On July 14, 2017, WEAI faculty member Lydia H. Liu, the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities and Director of Columbia University’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, will take part in Columbia Global Centers I East Asia – Beijing’s special symposium and exhibition surrounding the first public release of V.K. Wellington Koo‘s archive of personal papers.
V. K. Wellington Koo (1887–1985), who earned his BA from Columbia College in 1908 and his PhD from Columbia in 1912, played a major role in expanding China’s relationships with the West. Founder of the modern Chinese foreign service, he was instrumental in negotiating the end of the “unequal treaties,” a series of agreements China had signed with Western powers under threat of force in the mid-nineteenth century. He was China’s delegate to the Paris peace conference of 1919, and served as acting prime minister from 1926 to 1927. Koo held the posts of ambassador to France, Great Britain, and, for ten years, the United States—he was the youngest ranking diplomat to come to the United States. Koo is also credited with China’s participation in founding the United Nations, serving as his country’s signatory of the UN charter. He further extended his international role in the last phase of his career, when he served as judge and vice president of the International Court of Justice at The Hague from 1957 to 1967.
The exhibition and symposium, supported by the Institute of Modern History of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Columbia University Libraries, celebrates the completion of the first phase of the joint digitization project of V. K. Wellington Koo Archive. The special exhibition, titled “Wellington Koo and Anti-Japanese War/Second Sino-Japanese War: Commemorating the 80th Anniversary for the Outbreak of the War,” will unveil selected digital images of Koo’s archive of personal papers. This will be the first time materials from the 300 boxes of papers & documents from Wellington Koo’s personal archives covering his years as China’s diplomat have been seen publicly. The exhibition will give special focus to materials related to the period 1937-45 and the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War/Anti-Japanese War.
In addition to Professor Liu, symposium participants will include Jianlang Wang, Director of Institute of Modern History (IMH), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Yilin Jin, Deputy Director of IMH; Shirley Young, Koo’s step-daughter and Juliana Young Koo’s daughter; David Koo, Koo’s grandson; Ann Thornton, Vice Provost and Columbia University Librarian; Sean Quimby, Director of Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML) , Columbia University Libraries; Jim Cheng, Director of C.V. Starr East Asian Library, Columbia University; Guangyao Jin, Professor at History Department, Fudan University; and Zhongjun Hou, Associate Researcher of IMH.
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