Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991

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John King Fairbank (1907-1991) was Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Director of the East Asian Research Center at Harvard.

From the description of Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991 (inclusive), 1947-1991 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 76973292

John King Fairbank (1907-1991) was a a leading scholar in modern and contemporary China studies. Fairbank was the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History at Harvard University and Director of its East Asian Research Center. He was married to Wilma Cannon Fairbank, the author of numerous scholarly books on Chinese archeology and architecture.

From the description of Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 228506794

From the description of Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77719610

Far Eastern specialist.

From the description of Reminiscences of John King Fairbank : oral history, 1970. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122440944

John King Fairbank (1907-1991) was a a leading scholar in modern and contemporary China studies. Fairbank was the Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History at Harvard Univeristy and Director of its East Asian Research Center, which was later renamed the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research in his honor. He was married to Wilma Cannon Fairbank, the author of numerous scholarly books on Chinese archeology and architecture.

John King Fairbank was born in Huron, South Dakota. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy, he spent two years at the University of Wisconsin, then transferred to Harvard, where he completed his undergraduate studies (A.B., 1929). A Rhodes Scholar, he attended Oxford University and pursued a growing interest in Chinese history.

From 1932 to 1936, he and his wife Wilma Cannon Fairbank lived in Peiping (now Beijing). They learned Chinese, traveled extensively, and worked on their respective research projects. His topic was the foreign relations of the Qing dynasty . Her subjects were Chinese art and architecture .

After the completion of his doctorate in 1936, Fairbank returned to the United States and a position in Harvard's History Department. His academic career was interrupted by service during World War II. He served in the Office of Strategic Services and in the Office of War Information. He spent two years in China, first as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador, then as Director of the United States Information Service.

Resuming his academic career after the war, he returned to Harvard, where he embarked on an active program of teaching and research and he began to establish himself as a leading interpreter of China to the American public. At first his scholarship was an extension of his doctoral research; it focussed on China's relations with the West in the 19th century. Increasingly he joined with collaborators in compiling bibliographies and research guides to assist fellow scholars in their work.

Politics briefly inconvenienced Fairbank's academic career. Partly because of his growing prominence, he was singled out in the McCarthy era as one of the Asia scholars and State Department officials responsible for the "loss of China" to the communists . He emerged relatively unscathed from his confrontation with the McCarran Committee, but he was forced to delay for one year a sabbatical in Japan (1951-1952) while the Military Review Board investigated his political affiliations.

Fairbank's influence on East Asian studies was considerable. During his career, Fairbank trained a generation of China specialists, played a key role in building the infrastructure of East Asian area studies, and published texts that introduced China to a broad readership. He undertook ambitious tasks of synthesis in the writing of general histories that could serve as texts for introductory courses in East Asian civilization. His major works include: The United States and China, 1948, Trade and Diplomacy on the China Coast, 1953, and East Asia: Tradition and Transformation, 1973. He also served as editor of the monumental Cambridge History of China, and collaborated on three volumes about Sir Robert Hart, Inspector General of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service.

Fairbank's professional commitments and obligations grew apace with his academic responsibilities and scholarly achievements. At Harvard, he became Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History in 1959. From 1955-1973 he served as director of the East Asian Research Center, a total of 18 years. From 1973 to 1977, he was chairman of the Council on East Asian Studies . He served on the committees of numerous associations dedicated to fostering a richer knowledge of East Asia. He was trustee of the Institute of Pacific Relations from 1946 to 1956, he became president of the Association for Asian Studies in 1959, and he became president of the American Historical Association in 1968. Fairbank received numerous honorary degrees, including ones from Swarthmore, Harvard, the University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins. In 1986 he received the Harvard Medal for service to the university.

John King Fairbank died September 14, 1991 at the age of 84, two days after delivering his final manuscript to the Harvard Press. Wilma Fairbank died April 4, 2002 at the age of 92.

