The Chinese codebooks were essential tools for encoding and decoding confidential messages in the age of telegraphic communication under the Chinese Nationalist governance. Messages exchanged between high level officials were often encoded to prevent information leaks. Unlike the codes in English, one might wonder how the Chinese encoded telegrams as its writing system is entirely logographic.
During the processing of the Li Zongren papers and the Wellington Koo papers, Chinese telegraphic code books were found in the collections. Since these individuals were prominent statesmen during the Republic of China period, one would be curious to know how were these codebooks utilized by and how these codebooks are different compared to other telegraphic codebooks.
Processing collections and creating finding aids according to updated archival standards gives RBML archivists the opportunity to discover anew our collections. In this post, Processing Archivist Yingwen Huangreflects on creating a new finding aid for the heavily used Wellington Koo Papers. Wellington Koo, a graduate of Columbia and a prominent statesman and diplomat from China, played a major role in positioning China in the 20th Century international political scene. Koo used this papers as the basis for his extensive (10,000+ pages!) oral history interview held in RBML’s Oral History Archives.
“I hope this record will contribute in some small way to a mutual understanding between East and West, and to an understanding of history.” – Speech on the presentation of the Koo oral history to Columbia University, May 28, 1976
At the age of 31, Koo was the youngest delegate in the Chinese Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference. He was the key figure in speaking on the behalf of China in the direct restitution of Shandong province during the conference. He later went on to serve as the Chinese Ambassador to France, England, the United States, while representing China at the League of Nations and contributing to the founding of the United Nations.
Decoration by the Pope at the Vatican, 1939 March 12, Box 263 Folder 11.
Wellington Koo with Queen Mary at Buckingham Palace, June 1946, Box 264 Folder 11.
Wellington Koo with Edward Stettinus at Washington D.C. to attend the Dumbarton Oaks Conference, 1944 August 28, Box 264 Folder 4.
If you’re enjoying PBS’ Women, War and Peace series, stop in to the RBML for our current exhibit, Remaking the World. The exhibit explores Columbia University’s connections to the 1919 Peace Conference. To be specific, the exhibit explores the role of men deemed significant to The Paris Peace Conference, also known as the Versailles Peace Conference.