Academic journal article
By Goodrich, Thomas D.
The Journal of the American Oriental Society , Vol. 113, No. 4
IN 1926 L. CARRINGTON GOODRICH began at Columbia University his graduate studies in Chinese history and soon joined the American Oriental Society. For the next sixty years he was a member of the Society and he promoted the study of Chinese history and the scholarly profession in a variety of ways.(1) This article is but an indication of one of the ways, concentrating on his research and publications spanning six decades.(2)
His interests in Chinese history were widespread, and it is difficult to note areas in which he did not involve himself, either directly or through his colleagues and students. While he did no research in the very early eras, for example, he was fascinated with archaeology in China. I recall my personal pleasure in pulling the paper tab to open the weekly Illustrated London News, which he received at home and which provided him the most recent reports of much in the field of archaeology. (We probably received it at home so that his wife could review news of Biblical archaeology, the kids could look at the pictures, and he could keep up with cricket, which he had played at his British boarding school in Cheefoo, Shantung Province.) For about thirty years after the Communist assumption of power, he was not interested in returning to China, but when in 1981 a tour of the new digs of old archaeological sites was announced, aged 86, he signed up right away, and he and his wife went off for his final trip to the land of his birth and the burial place of his parents and other members of his family. It was a very successful trip. His three best known works(3) span his career and are indicative of his interests and abilities in that they are so different in purpose and type. The Literary Inquisition of Ch'ien-lung (1935) resulted from his dissertation, and John Fairbank wrote that it "alone made him the risen star of American China studies, and there was much more to come over the next forty years"(4) (actually over fifty years). A Short History of the Chinese People (1943) originally was conceived to be one of a set of three short histories: India, Japan, and China. His was the only one completed, and it is dedicated to Robert K. Reischauer--"first American casualty in the Second World War"--who was to have written the book on Japan but was killed in Shanghai during a Japanese air raid. At its publication Hu Shih called it "the best history of China ever published in any European language."(5) For many students and other readers in the United States and elsewhere it was their first introduction to Chinese history, and it remained in print for about a quarter of a century. The third major work, The Ming Biographical Dictionary, will be a primary reference for much longer than a quarter century. Goodrich not only helped to initiate this project and raised money for it, he also edited the work meticulously and wrote many of the articles himself (and also rewrote many of the other contributions). The Institut de France's Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres granted the book the Stanislas Julien Award as the best publication in Sinology for 1976; this pleased him very much.(6)
Gathering and sharing information were important to Prof. Goodrich. Research and the ensuing articles and books were one approach, another was writing reviews in which he would put forth information not otherwise easily available, and yet another was writing letters to authors, students, and friends raising issues, adding or correcting specifics, even correcting spelling.(7) During the Depression of the 1930s with its very tight budget restraints, he was able to help make the East Asian Library at Columbia University one of the leading sinological collections in the United States, and it was fitting that his office as chairman of the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies, shared with C. C. Wang, was connected to the wonderful space in Low Library that then housed the library. In addition he had a small study high in Butler Library that allowed him more quiet than was possible in the chairman's office or at home (until his children grew up). …