Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Hu Shih Diaries, 1892-1935

Summary Information


The Hu Shih diaries comprises six microfilm reels of diaries by Hu Shih, a Chinese philosopher, essayist, educator, scholar, and diplomat of the 20th century. Materials include in the collection are Hu Shih's diaries, which contain correspondence, news clippings, lecture notes, letters dating from 1921 to 1935, as well as the writings of Hu Shih's father, Hu Chuan, who was a civil official of the Qing Imperial Court.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1950
Bib ID 13527751 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Hu, Shi, 1891-1962; Hu, Chuan, 1841-1895
Title Hu Shih Diaries, 1892-1935
Physical Description 6 Reels
Language(s) 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.



Arranged in original order.


Content Description

The Hu Shih diaries contain 6 microfilm reels of selected pages from Hu Shih's diaries, which include correspondence, notes, writings, dating from 1921 to 1935, as well as the papers of Hu Shih's father, Hu Chuan, related his political career as an official of the Qing Imperial Court. Materials in the Hu Chuan papers include his original writings, survey reports during his time as an official in Taiwan from 1892 to 1895 prior to the First Sino-Japanese war, a memorial tribute among other writings. The Hu Shih diaries contains his daily written entries of his life, and correspondence, letters, news clippings he collected. His diaries also include reading notes, travel notes, and lecture notes, as well as his writings relating to China Foundation, redology, cultural movements, political thoughts, literary reviews, etc.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Conditions Governing 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.

Conditions Governing Use

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); Hu Shih diaries; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Material

Chinese oral history project collection, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University. Finding Aid. This collection contains administrative information related to the project, including the interviewee files relating to Hu Shih's interviews.

Hu Shih papers at Cornell University, #41-5-2578. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library. Web page.

Reminiscences of Hu Shih, 胡適口述回憶錄

Hu Shih archive at the Hu Shih Memorial Hall, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Home page.


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

Gift of Tsu-Wang Hu, 1980

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Separated from the Chinese oral history project collection due to the papers' historical and research value and to allow better discovery and access. Finding aid created by Yingwen Huang, September 2018. Container list derived from an index created by Hu Shih's oral history interviewer, Te-Kong Tong.

Revision Description

2018-09-30 File created.

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:"
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lecture notes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Letters (correspondence) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notes (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Beijing da xue Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Buddhism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cai, Yuanpei, 1868-1940 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chiang, Monlin, 1886-1964 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chinese language -- Study and teaching (Higher) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chinese literature -- Philosophy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dewey, John, 1859-1952 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Education, Higher -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Language and culture -- China Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Philosophy, Chinese -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Writing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Hu Chuan (Chinese: 胡傳; original name: Hu Shan, 胡珊; courtesy name: Tiehua, 鐵花; alias: Dunfu, 鈍夫) was born in Anhui province, 1841. He was a scholar and an official of the Qing Imperial Court. He came from a tea merchant family in Huizhou. During his youth, he studied excessively while helping out with his family's business. In 1881, he traveled alone to the Northeastern region of China and was later involved in politics. He assumed civil positions in Guangdong, Hainan, Zhengzhou, and Jiangsu. In 1890, He returned to his hometown and married Feng Shundi (馮順弟), who was 17 years old at the time. The following year, the Chinese philosopher and scholar, Hu Shih, was born. In 1892, Hu was appointed the chief commissioner to Taiwan where he oversaw all cultural and military affairs. He stayed in Taiwan for three years until the First Sino-Japanese War broke out in 1894 during which Taiwan was ceded to Japan. He later died in Xiamen, at the age of 55.

Hu Shih (pinyin: Hu, Shi; Wade Giles: Hu, Shih; Traditional Chinese: 胡適; Simplified Chinese: 胡适; original name: Hongxing, 洪騂; courtesy name: Shizhi, 適之) was born in Shanghai, 1891. In 1910, he began studying abroad at Cornell University, and received his BA in philosophy and literature in 1914. He later attended Columbia University and studied philosophy under Professor John Dewey. Hu Shih soon became Dewey's translator and helped with his 1919-1921 lecture in China. He later devote his life to the advocacy for pragmatic changes. After returning to China, Hu became the one of the leaders during the May Fourth Movement and the New Culture Movement. He was the main advocate for the use of written vernacular Chinese in contrast to the obsolete classical Chinese. He also made contribution to redology (the study of a classical novel, the Dream of the Red Chamber). From 1938 to 1942, he was an ambassador to the U.S. He served as the chancellor of Peking University between 1946 and 1948. In 1957, he served as the president of the Academia Sinica. He died in Taipei, 1962 at the age of 70.

