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Eminent Historian and Kluge Prize Winner Yu Ying-shih Passes Away at 91

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Yu Ying-shih, in tuxedo, speaks at a lectern wearing a Kluge Prize medal around his neck.
Yu Ying-shih delivering his acceptance speech for the 2006 Kluge Prize.

Yu Ying-shih, considered by many to be the greatest Chinese historian of his time, passed away on August 1st at age 91 in his Princeton, New Jersey home.

Yu was Gordon Wu ’58 Professor of Chinese Studies, Emeritus, at Princeton University. Born in Tianjin, China, he received his PhD from Harvard University in 1962. Over a long and distinguished career, he taught at the University of Michigan, Yale University, Princeton University, and Harvard, in addition to serving as Head of New Asia College in Hong Kong. Yu retired from Princeton in 2001.

Dongfang Shao, Chief of the Asian Division of the Library of Congress, wrote for the Kluge Center’s blog about Yu Ying-shih after Yu was awarded the first-ever Tang Prize in Sinology in 2014 for his “mastery of and insight into Chinese intellectual, political, and cultural history with an emphasis on his profound research into the history of public intellectuals in China.” Shao described Yu at the time as “arguably the most important living Chinese historian who has made innovative and influential contributions in a wide range of fields within Chinese history,” who was also “considered by many Chinese scholars to be the finest living scholarly writer.” Read the full post here.

In 2006, Yu Ying-shih was awarded the John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity, along with John Hope Franklin, by then-Librarian of Congress James Billington. Watch the full prize ceremony, including an acceptance speech from Yu, below.



  1. Humanity! what end, love truth virtue.

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