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Historical records of Southwest Associated University

Author  :  FENG YUEJIAN     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2018-06-21


Zheng Tianting’s Diary in the Days of Southwest Associated University

Proofreading: Yu Guolin

Publisher: Zhonghua Book Company


On March 17, Nankai University and the Zhonghua Book Company jointly sponsored a press conference for the new issue of Zheng Tianting’s remnant works. Zheng Tianting (1899-1981), a former professor of Peking University, was the dean of general affairs at the Southwest Associated University. Xu Jun, General Manager of Zhonghua Book Company, said this diary of Zheng “has left us with precious historical records of the Southwest Associated University and the social panorama at that time.” It is also a faithful record of the spirit of scholarship.

At present, the historical materials of the Southwest Associated University include archives, writings of the university faculty members and students, newspapers and periodicals, and a small number of diaries and memoirs. Naturally, these historical materials have their own advantages and characteristics. However, for the history of Southwest Associated University, Zheng’s diary has irreplaceable value compared with other historical materials. 

For instance, Zheng was appointed the dean of general affairs of the university in 1940. From the moment he officially took office on Feb 26 to the dissolution of the university in 1946, when Peking University, Tsinghua University, and Nankai University were reopened, Zheng was involved in a large number of schools affairs. He kept a detailed diary in the teaching, school affairs, staffing, relationship between the three universities, and external relationship with other schools.

Some of the records included content of meetings. For example, at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Aug 28, 1940, Mei Yiqi (1889-1962), former president of Tsinghua University and the chairman of the standing committee of school board, “wanted to resign from the position of chairman of the committee and hoped to promote the executive institution as he indicated to the regent,” due to the faculties’ “dissatisfaction with the members of the standing committee” and other “criticism.” Some works included professors’ opinions on school affairs and politics. From this, we can see various interests and ideological concerns. For example, the professors’ meeting on May 21, 1942, the diary of the day recorded the different opinions of Zhou Binglin, Yang Zhensheng, Cui Shuqin and many others gathered for the teaching qualifications review. 

There are not many diaries written by faculty members of the Southwest Associated University published. The most detailed is Wumi’s Diary, but even though it has more than a million written characters, Wu did not participate in the school affairs and thus did not record much about school-level affairs. Mei’s diary is now only found to have recorded the days between January 1941 to October 1946, with many intervals and very brief notes. In contrast, Zheng lived in a single dormitory and many masters and students visited him on a daily basis. He recorded a lot of thoughts and behaviors of the teachers and students. At present, research on the Southwest Associated University still focuses on its teaching and research achievements and the spirit of the school. There are still a lot of research aspects to be discovered with Zheng’s diary as the firsthand material.


(Edited and translated by SUI JINGJING) 








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