Release Notes – Wang Youqin (January 20, 2022)
In 2000, I created the “Victims of the Cultural Revolution Memorial Garden” website. My computer skills were limited to two summer programs I attended in 1997 and 2000. Since then, technology has made great progress.
For the past two decades, I have held a full-time teaching position at the University of Chicago, and I once felt that I could cleanly divide my life into thirds—eight hours for teaching, eight hours for sleeping, and eight hours for writing the history of the Cultural Revolution. What I’ve learned over twenty years is that it can’t be done: there’s just too much to write.
I have researched and cataloged the names and sufferings of many victims; I have kept detailed records and wrote articles and papers one-by-one. I taught myself to make basic websites and publish the literature online for people to discover. In Hong Kong, I published a 520,000-word “Victims of the Cultural Revolution” book. I have tried my best, but there are many things I didn’t do well; there wasn’t enough time.
Now, twenty years after I started, a few young friends and readers offered to help me improve the website. I am happy and grateful, but my writing and websites are hosted by the University of Chicago where I teach, and I can’t give access to the young volunteers. I am retiring soon, and I need to find a long-term home beyond my university work for future historians to expand on. My computer skills are still limited. A friend who lived far away not only helped me register ccrhm.org, but also paid the registration fee. I am deeply grateful to my computer-savvy friends who have given their time to create a sustainable home for documenting the victims of the Cultural Revolution. There is still a lot of work to be done, and stories to be told.
Words from the Producer (January 21, 2022)
We are a small group of volunteers. Over the years, we have come across many writtings by Professor Wang Youqin documenting the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the search for facts. Professor Wang’s research, writings, and publications over two decades have been a Herculean individual effort to tell the stories of the victims. The burden is too heavy, and we wanted to help her.
Her research is published on her “Victims of the Cultural Revolution Memorial Garden” website hosted by the University of Chicago, and we wanted to broaden the reach so more readers—trying to reconcile their own familial trauma, or just discovering the history for the first time—have a place to begin. Here at cchrm.org, we have copied the content of Professor Wang’s memorial website with her permission and given her a place to continue her work with volunteers to preserve and restore the history of the Cultural Revolution.
In this way, we hope the history of the Cultural Revolution can be discovered and recollections shared. Confucius and Sima Qian wrote “Spring and Autumn” and “Records of the Grand Historian” on delicate bamboo slips. Russians wrote eulogies for victims of the gulags and placed them in glass jars in canals built by the forced-labor of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners. We are lucky that we have the Internet to share our stories. We hope that cchrm.org will be a long term home for Professor Wang’s past and future work, and provide opportunities for new volunteers to participate. We have added a new section to this website and plan to add more in the future.
Thank you, readers, for reaching out with critical feedback and questions. Together, we will expand Professor Wang’s work and build a virtual museum to remember the victims of the Cultural Revolution.