Since her establishment more than a century ago, Tsinghua University has educated a large number of students to become useful people in society. The most important works of literature they leave behind to the alma mater are their theses. In addition to more than 60,000 master's theses and doctoral dissertations since the 1980s in the library's collection, there are also archives of graduation theses, term papers, lab reports, etc. from the 1920s to the 1960s, an important spiritual wealth and cultural heritage of Tsinghua.
In contrast to the unified format and binding provisions in today's papers, these completed in the 20s and 30s are all different in its format and binding. They were each handwritten with various literary forms and varying from only a few pages to as thick as 400-500 pages that were divided into volumes. These documents keep priceless pieces of history, for example Guan Xiaoxian of the Department of Philosophy in 1927 wrote a paper titled "The Interpretation on the Thoughts of Benevolence and Righteousness in the Works of Mencius" with the title page having Liang Qichao's own handwritten comments, "some of your interpretations are brilliant, better than the first draft." Ye Yeqin of the Department of Political Science was one of the first 11 girls admitted to Tsinghua, whose thesis written in 1932 titled "The Political Thoughts Reflected in Individualism and Socialism" is also part of the collection. This batch of papers fully shows the historical evolution and cultural changes of Tsinghua University. In addition, fountain pens slowly replaced brush pens for handwritten papers over the course of time, and in the 40s, English typescript, hand-carved mimeographed drafts, carbon copies, mimeographed drafts, and other modifications gradually appeared. For example, a paper titled, "A Study on Dickens" written in 1945 by Wang Gaoxiang of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature in Southwest Associated University is delicately embellished with yellow-faced seal script and bound by a beautiful ribbon. The collection of papers comes from more than 20 departments including arts, science, engineering, law, medical, etc., reflecting Tsinghua's direction of evolution.
Surviving years of war and chaos, these documents vividly depict the history of different periods of time. Comments by renowned scholars can be found everywhere in these papers such as "Su Shi Chronicles" by Qu Shuqin of the Department of Chinese Literature written in 1948, having the comments, signature, and seal of Zhu Ziqing and Pu Jiangqing. Huang Jiayuan from the Department of Construction gathered several black-and-white photos of old storefronts in his paper, "The Evolution of Storefront Buildings of Beijing" written in 1951, which his adviser Liang Sicheng signed and commented on the cover. In this collection, there are also comments from the great master Liang Qichao, passionate poet Wen Yiduo, logic expert Jin Yuelin, prose expert Zhu Ziqing, sociologist Pan Guangdan, architect Liang Sicheng…which completely reflected their teaching spirit between the lines. Some authors of these papers, former Tsinghua students, also became famous masters themselves later in life including mathematician Zhao Fangxiong, diplomat Zi Zhongjun, eminent writer Feng Zhongpu, law expert Duan Muzheng, historian Hua Zhisun, economist Li Chonghuai…They all had already shown their talents while studying at Tsinghua.
These surviving historical documentations also record the academic performances of students, the hard work of teachers through the years, and the university's history. Indeed, it is an invaluable historical treasure for Tsinghua people.