Saturday, October 23, 2010

Two Letters from “Home” to Kang Tongbi Studying in America, Spring 1905

Kang Tongbi was Kang Youwei's second daughter who came to the United States in 1903 to study and travel throughout North America on behalf of the Baohuanghui.  Thanks to Ray Lum of the Harvard-Yenching Library, we feature two letters written to her in spring 1905 from her mother, Madame Miaohua, Kang's first wife, and her sister, Kang Tonghe, whom Kang Youwei adopted after her father, Kang Guangren, was executed by Empress Dowager Cixi after the failure of the Hundred Days of Reform.  The letter writers were in Macao, and  Tongbi was living in Connecticut and attending high school in Hartford.  Her father was also in the 1905, and Tongbi would join him during his travels.

Below are links to the original letters and to a document giving historical and genealogical background to the letters and English translations.  Thanks to Chen Xuezhang, Hongmei Sun, and Zhao Liren for their contributions.  The original letters are in the Rare Books Collection of Harvard-Yenching Library.

Madame Miaohua Letter to Kang Tongbi
Kang Tonghe Letter to Kang Tongbi with Niantie
Envelope Enclosing Both Letters

Two Letters from "Home" to Kang Tongbi: Translation and Background

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