From the guide to the Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991, (Harvard University Archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Fuller, Lon L. Lon L. Fuller papers. 1926-1977. Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991 (inclusive), 1947-1991 (bulk). Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Owen Lattimore Papers, 1907-1997, (bulk 1950-1989) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Lattimore, Owen, 1900-1989. Owen Lattimore papers, 1907-1997 (bulk 1950-1989). Library of Congress
referencedIn Pruitt, Ida. Papers, 1850s-1992 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence, 1881-1981 (inclusive), 1940-1979 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. Archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, 1882-1974 (inclusive) [microform]. Yake University Divinity School Library
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966. William Ernest Hocking Papers, 1860-1979 Houghton Library
referencedIn Harvard Law School Forums Records Harvard Law School Library Langdell Hall Cambridge, MA 02138
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Lyman Hoover Papers, 1900-1977 Yake University Divinity School Library
creatorOf Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Cannon family. Papers, 1887-1980 (inclusive), 1917-1945 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Alsop, Joseph, 1910-1989. Papers of Joseph and Stewart Alsop, 1699-1989 (bulk 1937-1989). Library of Congress
referencedIn Erik H. and Joan M. Erikson papers, 1925-1985 (inclusive) 1960-1980 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Michael, Franz H. Franz H. Michael papers, 1948-1964 (bulk 1948-1964). ND Univ of Washington Libraries (OCLC Worldshare ILL Beta)
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991. Harvard University, Archives
referencedIn Stanford University Press archival book copies, 1900-2012 Cecil H. Green Library. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn American Historical Association. Records of the American Historical Association, 1884-1985. Library of Congress
referencedIn Papers of Ida Pruitt, 1850s-1992 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Boxer mss., 1923-1975 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Papers of Ida Pruitt, 1850s-1992 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Joseph Alsop and Stewart Alsop Papers, 1699-1989, (bulk 1937-1989) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Woodbridge Bingham Papers, 1876-1986 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Papers of Helen Boyden Lamb, 1937-1975 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Chinese future and the United States [sound recording] / John King Fairbank. Sarah Lawrence College, Esther Raushenbush Library
referencedIn Jordan, W. K. (Wilbur Kitchener), 1902-. Records of the President of Radcliffe College, 1943-1960 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Knight Biggerstaff papers, 1923-2000, 1944-1961 (bulk). Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn John S. Service papers, 1925-1999 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Syllabus of a course on the history of Far Eastern civilization : presented under the program of general education, 1947-1948. Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Papers of John K. Fairbank, 1933-1991. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Harvard University. East Asian Research Center. Records of the East Asian Research Center, ca. 1955-1983 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Chinese Maritime Customs Service : miscellaneous papers. Harvard University, Harvard-Yenching Library
referencedIn Purcell, Beth Busser, 1912-. Papers, 1967-1984 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn George Edward Taylor papers, 1932-1999 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Harvard University Archives Photograph Collection: Portraits, ca. 1852-ca. 2004 Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Wright, Arthur Frederick, 1913-. Arthur Frederick and Mary Clabaugh Wright papers, 1932-1977 (inclusive), 1951-1977 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Franz H. Michael papers, 1948-1984, 1948-1964 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Roger J. Sandlands miscellaneous papers, 1941-1994 Hoover Institution Archives
creatorOf Sandilands, Roger J. (Roger James), 1945-. Roger J. Sandilands miscellaneous papers, 1941-1994. Stanford University, Hoover Institution Library
referencedIn Arthur Frederick and Mary Clabaugh Wright papers, 1928-1982, 1951-1977 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia records, 1882-1974 (inclusive). Yake University Divinity School Library
