The Peter H.L. Chang [Zhang Xueliang] and Edith Chao Chang Papers Open at The Rare Book and Manuscript Library


(June 1, 2002) Columbia University's Rare Book & Manuscript Library opens the papers of Peter H.L. Chang (1901-2001) (Zhang Xueliang, Chang Hsueh-liang) and his wife Edith Chao Chang (Zhang Zhao Yi-di, Chang Chao Yi-di) on June 1, 2002. The collection covers the Changs' lives from 1937, the year after the Xian incident, until 1999. They were donated to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1995 and, according to the donor agreement, open for public access on Marshal Chang's birthday in June 2002.

The papers, which join the papers of other important figures in Chinese political history held by Columbia, comprise some 20 linear feet of documents, published materials, correspondence, photographs and miscellaneous materials from the life of Peter Chang and his wife Edith Chao Chang.

There is also an extensive oral history of Mr. Chang begun in Taiwan in 1991 and completed in 1993. The transcription, written in traditional Chinese characters, is 4,800 pages in length. A comprehensive index of the interview will be available in July 2002. A second, shorter interview with Mr. Chang, conducted in 1990 by Columbia University, will also open to the public in June 2002.

Scholarly access to the materials begins on June 5, 2002 and is by appointment only. Contact the Rare Book & Manuscript Library to schedule an appointment at (212) 854-5590. A Chinese-speaking curator will be available to assist non-English speakers on Fridays and by special arrangement. Proposals for publication projects will be considered after September 2002.

Information about the collection, access procedures, finding aid and indexes, and related collections will be on Columbia's LibraryWeb beginning June 3 at: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/rmbl.

The Finding Aid for the papers is at: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/libraries/indiv/rare/guides/Chang/.

During Marshal Chang's fifty-year incarceration, he corresponded with many of the most important political and military leaders of the era. The correspondence files in the collection measure approximately two linear feet. Major correspondents include President Chiang Kai-shek, Mme. Chiang Kai-shek, T.V. Soong, H.H. K'ung, William Donald and many others. A special album of significant correspondence, prepared by Marshal Chang himself, has been preserved in its original form. Mme. Chang's papers include correspondence with Mme. Chiang Kai-shek and with her personal teacher, Mrs. Paul Trinum.

Of equal interest for the forty years following his arrest are the numerous diaries and appointment books in the collection. The years covered by the multi-year diaries (1937-1990) overlap those described in the single year diaries (1937-1961). The appointment book entries extend from 1959-1975.

In addition to publications, clipping files (dating back to 1937), notes and study aids relating to the Changs' study of the Bible, the English language and various other topics, and religious testimonies, the collection contains manuscripts of unpublished poems, essays on topics ranging from literary criticism to religion, and notes for Marshal Chang's translation of "They Met at Calvary."

Among the works of art donated to the Changs and included in the collection are paintings by Ching-kuo Chiang [Chiang Ching-kuo], Mei Ling Soong Chiang, and Dai Chien Chang [Chang Ta-ch'ien]. A large collection of photographs, both loose and in albums, date back to 1937 (although most are from the later decades). Videos in the collection depict the Changs in their last years.

An important figure in 20th century Chinese history, Chang (also known as the "Young Marshal") played a major role in the creation of the modern Chinese state after the fall of the Qing dynasty, and ruled Manchuria prior to the Japanese invasion of China and World War II.

Despite his earlier political achievements, he is best known, perhaps, for his role in the 1936 Xian Incident in which Chiang Kai-shek was asked to establish a united front between Nationalist and Communist forces to oppose the Japanese invasion of China. As punishment for his role in this event, Chang was placed under house arrest for more than 50 years, first in China and later in Taiwan before the Nationalist government moved to that island. During this period, he studied contemporary history and theology, and developed a number of hobbies, including photography.

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library, located on the 6th Floor East of the Columbia University Butler Library, at 535 West 114th Street at Broadway, New York, is home to over 600,000 rare books, 28 million manuscripts filed in 3,000 separate collections, 75,000 photographs, and 40,000 prints and drawings. In addition to printed and manuscript resources, the library contains cuneiform tablets, papyri, maps, works of art, posters, sound recordings and other interesting objects and materials.

The Columbia University Oral History Research Office is the oldest and largest university-based oral history program open to the public in the world. Founded in 1948 by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Allan Nevins, the oral history collection now contains nearly 8,000 taped memoirs, and nearly 1,000,000 pages of transcript. Over 2,000 scholars a year consult the interviews from the oral history collection archived at Columbia University. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/indiv/oral/

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written: 05/31/02 KRS