Columbia University opens papers of Chang Hsueh-liang and Edith Chao Chang

The papers and oral history of Peter Hsueh-liang Chang housed at Columbia University are open to the public. The public opening was celebrated with an intimate gathering attended by the friends and family of Peter H.L. Chang, Asian Studies scholars and Columbia Library officials on June 3rd.

Peter H.L. Chang and Edith Chao Chang

Wrote Lauren Marshall, the material in the Peter H. L. Chang and Edith C. Chang Research Collection includes some 5,000 items, most in Chinese, and spans more than 50 years of the Changs' lives -- from 1937, the year after the capture of Chiang Kai-shek, until 1999. It includes letters to and from important political and military leaders, publications, clippings, notes, unpublished poems, essays and diaries, and an extensive oral history of Chang, the longest in Columbia's Oral History collections, that has not been available to scholars until now. Chang, who died last year at the age of 100, left his papers and those of his wife, Edith, to Columbia in 1995.

His correspondence files in the collection measure approximately two linear feet. Major correspondents include President Chiang Kai-shek, Mme. Chiang Kai-shek, T.V. Soong, H.H. K'ung, William Donal and many others. A special album of significant correspondence, prepared by Marshal Chang himself, has been preserved in its original form. Mme. Chang's papers include correspondence with Mme. Chiang Kai-shek and with her personal teacher, Mrs. Paul Trinum.

The papers were opened to scholars on June 5th. There is a public gallery with only 10 items on display. The rest of the materials are for use by scholars by appointment only and are not visible to the general public. A Chinese-speaking curator will be available to assist non-English speakers on Fridays and by special arrangement. Proposals for publication projects will be considered after September 2002.

Chang Hsueh-liang, also known as "Young Marshall", was born June 3 in the province of Liaoning, son of Marshall Chang Tso-ling. Chang Huseh-liang succeeded his father when he was 27 in control of Manchuria. Young Marshall played a historical role with General Yang Hu-cheng in kidnaping Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek in Xian on December 12, 1936 to forced him to collaborate with the Communists against Japanese invasion. Chiang agreed and was released unharmed. Chang escorted Chiang back to Nanking and was arrested. General Yang Hu-cheng was later assassinated. After the Communists defeated the Nationalists, the Nationalist government evacuated to Taiwan and took Chang under house arrest. In 1991 and 1992, he visited twice his children in the United States. He settled down in Hawaii in 1994. He died on October 21.

According to Dr. Tong, General Change avoided to discuss the Xian incident. Chang said that neither Kiang Kai-Shek nor Zhou En-Lai talked about Xian. Madame Mei-ling Soong has not said either. Chang did not elaborate. Chang never regretted the Xian incident, but he said that he did not anticipate the result of earlier outbreak of Sino-Japanese war resulting in tremendous suffering of Chinese people.

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