Chinese taught at Harvard by Ge Kunhua (Ko K’un-hua 戈鯤化) (1836-1882)


The first courses in East Asian thought are taught at Harvard in the Department of Philosophy by the Professor of Japanese Literature and Life. This visiting professorship is organized by Professor James Haughton Woods, a specialist in Indian philosophy and a faculty member in the Philosophy Department. The chair is supported by an endowment donated by multiple benefactors, of whom the largest is William Sturgis Bigelow, a famous collector of Japanese art and the source of much of the Boston MFA’s Japanese collection.

The first person to hold the position is Professor Masaharu Anesaki, who offers “Philosophy 5: Religious and Moral Developments of the Japanese, with reference to Philosophy, Art and Literature” and “Philosophy 24: Schools of the Religious and Philosophical Thought of Japan, as compared with those of India and China.”


Charles Hall, co-founder of Alcoa, dies. His will leaves approximately $6.5 million for the promotion of Chinese studies in China.


Professor Masaharu Anesaki offers the first courses at Harvard dedicated to the topics of Japanese Buddhism and literature. He teaches “Philosophy 11a: Buddhist Ethics and Japanese Life” in the fall and “Philosophy 11b: Religion and Poetry in Japan” in the spring. In addition, Anesaki repeats his year-long course “Philosophy 5: Religious and Moral Development of the Japanese.”


Hall Estate trust established.


First courses dedicated to the subject of Confucian thought are taught at Harvard by Professor Hattori of the Imperial University of Tokyo, who replaces Anesaki as Professor of Japanese Literature and Life. Hattori offers three half-courses: “Philosophy 5a: Confucian Ethics and Japanese Life,” “Philosophy 11c: Confucius, his Life and Teachings,” and ”Philosophy 11d: Schools of Confucian Thought in Japan.” Hattori’s salary depletes the majority of the remaining funds in the endowment, and the position is not renewed.


Professor Woods, at the time chair of the Department of Philosophy, formally reestablishes the teaching of Chinese at Harvard by creating a Chair in Chinese. The existence of this Chair is later used to persuade the trustees of the Hall estate that Harvard has an interest in the Far East and will be an adequate shepherd for their funds.

1916-17, Spring

Early class on Chinese religion taught at Harvard in the Divinity School. The course is offered by Reverends Logan H. Roots and James Thayer Addison, and entitled “Christian Missions in China in Relation to the Chinese Religions.”