Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Zhaohao Wu letters, 1923-1929

Summary Information


The Zhaohao Wu letters mainly consist of twenty-eight handwritten letters from Zhaohao Wu and others in Germany and in Moscow to his younger brother Zhaofa Wu in the U.S. between 1923 and 1929. Zhaohao Wu wrote extensively to his brother about his understanding and enthusiasm in the socialist movement, his opinions on Chinese politics, and his life abroad as an international student. One additional letter from Liang Qichao to his son-in-law, Chou Kuo Hsien about the establishment of the Songpo Library in 1918 was later added to the collection.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1397
Bib ID 4079507 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Wu, Zhaohao ; Petrashevskaya, Irene ; Liang, Qichao ; Zhang, Chunming
Title Zhaohao Wu letters, 1923-1929
Physical Description 0.25 Linear Feet (1 manuscript box)
Language(s) Chinese , English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



Arranged alphabetically by last names and then in chronological order.



The Zhaohao Wu letters contain twenty-eight handwritten letters sent between 1923 and 1929 from Zhaohao Wu, Irene Petrashevskaya, Jay Lovestone , Zhijun Xing (邢之楨), and Chunming Zhang (張純明), to Zhaofa Wu, who was at the time studying biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The letters from Zhaohao Wu were written during his studies in Germany at the University of Göttingen from 1923 to 1925 and in Moscow at the Sun Yat-Sen University from 1925 to 1929. The letters reflected the life of a Chinese international student during the socialist revolutionary fervor in Germany and in the Soviet Union. Zhaohao Wu also wrote excessively about his perspective of socialism, anti-imperialism, Chinese student movements, Chinese politics, the Comintern, and his relation to other early oversea Communist party members. One additional letter from Liang Qichao (梁啟超), a Chinese scholar to his son-in-law, Chou Kuo Hsien (周國賢), to solicit contribution from oversea Chinese for the establishment of the Songpo Library in 1918, is also included in the letters.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

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); Zhao-hao Wu letters; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Related Materials

Wu Zhaofa Historical Files, Beijing Normal University Archive.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Catalogued by Christina Hilton Fenn in September 1989. Collection name was changed from "Chan-han Wu letters" to "Zhao-hao Wu letters" and processed in 2018 by Yingwen Huang.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2018-09-14 EAD finding aid updated.

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:"
Communism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Communist International Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Germany -- Description and travel Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Moscow (Russia) -- Social life and customs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Soviet Union -- Politics and government -- 1917-1936 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zhaofa Wu Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zhongguo gong chan dang Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note


Zhaohao Wu (pinyin: Wu, Zhaohao, Wu, Zhaogao; Wade Giles: Wu, Chao-hao; traditional Chinese: 武兆鎬; simplified Chinese: 武兆镐; also known as D. H. Wu, Peter Petrashevskaya; Wu, Chan-han, Wu, Juexian, 吳覺先, 吴觉先; and Wu, Jianxi, 武劍西, 武剑西) was born in Gongyi, Henan province, 1899. He attended Henan Overseas Preparatory School (later known as Henan University) in 1913, with a concentration in German. In 1918, he studied civil engineering at the Shanghai Tongji Medical and Engineering College (later known as Tongji University). With sponsorship from the Henan Department of Education, he began studying mathematics and philosophy in Germany at the University of Göttingen in 1923. During his time in Germany, he was exposed to European literature and Marxism and later became zealous in the worldwide Communist movement. In 1925, he departed for Moscow and studied at the Sun Yat-sen University. He later worked for the Comintern in Moscow and he was also a member of the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party held in Moscow, 1928.

Zhaohao Wu met Irene Petrashevskaya (1908-?) in 1924 while he was studying abroad in Germany. Irene was a member of the Red Women and Girls' League in Weimar Germany. While he was in Moscow, he introduced Irene Petrashevskaya as his companion in his letters to his younger brother, Zhaofa Wu, who was at the time studying biology in the U.S. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1927, Irene began her study at Moscow Sun Yat-Sen University with Zhaohao and later also worked for the Comintern. Zhaohao Wu returned to China in 1929 and began working at the Comintern's newly established Far East Division in Shanghai the very next year. In 1935, he mobilized a mass student protest against Japanese aggression in Beiping, which was known as the December 9th Movement. After 1940, he became a professor at the Northeastern University in China, Wuhan University, and later the Deputy Director of the Ministry of Higher Education, the Editor-in-Chief of the Commercial Press, the High Education Press, and the first President and the Editor-in-Chief of the People's Education Press. He was also the first to translate many socialist philosophical works from German into Chinese.

Zhaohao Wu's younger brother, Zhaofa Wu (pinyin: Wu, Zhaofa; Wade Giles: Wu, Chao-fa, Wu, C.F.; traditional Chinese: 武兆發; simplified Chinese: 武兆发; courtesy name: Jixu, 季許), is the recipient of the letters in this collection. Zhaofa was born in 1904. He attended Henan Overseas Preparatory School in 1917, with a concentration in English. Like his brother, he received sponsorship from the Henan Department of Education and studied biology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1923 and received his doctoral degree in 1929. After he returned to China, he was a biology Professor at various universities in China. He was also the Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Journal of Biology. During the Anti-Rightist Campaign in 1957, he was falsely classified as a "rightist" and was publicly persecuted and humiliated to the point of committing suicide.