Harvard’s third and fourth Ph.D. degrees in Far Eastern Studies are awarded to Yen Yi Huang and Yueh-hwa Lin. Huang and Lin are graduates of Lingnan and Yenching universities, respectively, both of which were supported by the Harvard-Yenching Institute.


The Rice Paddies course is renamed “Chinese 10a: Cultural History of the Far East,” and “History 83b: The Modern Far East.” In a pattern that would henceforth become standard, Reischauer teaches the first term, John King Fairbank the second.

1941, May 20

Faculty of Arts and Sciences votes to approve the establishment of a degree of Ph.D. in History and Far Eastern Languages, to be administered by a special committee appointed by the President. Fairbank is the principal faculty force behind the establishment of the new program.


Francis Cleaves, in his final year of graduate studies, joins the faculty of FEL and assumes responsibility for teaching the first year Chinese course.

1942, February

Following the outbreak of WWII, Elisséeff and Reischauer initiate a special spring term introductory Japanese class that is vastly oversubscribed. Total enrollment in Elementary Japanese surges from six students before Pearl Harbor to fifty-two in the spring term. Some of these students are later recruited for the special Japanese school run by Reischauer in Washington to train cryptanalysts for the Army Signal Corps. They include Howard Hibbett and Benjamin Schwartz.


Francis Cleaves receives his Ph.D. in Far Eastern Studies from Harvard with a special field in Chinese Language of the Mongol Period. His dissertation is titled "A Sino-Mongolian Inscription of 1362." He assumes the post of Faculty Instructor in Far Eastern Languages.


Professor Zhao Yuanren returns to Harvard to teach an intensive Chinese course similar to that offered on the Japanese side. Intensive elementary Chinese is offered both terms; intensive intermediate Chinese is offered from the spring term. In addition, Zhao also teaches Harvard’s first class on non-Mandarin Chinese dialects, entitled “Chinese 9a: Chinese Dialectology.” Enrollment in Mandarin classes also increases, though not as dramatically as Japanese. A total of 22 students enroll in Elementary Chinese, as opposed to thirteen in the preceding year.

Elisséeff and Reischauer continue to offer their intensive course, with Intensive Elementary and Intensive Intermediate Japanese simultaneously offered in both fall and spring terms.


Fairbank initiates a full-time seminar leading to an M.A. known as Regional Studies: China. This is later expanded to include the rest of East Asia.

James Robert Hightower receives his Ph.D. in Far Eastern Languages with a dissertation titled "The Han shih wai chuan." He is appointed to a position as Instructor of Chinese, but spends the next two years on leave in Peking.

Yang Lien-sheng receives his Ph.D. in History and Far Eastern Languages with a dissertation titled "Notes on the Economic History of the Chin Dynasty."


Elizabeth Huff receives the first Ph.D. in Far Eastern Languages to be awarded to a Radcliffe student, for a dissertation on Chinese poetics entitled “Shih-hsueh.” Huff began her graduate career at Harvard / Radcliffe in the mid-1930s, and was studying in China at the outbreak of WWII, whereupon she was interned by the Japanese in Shandong for the duration of the war. After graduating from Harvard, she took a position at UC Berkeley, where she established the East Asian Library.


Mongolian is first offered in FEL as a year-long course taught by Francis Cleaves.

Yang Lien-sheng joins the faculty of the Department of Far Eastern Languages as an assistant professor. He initially teaches Chinese language classes and topics in pre-modern Chinese history.

After a hiatus of several years, the full two semester Rice Paddies course is reorganized and offered again as part of Harvard’s Gen Ed curriculum under the title “History of Far Eastern Civilization.” 119 students enroll in the first semester, 58 in the second.


James Hightower returns to Harvard as Assistant Professor in Far Eastern Languages. He teaches Elementary Chinese, Intermediate Chinese, and the History of Chinese Literature.