library miscellaneous correspondence collection (#13-1-501).

Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections holds original archival materials related to Hu Shih and his life and work. Please see below for information on our collections related to Hu Shih, including links to digitized documents.

Hu Shih papers at Cornell University (#41-5-2578):

This collection of materials was created to bring together and preserve the documentation that now exists on Hu Shih (Cornell University Class of 1914) in the Cornell University Library. It includes writings of Hu Shih, including copies of several versions (1911, 1962), some with handwritten corrections, of a biographical sketch of Ezra Cornell, written in Chinese in 1911 and first published in 1915; "The Philosophy of Browning and Confucianism" (21 page typescript carbon), an essay which he wrote while at Cornell and read (1915) before the Browning Society of Boston; "Intellectual Preparedness" (9 page mimeo), his address at the Union College Commencement exercises (1940); his statement before the Plenary Meeting of the Twelfth Regular Session (1957) of the General Assembly of the United Nations (9 page mimeo); and a letter (1955) and two notes from Hu Shih to Elmer Eugene Barker (Cornell University Class of 1910), his friend of more than fifty years. Also, items which concern him, including "Hu Shih, Incurable Optimist" (19 page typescript), Barker's personal recollections of Hu Shih's intellectual development; photographs relating to his life at Cornell and later; a printed bibliography (1963) of Hu Shih's unpublished manuscripts in Chinese, compiled by Hsu Kao-Yuan; and articles and newspaper clippings. Also, first-day cover with Hu Shih commemorative stamp, issued in Taipei in 1990.

Beginning with the original Hu Shih Collection (#41-5-219), we added his correspondence with Woodford Patterson (#6-2-2168) and other friends from his Cornell years, and parts of the Deane W. Malott Papers (3-6-65), the Lincoln Patterson Scrapbooks (#37-6-334), the Cosmopolitan Club Records (#37-4-145), the Alumni Office Records (#41-2-877), and several other items collected individually over the years.

Digitized collection (original on microfilm) [PDF]

Finding aid for collection

Lincoln E. Patterson Foreign Students at Cornell University scrapbooks

Lincoln E. Patterson, his wife, and a niece, Wenora Williams, kept scrapbooks on foreign students (mostly Chinese, but also Icelandic, Indian, Hindustani, and Filipino) whom they knew at Cornell University. The Pattersons were active in introducing foreign students into American domestic life; these foreign students, after leaving Cornell, often wrote to the Pattersons from their home lands. Scrapbooks include correspondence, clippings, photographs of groups of Chinese students, and some formal writing of the foreign students. Includes material for Lan-Ko Chang, C. L. Chien, Paul C. Fugh, S. C. Hsueh, P. C. King, H. S. Lee, K. S. Lee, Hu Shih, Chien Yang, Y. C. Yang, Louis Yen, and H. C Zen (Chinese students); S. N. Bose, Bapi Needu, H. H. Pandya, and S. J. Theodore (Hindustani and Indian students); Richard Beck (Icelandic student); and Manuel A. Gonzalez (Filipino student). Scrapbooks also include material concerning the Cosmopolitan Club and the Chinese Students' Club of Cornell University.

Scrapbook 1 [PDF]

Scrapbook 2 [PDF]

Scrapbook 3 [PDF]

Additional Resources: