Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Chen Gongbo Papers, 1925-2003, bulk 1930-1946

Summary Information


This collection includes original correspondence, reproductions, printed materials, and biographical information relating Chinese nationalist politician Chen Gongbo (Chen Gong-Bo, Chen Kung-Po, Ch'en Kung-Po, 陳公博).

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1866
Bib ID 12917575 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Chen, Gongbo, 1892-1946
Title Chen Gongbo Papers, 1925-2003, bulk 1930-1946
Physical Description 1 linear foot (2 manuscript boxes)
Language(s) English , Chinese .
Access You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



The materials are arranged into two series.



The Chen Gongbo Papers include original correspondence, reproductions, printed materials, and biographical information, collected and organized by his son Kan Chen. The collection details his academic study at Columbia (1923-1924), his governmental work, and his detainment, trial, and execution. The latter includes letters written to Chiang Kai-chek while Chen Gongbo was awaiting trial and execution. More personal materials include the manuscript of his five volume memoir"Bitter Smile" poetry, and material relating to his wife.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Chen Gongbo Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Materials

Two additional copies of the CD-ROM disk are held by the Starr East Asian Library ( DS777.488.C484 A2 2003a ).


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Source of acquisition--Manuscript of "Bitter Smile" donated to Columbia by his widow, Li-cheong Chen (Shun Mi Chen). Date of acquisition--1967.

Source of acquisition--Remainder of collection donated in by his son, Kan Chen. Date of acquisition--2003.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers Processed 02/18/2018 by Kevin Schlottmann

"Bitter Smile" manuscript and "The Communist Movement in China" pamphlet removed from the general Author's Manuscript Collection and added to this collection (Box 2, Folders 4-6) kws 02/18/2018.

Two copies of a CD-ROM disk, containing a slide show of selected digitized documents from the collection in JPEG format, and bundled with a viewer software called FlipAlbum, removed to the born-digital collection. Arranged and described in 2003 by Kan Chen, Chen Gongbo's son. This finding aid is based on his description.

Revision Description

2018-02-26 xml document instance created by Kevin Schlottmann

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Memoirs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Personal papers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Chen, Gongbo, 1892-1946 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chiang, Kai-shek, 1887-1975 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poetry Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Politicians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Statesmen -- China -- Biography Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zhongguo guo min dang Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Chen Gongbo (Chen Gong-Bo, Chen Kung-Po, Ch'en Kung-Po, 陳公博) was born October 19, 1892 (sometimes incorrectly given as 1890). He studied at Peking National University, graduating in 1920. After a brief period as a journalist, he came to New York and studied at Columbia (1923-1924). His Master's degree thesis was titled "The Communist Movement in China." A Chinese politician with an extensive resumé both in and outside of government, Chen Gongbo was a founding member of the Chinese Communist Party, but left the CCP to join the leftist faction of the Kuomintang and became a close associate of Wang Jingwei and a vocal critic of Chiang Kai-shek from the mid-1920s onward. He served minister of industry (1932-35) and was a leader in the Japanese-sponsored government in Nanking (1940-1945), serving as the president of the Legislative Yuan, the Mayor of Shanghai, and the member of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee. Even though Chen did not agree with the Peace Movement and opposed the Sino-Japanese Basic Relations Treaty, Wang's separation from the Kuomintang and establishment of the Nanjing Nationalist Government, Chen remained with Wang for both pragmatic and personal reasons. After Wang's death in Japan in 1944, Chen became the second and final premier and chairman of the Nationalist Government. In 1946, he was declared a hanjian (traitor to China) and executed by firing squad in June 1946.

For more information, see the Ch'en Kung-Po entry in the Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (New York:Columbia University Press, 1967)

All external visitors, including alumni, must meet the University's primary COVID-19 vaccination series mandate and are required to adhere to the University's COVID-19 policies . After clicking 'Submit Request', users will login with their UNI and password (Columbia affiliates) or their special collections account (external users). Appointments are required and will be arranged according to each individual repository's policy.

Series I: Personal Papers

Box 1 Folder 1 Introduction, 2003

Box 1 Folder 2 Chronology, 1942-1970

Chronology of Chen Gong-bo's life drafted by Zlion Hua-ren in 1970. It was included as Appendix 1 in Bitter Smile: Chen Gong-bo's Memoir of 1925-1936, published by Hong Kong University in 1978. Includes copy of photo of Chen Gong-Bo circa 1942.

Box 1 Folder 4 Correspondence, 1925-1937

Includes photocopies. See detailed description in box 1, folder 1.

Box 1 Folder 5 Industry Minister, 1930s-2000

Includes photocopies. Includes manuscript preface to Chen Gong-bo's 4-year industrialization plan from the 1930s.

Box 1 Folder 6 European Mission, 1937-1940

Includes photocopies.

Box 1 Folder 8 Peace Movement, 1930s-1967

Includes photocopies

Box 1 Folder 9 Detainment, 1946

Box 1 Folder 10 Court Case, 1946, 1973

Box 1 Folder 11 Court Case, 1946

Box 2 Folder 1 Rescue Attempts, 1946

Box 2 Folder 2 Poems, 1940s

Box 2 Folder 3 Spouse, 1942-1974

Series II: Writings

Box 2 Folder 5 Bitter Smile manuscript, Volumes 1-2, 1939

Box 2 Folder 6 Bitter Smile manuscript, Volumes 3-5, 1939

Box 1 Folder 7 Bitter Smile commentary and apparatus, 1939-1984

Box 1 Folder 3 Communist Party (Columbia Thesis), 1960-1983

Three items related to Chen Gong-bo's 1924 master thesis on the early Chinese Communist Movement, which was re-discovered by Professor Martin Wilbur in the Columbia University in the late 1950s. Includes a press release with Professor Wilbur's evaluation of the significance of the document, as well as the English translation of Chen Gong-bo's memoir about his relationship with the Chinese Communist Party, including its foundation and Chen's separation from the Party. The translation was done by Jeffrey Hui Chen Efiil, the 2nd grandson of Chen Gong- bo, as a master thesis project at the University of Michigan in 1983.

Box 2 Folder 4 "The Communist Movement in China", 1960

Printed by Columbia University East Asian Institute. Includes introductory essay by Martin Wilbur as well as Chen Gong-Bo's 1924 Master's Thesis.