External users and Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at RBML. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only Columbia affiliates may view materials on-site at Avery, Starr, and Burke. 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.

Hu Shih Diaries/胡適日記

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 1 Hu Chuan papers/胡傳文件, 1892, undated

Files include Hu Chuan's writings during his appointment as the Chief Commissioner to Taiwan where he oversaw all cultural and military affairs. Materials include his writings related to his family history as field notes related to Taiwan during the late Qing dynasty.

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 1 1928 March-December/1928年3月至12月

A large amount of correspondence and clippings concerning the reorganization of the China Foundation. Among others, there are correspondence from Jiang Menglin and Cai Yuanpei.

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 2 1922 February-October; 1926 August-September (European Diary)/1922年2月至10月; 1926年8月至9月(歐洲日記)

The majority of the entries are concerned with his scholarly writings such as his essays on the Red Chamber and Chinese literature the Past 50 Years as well as notes on his extensive reading. He also indicate the content of his lectures at the University. The European Diary entries are of particular interest because they contain the notes as well as reproduction of Dunhuang Buddhist manuscripts.

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 3 April-December, 1923; January, 1924; July-August, 1926; June 1927; April-November, 1921/1923年4月至12月; 1924年1月; 1926年7月至8月; 1927年6月; 1921年4月至11月

He was reading extensively in western literature in 1923 and carried on remarkably large correspondence. For 1926, he has considerable notes on his trip to Europe - through Russia and Poland; there are interesting details from his London visit. 1928 relates his return to China. For 1921, the entries are concerned with his scholarly work, readings in Wang Yangming; works on Tai Tung-yuan; Hong Lou Meng, and his association with John Dewey. For September 1921 he notes the content of his lectures at the Peking University.

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 4 May-July 1928; January-December, 1929; January-August, 1930/1928年5月至7月; 1929年1月至12月; 1930年1月至8月

The months for 1928 and early 1929 continue to have materials on the problem of the China foundation. For 1929 and 1930, there are a very large number of clippings from a variety of newspaper (unfortunately, many of these are neither labeled nor dated) concerning the controversial essays which Hu wrote criticizing the Kuomintang government and Sun Yat-sen's thought. A noteworthy contrast can be seen in the generally unfavorable Chinese press and the favorable English language press. For 1930, there are a number of clippings criticizing his statements on Chinese culture.

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 5 August-December, 1930; January-September, November, 1931; March, September, December, 1933; January-September, 1934/1930年8月至12月; 1931年1月至9月,11月; 1933年3月,9月,12月; 1934年1月至9月

For October 1930, there is a detailed and fascinating account of his journey to Peking, people he saw, conversations, and lecture. For 1931, he gives an excellent picture of his increasing involvement in the Peking University affairs. The Japanese occupation of Manchuria received considerable attention. His contacts with foreign scholars, journalist, and other westerners who resided in or traveled through Peking between 1931 and 1934 are impressive. Hu seems to have known practically everybody of note.

Microfilm Reel COHP Hu Shih 6 Oct., Dec. 1934; Jan., April-July, Dec. 1935; Jan.-Feb., May 1927; Aug.-Dec 1926; Jan.-Feb. 1925; Jan.-Feb., Nov.-Dec. 1932; June-July, Oct. 1933/1934年10月,12月; 1935年1月,4至7月,12月; 1927年1至2月,5月; 1926年8至12月; 1925年1至2月; 1932年1至2月,11至12月; 1933年6至7月,10月

This reel is extremely disorganized and entire sections are photographed twice. For 1935, there is much material concerning the North China crisis. His detailed account of the December 9th movement and student disturbances as well as his own activities are of particular interest, as are the clippings from various newspapers concerning the December events. Entries for 1926 and 1927 tell of his work in the Bibliotheque Nationale and British museum. However, Hu was definitely not a hermit; he led an extremely active social life; saw all the important tourist attractions; went to plays and concerts, and went on a lecture tour in Britain. His reading materials in Europe reflect his catholic interest. There is a Dewey letter to Hu dated September 30, 1926. Entries concerning his visit to Columbia in 1927 and the lectures which he gave are particularly interesting. Hu has notes for some of the lectures. At the end of the reel are miscellaneous materials on current events and his reading. Most seem to be undated except for two which are dated April 22, 1940 and June 21, 1940 respectively.