Celebrating Hu Shih


One hundred years ago, one of Cornell’s most famous alumni graduated with the Class of 1914.

He went on to become the leader of China’s new culture movement (1919), the Chinese ambassador to the United States (1938-42), the chancellor of Peking University (1946-48) and  president of the Academia Sinica (1957-62).

Among his many accomplishments, Hu laid the foundation for Cornell 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 monthlong journey across the ocean.

More than a century later, the Wason Collection comprises more than 600,000 items, including hundreds of thousands of books in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other languages. It will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2018.