Stanford asks court to help clarify ownership of Chiang Kai-shek archives
For almost nine years, Stanford's Hoover Institution has had on deposit archival material relating to the diaries and papers of both Chiang Kai-shek, who ruled mainland China for 22 years and then Taiwan for an additional 26 years; and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, who ruled Taiwan for 16 years.
In accordance with the wishes of depositor, Chiang Fang Chih-yi (Elizabeth Chiang), a family daughter-in-law, Hoover has provided access to redacted copies of the Chiang Kai-shek diaries in its reading room, and the collection has become one of the most popular of the archives – viewed by hundreds of people from around the world each year.
Other persons have subsequently claimed an interest in the material, and for the last several years, Hoover has tried to work with all of the claimants to reach an agreement regarding the ownership and status of the deposit, which has been crucial in understanding 20th century history.
Unable to resolve the dispute, Stanford last Friday filed an interpleader action in federal court, asking the court to determine the ownership interests of property with multiple claimants. The university is not advocating for one outcome or another; Hoover is simply looking for clarity so it can either return the materials to its proper owner(s), or continue to hold the materials.
"We are incredibly grateful to the Chiang family, and the Hoover Institution's number one goal throughout has been to be a good custodian of the family's impressive and storied heritage. We have been working diligently with the family to reach an agreement," said Eric Wakin, director of library and archives at Hoover.
"Despite our many attempts, we have not been able to resolve the dispute and so are reluctantly turning to the Court for assistance," Wakin said. "It has been a great privilege for the Hoover Institution to be the home to the Chiang family material, and we sincerely hope that a resolution can be found soon."
The Hoover Institution Library and Archives are among the world’s most important repositories of unique archival materials and rare publications on political, social, and economic change in the modern era. It is common for materials to be donated or deposited for study and research purposes.