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Profile of Campus People in the News—Dr. Yung-Ho Tsao
Helping promote the international reputation of Taiwan Studies.
A Self-made Scholar Whose Perseverance Is Worthy of Emulation by
The Young Generation

Mr. Yung-Ho Tsao and Mrs. Jacqueline Hwang Peng, who just earned the honorary doctoral degrees from NTU, will be introduced by the spotlight section of the university webpage. First we would like to introduce Mr. Yung-Ho Tsao. Mr. Tsao was born in 1920 (the 9th year of Taisho), and was the descendant of a wealthy and established Tsao family in Shih-Lin, Taipei. Owing to his father's teachings, Mr. Tsao read a bunch of extra-curricular stuff ever since he was a child, and also developed an keen interest in literature, history, and philosophy. After he graduated from the Second Middle School of the Taipei State, in order to resist the prevailing values of that time—that promising young people should pursue a career in medicine or go work for a bank, Mr. Tsao refused to go to college. Even though he could not defy his family's insistence, and worked for a while at the Shih-Lin Credit Sales Cooperation Unit , eventually he fled the work place and started his long and hard path of self study.

In March of 1947, under the recommendation from Yun-Ping Yang and Shao-Hsin Chen, Mr. Tsao went to work for the library of National Taiwan University. This was an important turning point in his life. The National Taiwan University opened up a chance for life learning for him and was for him a treasure of knowledge. Until he retired in October , 1985, Mr. Tsao spent his entire lifetime in the NTU library, where he researched far and wide and read many books. Whether he read indiscriminately, or after 1965 whereupon he concentrated on his research of Taiwanese history, he was like an omnivorous animal devouring all kinds of books, which resulted in his extensive knowledge, and consolidated his concepts of time and space which transcended that born of Taiwanese island and of Han viewpoints. Because of his job, he had to get in touch with all sorts of documentation from Europe, America, and Japan. That made him realize that multi-lingual proficiency is a must tool for historians, So, in his spare time, he devoted all his leisure hours to learn foreign languages.

Mr. Tsao's devotion to learning foreign languages made him a rare "polyglot" in Taiwan's historical society. He is known for his proficiency in Japanese, English, Dutch, and a little of Spanish, German and Latin. The best known research of his was done through the grasp of old Dutch documentation which dealt with the early history of Taiwan. The thing that influenced him the most was that he became a student of Iwao Seiichi. Dr. Iwao originally taught at the Taihoku Imperial University (the predecessor of National Taiwan University) before the Second World War. After he returned to Japan, he taught at Tokyo University. He had a chance to read a treatise on Taiwan history written by Mr. Tsao while he was in Japan. He was so thrilled with Mr. Tsao's treatise to the extent that he adopted Mr. Tsao as his disciple and succeeded in applying an UNESCO fellowship for Mr. Tsao which allowed Mr. Tsao, who had not had a college education to date, to study for a year at Tokyo University where the library collections were copious and at the Tokyo University Historical Documents Compiling Center. In that particular year, Dr. Iwao spent time on a regular basis to give Mr. Tsao personal guidance, and instructed Mr. Tsao to use unpublished Dutch documents to conduct research. This encounter not only enhanced Mr. Tsao's ability to conduct rigorous academic research, but also became a teacher/student relationship which Mr. Tsao remembers to this date and dare not forget.

From 1973 to 1975, the East Asian Research Center of Chinese University of Hong Kong co-organized the "Vietnam Historical Research Program" with the Vietnam Research Center of the Southern Illinois University , to which Mr. Tsao was invited as a visiting research fellow to participate in the research of the Chinese documentation in the history of Vietnam.. In 1978, Mr. Tsao was again invited by the Research Center for the Development of European History of Leiden University to participate in the editing and proofreading of "Zeelandia Diary". The above mentioned experiences finally made Mr. Tsao a scholar of international reputation among the historians of Taiwan.

Mr. Tsao, who never stopped writing in his entire life, gradually gained the recognition of the academic circles in Taiwan by his important publications on Taiwan's early history, the Chinese and Western Transportation History and the Marine Development History. In August of 1984, he was appointed by the Three People's Principles Research Institute (the predecessor of Zhong-Shan Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences) of Academia Sinica as a part-time research fellow, and also by National Taiwan University as a part-time Professor of the History Department. For a researcher who does not have a college education, Mr. Tsao could receive affirmation from academic institutions which place great emphasis on academic credentials. That can be said to be the greatest encouragement that Taiwan society could give to a scholar who spent his lifetime tirelessly pursuing academic research.

If we turn over the pages of Taiwanese documents and research publications, we will find that Mr. Tsao and the gentlemen from the Economic Research Room of the Bank of Taiwan, had spent hours in the libraries and dossier archives of Taiwan, and even to Japan, the United States and Europe to copy, collate, and translate all sorts of historical documentation, then carefully edited and published a series of collections on Taiwan Studies. Without their initial efforts, and without the collation and publication of these Taiwan-related historical documents, we cannot imagine what would be the process of the research on Taiwan History? In essence, Mr. Tsao not only accomplished himself through hard study, but also developed a rich soil for the historical society of Taiwan with the gentlemen of his time.

Therefore, we have two reasons to confer the honorary doctoral degree on Mr. Yung-Ho Tsao. First, he enhanced the international reputation of the study of Taiwanese history. Academician Yung-Ho Tsao, while he was working in the library of NTU, he deeply felt the importance of Taiwanese historical documents. In addition to actively devoting himself to the research of Taiwanese history, he also published "Collection of Taiwanese Historical Documents" on a pro bono basis. Starting from 1960, he was often invited to Japan and the countries in America and Europe, to participate in international conferences and to promote cooperation programs. He established a solid foundation for the research of Taiwanese history, and enhanced the international reputation of Taiwanese Historical studies. His contributions are indelible.

Secondly, Mr. Tsao is diligent and perseverant, and can be a model scholar for the young generation of students to emulate. Unconfined by his academic background and the nature of his job , Mr. Tsao, with his enthusiasm and perseverance, studied foreign languages in his spare time and devoted himself to academic research. His achievements are abundant and have been widely and universally recognized. Starting from 1984, he taught at the Department of History and directed graduate students. Over the last twenty years he has cultivated many outstanding talents, both at home and abroad. In addition, he devoted his own money and manpower to apply for research projects and to establish foundations, supporting relevant academic activities and publications, and vied for opportunities to send the young generation of scholars to study abroad. He sponsored and promoted the research on Taiwanese history and maritime history. His unselfish character, his devotion to academic research, and his charisma in promoting the young generation of scholars won universal admiration and respect from the academia and society of Taiwan.

Chinese version