Summary Information
Title: Chinese Nationality Room Committee Collection
Collection Number: UA.40.04
Creator: University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Chinese Nationality Room Committee..

Collection Dates: 1929-1939
Extent: 2.5 linear feet (5 boxes)

Language: English

The bulk of the material in this collection is in English, but some papers are in Traditional Chinese.

The Chinese Nationality Room Committee Collection holds records pertaining to the design, funding, and construction of the Chinese Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning. The committee was established in 1929, and the room was dedicated on October 6, 1939. The collection is composed of correspondence, design notes, blueprints, newspaper clippings, financial reports, meeting minutes, summaries of daily progress, photographs, pamphlets, invitations, and publicity pertaining to the establishment of the Chinese Nationality Room.

ULS Archives Service Center
University of Pittsburgh Library System
7500 Thomas Boulevard
Pittsburgh, PA, 15260
Date Published:

October 2015

Finding aid prepared by Alexandra Hebda.

The Chinese Nationality Room Committee, or the Committee on China Memorial Room, was established in 1929 by the Chinese Students Club to raise funds for and coordinate the construction of the Chinese Classroom in the Cathedral of Learning. After fundraising among Chinese communities in Pittsburgh and on the East Coast, the Chinese Nationalist government agreed to donate $10,000 to the project after a petition from the committee chairman, Dr. Chi Fang Lai. The committee received the contribution in 1935, and the room was dedicated on October 6, 1939, as one of the original 19 Nationality Classrooms.

The first chairman of the committee was Dr. Lai, a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh. On September 20, 1930, John Tsui was appointed the second chairman of the Chinese Nationality Room Committee. The design for the Chinese Nationality Room was drafted by Teng Kwei, a Beijing artist who had been studying at Harvard, and the architect was Dr. Henry Killam Murphy, the architectural advisor to the Nationalist government. The room was established with the assistance of Ruth Crawford Mitchell, Advisor to the Nationality Rooms, and was dedicated by Dr. Hu Shih, the republic of China’s ambassador to the United States.

The room, inspired by the Forbidden City’s palace hall, contains one circular table which seats both the students and the professor. Above the table is a relief of a golden, five-clawed Imperial dragon, which is surrounded by a ceiling decorated in the Chinese style. The doorframe is guarded by laughing lions and carved with plum blossoms, the national flower of the Republic of China. On the west wall is a panel decorated with the image of Confucius, to whom the room itself was dedicated. The chalkboard is capable of sliding out, and the base below it displays a carved image of the Bagua.

Today, the Chinese Nationality Room Committee provides a scholarship which allows students to study abroad in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Collection Scope and Content Notes

The Chinese Nationality Room Committee Collection is composed of documents related to the design, funding, and construction of the Chinese Nationality Room in the Cathedral of Learning. The bulk of these records date from between the start of planning in 1929 and the dedication of the room in 1939. These documents consist of correspondence, primarily between Ruth Crawford Mitchell, members of the Chinese Nationality Room Committee, and the architects Teng Kwei and Henry K. Murphy; design notes; blueprints; newspaper clippings; financial reports; committee meeting minutes; summaries of daily progress; photographs; pamphlets; invitations; and publicity pertaining to the Chinese Nationality Room and the Chinese and Chinese-American community in Pittsburgh. Materials are primarily in English, though some are in Traditional Chinese characters.

Subject Terms

  • Chinese Americans -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Classrooms -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh

Corporate Names
  • Nationality Rooms (Cathedral of Learning, Pittsburgh, Pa.).
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program. Chinese Nationality Room Committee..
  • University of Pittsburgh. Nationality Rooms Program.

Personal Names
  • Kwei, Teng
  • Lai, Chi Fang
  • Mitchell, Ruth Crawford, 1890-
  • Murphy, Henry Killam
  • Tsui, John H., 1900-1978

  • Architectural drawings (Visual works)
  • Clippings (Information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Financial records
  • Minutes
  • Photographs

  • University of Pittsburgh

Access and Use
Access Restrictions:

No restrictions.

Acquisition Information:

Transferred to the University Archives by the Nationality Rooms Program on August 3, 2014.

Preferred Citation:

Chinese Nationality Room Committee Collection, 1929-1939, UA.40.04, University of Pittsburgh Archives

Processing Information:

This collection was processed by Alexandra Hebda in October 2015.


The University of Pittsburgh holds the property rights to the material in this collection, but the copyright may still be held by the original creator/author. Researchers are therefore advised to follow the regulations set forth in the U.S. Copyright Code when publishing, quoting, or reproducing material from this collection without the consent of the creator/author or that go beyond what is allowed by fair use.

Collection Inventory

Box 1
Folder 1 Correspondence with Architect, 1929
Folder 2 Correspondence with Architect, 1930
Folder 3 Correspondence with Architect, 1931
Folder 4 Correspondence with Architect, 1932
Folder 5 Correspondence with Architect, 1933
Folder 6 Correspondence with Architect, 1934
Folder 7 Correspondence with Architect, 1935
Folder 8 Correspondence with Architect, 1936
Folder 9 Correspondence with Architect, 1937
Folder 10 Correspondence with Architect, 1938
Folder 11 Correspondence with Architect, 1939

Box 2
Folder 1 Newspaper Clippings, 1930-1939
Folder 2 Financial Statements, 1931-1939
Folder 3 Committee Meeting Minutes, 1931-1939
Folder 4 Running Memo, 1929-1939

Box 3
Folder 1 Photographs, 1929-1939

Box 4
Folder 1 Publicity, 1929-1939
Folder 2 General Correspondence, 1929
Folder 3 General Correspondence, 1930
Folder 4 General Correspondence, 1931
Folder 5 General Correspondence, 1932
Folder 6 General Correspondence, 1933
Folder 7 General Correspondence, 1934

Box 5
Folder 1 General Correspondence, 1935
Folder 2 General Correspondence, 1936
Folder 3 General Correspondence, 1937
Folder 4 General Correspondence, 1938
Folder 5 General Correspondence, 1939
Box 6 Committee Archives Box

This large box contains four smaller, silk covered boxes that originally contained the archives of the Chinese Nationality Room Committee. All five containers are held closed with bone clasps.