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Guide to the Iris Chang Papers CEMA 39
CEMA 39  
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Legal Status note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Processing Information note
  • Related Archival Materials note
  • Scope Note
  • Series Description

  • Title: Iris Chang Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 39
    Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 33.5 linear feet 67 boxes
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1980-1995
    Date (inclusive): 1923-2002
    Location note: Del Norte. Restricted boxes 63-65 are stored in the vault.

    Biographical/Historical note

    "maybe the best young historian we've got, because she understands that to communicate history, you've got to tell the story in an interesting way." - Stephen Ambrose
    Up until her untimely death in 2004 at the age of 36, Iris Chang was widely considered one of America’s leading Chinese American historians and authors. Chang's first book, Thread of the Silkworm, a study of how Cold-war hysteria influenced American foreign policy, won her instant acclaim. Thread of the Silkworm, is the story of Dr. Tsien Hsue-shen. Born in China, educated at M.I.T. and Cal Tech, who after 15 years of major contribution to American missile technology in research and design, was branded a Communist and deported to China. In China, Tsien went on to advance the Chinese missile program developing the legendary Silkworm missile. Thread of the Silkworm details the imprisonment of Tsien Hsue-shen during the McCarthy era, an event with long lasting repercussions for America’s future.
    Born in Princeton, New Jersey, and growing up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Iris Chang earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois in 1989. In college, she became widely known as the woman who always got the job that everyone wanted. She was published in the New York Times as a college stringer often enough that the New York Times had to discontinue her, lest they appear to favor the news from Illinois. She worked as a reporter for the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune and received her graduate degree in writing from the Johns Hopkins University in 1992.
    Her second book, The Rape of Nanking, was an international bestseller Chang created an in-depth and revealing look at one of the most tragic chapters of World War II. Published by Basic Books in 1997, The Rape of Nanking remained on the New York Times bestseller list for several months, became a New York Times Notable Book, and was cited by Bookman Review Syndicate as one of the best books of 1997. Chang felt herself compelled to write the book after her experience in 1994 at a conference in Cupertino. She wrote of the experience."I walked around in shock, though I had heard so much about the Nanking massacre as a child, nothing prepared me for these pictures, stark black-and-white images of decapitated heads, bellies ripped open and nude women forced by their rapists into various pornographic poses, their faces contorted into unforgettable expressions of agony and shame. In a single blinding moment I recognized the fragility of not just life but the human experience itself."
    Iris Chang's awards include the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation's Program on Peace and International Cooperation Award, the Woman of the Year award from the Organization of Chinese Americans, and two honorary doctorates (the College of Wooster in Ohio, and California State University at Hayward). Chang has been featured on radio, television and in print media, including Nightline, the Jim Lehrer News Hour, Charlie Rose, Good Morning America, C-Span's Book notes, and the front cover of Reader's Digest. She was a tireless speaker, always eager and willing to educate others.

    Conditions Governing Access note


    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Donated by Iris Chang, author on July 2, 1995.

    Legal Status note

    Series I Photographs are restricted and closed to all requestors until the year 2017.

    Preferred Citation note

    Iris Chang Papers Collection, CEMA 39, Department of Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Processing Information note

    Processed by Alexander Hauschild, 2007. Callie Bowdish, 2008. Migrated to EAD by Janet Chen

    Related Archival Materials note

    Researchers may also wish to consult a second collecton, also named Iris Chang Papers, housed in the Hoover Institute located at the Stanford University. Those materials document her research on the history of the Chinese in America, the human rights violations in Nanking (1937-1938) and individual interviews with American military personnel who served in the Pacific during World War II.

    Scope Note

    The Iris Chang Papers consist primarily of her research materials from her work on “Thread of the Silkworm” with a few files which may have been used for “The Rape of Nanking” and “The Chinese in America.” The content is broken down according to Chang’s own notes. Chang was a meticulous researcher and her files are arranged according to subject matter, and labeled according to her own methods. The series consists of 66 boxes and includes photographs and digital image files.

    Series Description

    Series I: Biographical files. 1996-2002. Consists of a half-box of newspaper articles written about Iris Chang, three boxes of photographs from Iris Chang’s life arranged chronologically and an electronic digital image archive of 4,442 image files stored on the CEMA Intranet. These images cover her personal and professional life from 1963-2004, including photographs of her with the subjects of her interviews in China and photographs from her family’s collection. The photographs are closed until the year 2017.
    Series II: Thread of the Silkworm Chapter files, Research Files. Consists of 46 boxes of files collected specifically for research into Thread of the Silkworm. The files were arranged by Iris Chang. Bulk dates for the materials have been recorded. The series contains several sub series. Sub series Tsien Hsue-shen Biographical Research consists of 6 boxes. Series three is made up of six boxes. These boxes contain files pertaining to research into persons and places associated with Tsien Hsue-shen. Sub series Nexus/Lexus Articles and Chinese Articles for Thread of the Silkworm consists of three boxes of articles collected by Chang for her research into thread of the silkworm. One box is in Chinese. Sub series Tsien Hsue-shen Research (Chronological) consists of three boxes of research files arranged chronologically by Chang. Sub series Correspondence (Alphabetized) consists of eleven boxes arranged and labeled by Chang as correspondence, alphabetized. The materials include institutional documents from diverse sources such as the ACLU, C.I.T. and the Eisenhower Library. Sub series Consultants, are two boxes of research from consultants. Sub series Science Files for Tsien Book. This series consists of three boxes of files containing technical research for Thread of the Silkworm.
    Series III:Chinese Nuclear Programs and Proliferation. Consists of five boxes of materials, mostly articles researching proliferation of missile and nuclear technology from China around the world.
    Series IV: McCarthyism and POWs. Consists of 7 boxes of materials focusing on anti-communist materials. This series includes ephemera from a German language book about Nanking as well as several subject files.
    Series V: Oversize. Consists of two boxes containing various files including original news copy and mounted awards given to Iris Chang. Articles are arranged chronologically.
    Series VI: Books Used for Research. This series lists the books chosen by Chang to use during her research. Books can be found on UCSB’s Pegasus catalog, MELVYL or WorldCat.org.