referencedIn John S. Service papers, 1925-1999 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Fairbank, John King, 1907-1991. Reminiscences of John King Fairbank : oral history, 1970. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Hoover, Lyman, 1901-. Lyman Hoover papers, 1900-1977 (inclusive). Yake University Divinity School Library
referencedIn Taylor, George Edward, 1905-2000. George Edward Taylor papers, 1932-1999. University of Washington Libraries
referencedIn Brown & Haley Lecture Series, 1953-2012 University of Puget Sound Archives
referencedIn China War Reporting Conference (1982 : Scottsdale, Ariz.). Records, 1982. Arizona State University Libraries
referencedIn Archives of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, 1882-1977 Yake University Divinity School Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agnes Smedley person
associatedWith Alsop, Joseph, 1910-1989. person
associatedWith Alsop, Joseph W. (Joseph Wright), 1876-1953 person
associatedWith Alsop, Stewart. Joseph Alsop and Stewart Alsop papers. 1699-1989 person
associatedWith American Historical Association. corporateBody
associatedWith American Historical Association. Committee on American-East Asian Relations. corporateBody
associatedWith American Historical Association. Committee on American-East Asian Relations. corporateBody
associatedWith American Historical Association. Committee on American-East Asian Relations. corporateBody
associatedWith Association for Asian Studies. corporateBody
associatedWith B. Forest Hall person
associatedWith Biggerstaff, Knight, 1906- person
correspondedWith Bingham, Woodbridge. person
associatedWith Boxer, C. R. (Charles Ralph), 1904- person
associatedWith Bruner, Katherine person
associatedWith Cannon family. family
associatedWith China War Reporting Conference (1982 : Scottsdale, Ariz.) corporateBody
associatedWith Committee for a Democratic Far Eastern Policy corporateBody
associatedWith Committee on American-East Asian Relations corporateBody
associatedWith Council on East Asian Studies corporateBody
associatedWith Denis Twitchett. person
associatedWith East Asian Research Center (EARC) corporateBody
correspondedWith Erikson, Erik H. (Erik Homburger), 1902-1994 person
associatedWith Ernest May. person
associatedWith Fuller, Lon L., 1902- person
associatedWith Gerald Bunker person
associatedWith Hart, Robert, Sir, 1835-1911. person
associatedWith Harvard College (1780- ). General Education Program. corporateBody
correspondedWith Harvard Law School Forum corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. East Asian Research Center. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard-Yenching Library corporateBody
associatedWith Helen Boyden Lamb person
associatedWith Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Hoover, Lyman, 1901- person
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Institute of Pacific Relations. corporateBody
associatedWith Japan Institute corporateBody
associatedWith John King Fairbank. person
associatedWith John Paton Davies, Jr. person
associatedWith John Stewart Service person
associatedWith Jordan, W. K. (Wilbur Kitchener), 1902- person
correspondedWith Lattimore, Owen, 1900-1989. person
associatedWith L. K. Little person
associatedWith Matheson, Elizabeth person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith May, Ernest R. person
associatedWith McCarran Committee corporateBody
associatedWith Michael, Franz H. person
associatedWith Michael, Franz H. person
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Pruitt, Ida. person
associatedWith Purcell, Beth Busser, 1912- person
associatedWith Reischauer, Edwin O. (Edwin Oldfather), 1910- 1910- person
associatedWith Sandilands, Roger J. (Roger James) person
associatedWith Sandilands, Roger J. (Roger James), 1945- person
associatedWith Sarah Lawrence College. corporateBody
associatedWith Senator Joseph McCarthy person
associatedWith Service, John S. (John Stewart), 1909-1999. person
associatedWith Smith, Richard person
associatedWith Stanford University. Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Taylor, George Edward, 1905-2000. person
associatedWith Un-American Activities Committee corporateBody
associatedWith United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. corporateBody
associatedWith Wendell Furry person
associatedWith William Lancelot Holland person
associatedWith William McGovern person
correspondedWith Wilma Fairbank's person
associatedWith Wright, Arthur Frederick, 1913- person
associatedWith Yu, Frederick T. C., 1921-, person
Place Name Admin Code Country
China
United States
China
China
United States
United States
United States
Subject
Negotiation
International relations
Sinologists
Arbitration (International law)
China
Communism
Sinologists--Interviews
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1907-05-24

Death 1991-09-14

Americans

English

Information

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