Legacies of NTU - No. 9
An Unknown History: NTU’s first official document at the Museum of Archives
Located in the Shui Yuan Campus, the NTU Museum of Archives is dedicated to restoring and preserving the school’s official documents. (Image: NTU Museum of Archives)
Did you know that for a very brief period of time, National Taiwan University was entitled National Taipei University? This little known part of our history has been retained in the NTU Museum of Archives.
The Museum of Archives has a collection of over 1.6 million items of the university’s official documents dating back to 1945. Not only does the archive bear witness to the university’s historical development, the earliest of our school’s official documents serve as a looking glass of the nation’s transformation after the Japanese rule.
For decades, NTU’s first document, document no. 034000001, was nowhere to be found. When going through storage, a staff member found a dated piece of paper that despite bearing the correct document number was signed as “National Taipei University.” This led the personnel to believe that the item had been misplaced, so the document was put away without further attention. It was not until another decade later that the piece of paper was recognized for its true significance.
On November 15, 1945, shortly after the Retrocession of Taiwan, the new Taiwanese government commissioned that Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University be reorganized and renamed "National Taipei University" with Tsung-Lo Lo (羅宗洛) as the first president. As there was a significant lack of resources, the document paper for our first official letter had actually belonged to the school’s predecessor as the person in charge simply crossed out the “Imperial” and added the characters “National” in front of the school’s previous title.
Traces of NTU’s Japanese predecessor are still evident on NTU’s first official document no. 001. (Image: NTU Museum of Archives)
In addition to reflecting the school’s early predicament, this particular document is also telling of the nation’s post-war history. Professor Xiu-Rong Zhang (張秀蓉) wrote in her book about National Taiwan University Hospital between 1945 to 1950 that during its 51-year rule of Formosa, the Japanese government established a strong public infrastructure while contributing to the cultivation of professional talent. However, under the colonial structure, local Taiwanese were limited to holding entry-level positions, which resulted in a substantial need for the new regime to continue employment of Japanese professionals after the former government’s retreat.
NTU’s document no. 001 reflected this part of the nation’s history. The letter was issued to the Keelung City Government, granting its request to hire Japanese professor “Toyama Naozo” of the College of Engineering as an adjunct researcher at its construction division.
The story, however, did not end there. After cross-reference with another document recording the list of Japanese professors who maintained their employment in NTU, we found no traces of a Professor “Toyama Naozo.” Instead, records indicated that the person in question was actually Professor “Toyama Michizo ,” who was a civil engineering professor for the College of Engineering. From this it is deduced our first official document also included a major slip of the pen.
In the December of 1945, less than a month later since its reestablishment, National Taipei University was officially renamed National Taiwan University by the Ministry of Education, and the first document under the new title was filed no. 034000002.
These fascinating anecdotes have emerged from a modest piece of paper that was once overlooked as a misplaced document. To preserve more of the school’s interesting stories, the Museum of Archives has been devoted to restoring and exhibiting these ancient documents for more to enjoy.
Visit the Museum’s official website to learn more about our school’s history, or click HERE to access original article written by the NTU Museum of Archives (05/14/2014).
National Taiwan University is home to an abundance of educational and cultural artifacts that bear the history of the campus’ past. As a result, the NTU Museums project, a campaign that integrates the university’s ten individual museums, was launched in 2005 and officially inaugurated in 2007 so that the school’s hidden treasures could be introduced to the public. To honor the school’s past, the “Legacies of NTU” series will feature the stories of NTU’s hidden treasures by taking you through the most precious items among the university’s collection.