Dr. Tsuen-hsuin Tsien was born on January 11, 1910 in Taizhou, Jiangsu province, China from a family of scholars. After spending a year in the Army in 1927, he studied at the Nanjing University, 1928-1932, majoring in history. After graduation, he served as Assistant Librarian of the National Jiaotong University in Shanghai, 1932-37 and Head of Nanjing and Shanghai Offices of the National Library of Beiping, 1937-1947. In 1941, just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he undertook the secret assignment of shipping 30,000 volumes of Chinese rare books to the US Library of Congress for safekeeping and microfilming. For this extremely difficult but successful task, he was cited with a Distinguished Service Award from the Chinese Government in 1943 and again from the National Library of China in 1999.
Dr. Tsien joined the University of Chicago in 1947 and received his MA in 1952 and PhD degree in 1957. He was Curator of its East Asian Library, 1949-1978, and Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Graduate Library School, 1964-1979. After retirement, he was named Professor Emeritus in the Department and the Graduate Library School as well as Curator Emeritus of the East Asian Library.
Professor Tsien has published 10 books and over 100 articles, including now the classic Written on Bamboo and Silk (Chicago, 1962; rev. ed., 2002; with editions in Chinese, Hong Kong, 1978; Beijing, 1982; Taipei, 1996; Shanghai, 2002; in Japanese, 1980; in Korean, 1990 & 1999); Paper and Printing, in the Science and Civilization in China series, (Cambridge, 1985; 3rd ed., 1987; Chinese ed., Beijing & Shanghai, 1990; Taipei, 1992); China: a Bibliography of Bibliographies (Boston, 1978); Studies on the History of the Chinese Book, Paper and Printing (in Chinese; Hong Kong, 1992; Beijing, 2002)); Chinese-American Cultural Relations (in Chinese, Taipei, 1996), and an invited article in the UNESCO Courier , published in 15 different languages in 1972.
Professor Tsien has served in various capacities in national and international associations and was the recipient of many grants and awards. Since 1983, he is a Fellow of the Needham Research Institute in Cambridge, England and President, China Publications Service, Inc., Chicago. In recognition of his distinguished achievements, his name is now in the City of Chicago’s Senior Citizens Hall of Fame and a Festschrift in honor of his 80th birthday was published in Beijing and Taipei. (Adapted from International Who’s Who of Intellectuals, l3th ed.)