News & Events

July 2008 Wason Update

Vol. 2 No. 7, July 31, 2008

New Endowment

In honor of the Wason Collection’s 90th anniversary, Cornell University Library has assigned a new endowment, the Bennett Endowment, to the Wason Collection. This endowment is designated for purchasing materials on the History of Science in East Asia.

China through Western Eyes - Part 9: The Addis and Geller Collections from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London

The Wason Collection has recently secured China through Western Eyes - Part 9: The Addis and Geller Collections from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

The Addis Collection contains 63 volumes of Charles Stewart Addis’ diary (1881-1945, 10 reels). Charles Stewart Addis (1861-1945) was born in Edinburgh. He joined the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) in 1880. In 1883 he was posted to Singapore, and then to the HSBC Head Office in Hong Kong. When he was posted in Beijing as Acting Agent in 1886, he became one of the first Western bankers to reside there. During this time, he was invited to write for the Chinese Times by its editor, Alexander Michie, and began his experience as a writer. He continued to work for HSBC in Tianjin (1889), Shanghai (1889-1891), Calcutta (1891), Rangoon (1892), and Hankou (1896). In 1905, he was appointed to the HSBC London Office as Junior Manager and also to the Board of Directors of the British and Chinese Corporation and the Chinese Central Railways. In 1911 he was promoted to the position of Senior Manager. In 1912, he began his work to bring competing national banking syndicates together to form the Six Power China Consortium, transforming the policy of competition for loans to one of co-operation. The height of the Consortium's success came in 1913 when it issued a Reorganization Loan to Yuan Shih-Kai's Republican Government, which played an important role in sustaining Yuan’s government. The British Government awarded Addis's efforts with a knighthood in that year. In 1920, he served on the War Relief and China Famine Relief Committees, and visited New York to organize the Second China Consortium, which included banking groups from the USA, France, Japan and Great Britain. He was awarded a K.C.M.G. in 1921. That year he retired as London Manager of the HSBC, but continued his position as Manager of the British Group of the China Consortium and Director on the Boards of the British and Chinese Corporation and the Chinese Central Railways. In 1922, he was appointed Chairman of the London Committee of the HSBC. In 1925, he served as a member of the China Advisory Committee and Boxer Indemnity. In 1930 he was appointed Vice-Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements, and also attended meetings of the Cabinet Economic Advisory Sub-Committee on China. He retired from the HSBC London Committee in 1933. In 1944 he resigned as Manager of the British Group of the China Consortium and from directorships of the British and Chinese Corporation and Chinese Central Railways. During his lifetime he kept a detailed diary, which is now published for the first time and is a fascinating addition to the Wason Collection.

The Geller Collection contains 16 volume diaries (1901-1934, 4 reels) of Wilson Herbert Geller and Mabel Love Geller. Wilson Herbert Geller (1868-1949) was born in Thaxted, Essex, in 1868. In 1897, he was appointed to Siaokan in Central China as a Lay Evangelist for the London Missionary Society. In 1901 he married Mabel Love Neal, also of the London Missionary Society (she had been appointed to Canton in 1897), at Union Church in Hong Kong. Wilson Herbert Geller’s work was mainly pastoral and evangelistic and he practiced in a large country district comprising about 25 churches. He played a central part in the production of a Chinese hymnbook, and composed many of the tunes. He also planned and built Siaokan Church. Mabel Love Geller’s chief work in China was building up a Bible school for women, as well as taking part in general work for women and girls at Siaokan Mission. Their diaries document their life and work as missionaries in China. There are descriptions of the voyage out; visits to Hankou and other cities; ‘lantern’ lectures; preachers’ meetings; evangelizing to Mandarin women; the Hankow rebellion; Red Cross work; the abdication of the Emperor; a visit to Peking; school work; and every day life in the mission field.

Japan through Western Eyes - Parts 9 and 10

The Wason Collection is pleased to announce that we have been able to acquire the most recently issued segments, Parts 9 and 10, of Japan Through Western Eyes, a comprehensive microfilm set encompassing early writings of foreigners in Japan.  This series may be familiar to those of us at Cornell, as Parts 2-5 cover the writings of William Elliot Griffis (1843-1928), whose gift of several hundred Japanese books and maps to Cornell was its first substantial acquisition in Asian languages.  

Part 9 covers the writings of Dr. Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866), who in 1823 made the first of his first journeys to Deshima—the small island off the coast of Nagasaki, which functioned as the only site for foreign trade during the Tokugawa Period (1615-1868).  Sielbold took a keen interest in the social and natural history of Japan, and through a network of Japanese friends, collected material avidly.  In return, he taught the Japanese western medicine, being one of the first to introduce this subject matter in detail in Japan, where the principles of Chinese medicine were paramount.  The ethnographic materials that Sielbold gathered form the basis of the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, while his collection of Japanese manuscripts was divided between the Ruhr-Universitat Bochum and the British Library.  This segment includes materials on Japanese music, political intrigues, foreign relations, ancient tales and songs, etc. as well as a detailed history of Nagasaki.

Part 10 covers the British Library’s manuscript holdings in Japanese, primarily based on the diverse collection gathered by Sielbold and his son.  These cover such topics as the laws of Japan; stratagems for war; geography; magic and religion and flora and fauna.  There are also portraits of Japanese figures, material on sword smithing and tea ceremony, and descriptions of the various sites in Japan.

The Wason Collection’s holdings of Japan Through Western Eyes are now full and up to date.