December 12, 2003 by

Derk Bodde

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Categories: Education, Writers/Editors

dbodde.jpgDerk Bodde, the first American Fulbright scholar, died on Nov. 3. Cause of death was not released. He was 94.
Born in Massachusetts, Bodde spent part of his childhood in China where his father worked as a physics professor in Shanghai. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University, Bodde received a scholarship to study at Yenching University in Beijing.
He earned a doctorate in Chinese studies from the University of Leiden in Amsterdam, then returned to the states and became a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. An expert on the Qin dynasty of the late third century B.C., Bodde was dedicated to making Chinese history, language and customs understandable to his students.
During World War II, he left academia to aid the Office of Strategic Services’ Research Analysis Division in the Library of Congress, and the Office of War Information. Once his services were no longer needed, Bodde returned to Penn, where he remained until his retirement in 1975.
When the Fulbright program was launched in 1948, Bodde was the first American to receive a one year fellowship to study in Peking. He was in the city when the Communists took over, an experience he later recounted in the book, “Peking Diary: A Year of Revolution.” Bodde also spent 20 years working on translations of Fung Yu-lan’s “A History of Chinese Philosophy.” In 1995, Bodde received the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Association of Asian Studies.

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