News & Events

September 2008 Wason Update

Vol. 2 No. 9, September 30, 2008

Visit of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Delegation

Arranged by Professor Jian Chen and officially invited by President David Skorton, the Chinese Foreign Ministry delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Qiao Zonghuai and Foreign Ministry Archives Director Zong Chongli, recently visited Cornell University.

Since 2004 the Chinese Foreign Ministry started to declassify its documents but only allowed users to read the documents in its archives' reading room in Beijing. Recently the ministry decided to establish the relationships with a few selected foreign institutes. The Chinese Foreign Ministry Archives would deliver certain declassified documents to these institutes and allow them to keep the documents for research purpose. In the United States, except for the Woodrow  Wilson International  Center for Scholars in Washington,  D.C., Cornell is the only one to enjoy this privilege mainly because of Cornell's China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program and Cold War Project.

During its visit, the Chinese Foreign Ministry delegation presented to Cornell 67 declassified documents from the U.S.- China ambassadorial talks in Geneva in 1955. The U.S.- China ambassadorial talks later moved to Warsaw and continued on and off with a total of 136 meetings for 16 years until President Nixon made his historical visit to China in 1972. The Warsaw talks provided the U.S. and China with an avenue for negotiation and thus prevented two countries from outright conflicts due to any misunderstandings. It served as an important factor in relieving tension in East Asia during the heyday of the Cold War period. As document recipients, Director of the China and Asia-Pacific Studies Program, Professor Jian Chen, and Curator of the Charles W. Wason Collection on East Asia, Dr. Liren Zheng, signed the Handover Certificate in a ceremony.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry delegation also visited Cornell University Library, the Wason Collection, and the Rare and Manuscripts Collection. They showed great interest viewing the historical documents housed in Cornell University Library.

Photo of Qiao Zonghuai visit

Synopsis of Chinese Librarianship Summer Institute

Chinese studies librarians in North  America held a Summer Institute from July 20 to August 1, 2008 at the University of Washington, Seattle.  There were approximately 40 people including instructors from Mainland China and Taiwan at the Institute. Xian Wu from our library attended the Institute. Institute participants went to whole day classes Monday to Friday, focusing on Chinese studies librarianship as well as library management in the electronic environment. Faculty members in different disciplines relating to Asian studies were invited to give presentations on their research and instruction. They also discussed with librarians their expectations of library services to better meet the needs of students and professors in these rapidly changing times. One of the highlights of the Summer Institute was the opportunity it provided for Chinese studies librarians from 28 universities to get together, and freely share information in detail, without reservation. Librarians also worked in small groups on chosen topics. Xian Wu gave a presentation on the Challenges in the Collection of Electronic Resources. The Summer Institute was organized jointly by the Council on East Asian Libraries (CEAL) and the University of Washington.

Photo collage of Washington Summer Institute

Visitors from Japan

Photo of Dr. and Mrs. TsunekawaThe Wason Collection on East Asia and the Cornell University Library had the great honor in early September of hosting a visit from the extended family of the celebrated Japanese scholar Maeda Ai, whose personal book collection, including many rare books from the late Edo and Meiji-Taishō periods, came to Cornell in 1997. Mrs. Fusako Tsunekawa (nee Maeda, Maeda Ai’s sister) and Dr. Seiji Tsunekawa visited Ithaca from September 3-5, and were able to spend a full day in the Cornell library, examining books in the Kroch Rare and Manuscript collection and in the general stacks. Some of the highlights of the books they examined included the original diaries and some early publications of the pioneering Meiji period journalist Narushima Ryūhoku, and a variety of illustrated popular fiction from the late Edo and Meiji periods. For Mrs. Tsunekawa, in particular, certain books from the Maeda Collection brought back special memories, as they had been in the family home from her childhood. A half-dozen faculty members joined to celebrate the Tsunekawas’ visit at a dinner kindly sponsored by the East Asia Program and the Cornell University Library.


Professor Thomas Lyons has recently donated another 23 books to the Wason Collection. We greatly appreciate his invaluable support to the Wason Collection.