Charles Hucker

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Charles O. Hucker (June 21, 1919 – November 18, 1994), was a professor of Chinese language and history at the University of Michigan. He was regarded as one of the foremost historians of Imperial China and a leading figure in the promotion of academic programs in Asian Studies during the 1950s and 1960s.

Born in St. Louis, Hucker graduated from the University of Texas, and served in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War, where he rose to the rank of major and was awarded the Bronze Star. He completed a Ph.D. in Chinese language from the University of Chicago, was a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, a senior fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a frequent consultant to the U.S. Office of Education, foundations, and various colleges and universities. Hucker was awarded an honorary doctorate of humanities from Oakland University in 1974. Before joining the University of Michigan in 1965 where he was the chair of the Department of Far Eastern Languages and Literatures, Hucker taught at the University of Chicago, the University of Arizona, and Oakland University. Throughout his teaching career, Hucker was an active member of many professional associations. Hucker was among a small number of American scholars of Chinese history who visited scholarly centers in China in 1979 under the joint auspices of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

At the time of his retirement from the University of Michigan in 1983, Hucker was regarded as one of the foremost historians of imperial China and a leading promoter of academic programs in Asian Studies during the 1950s and 1960s. In his honor, the University established the Charles O. Hucker professorship in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. Hucker was particularly noted for his "A Dictionary of Official Titles in Imperial China," regarded as the most comprehensive guide to traditional Chinese government in a Western language, as well as his study of the Censorial system in Ming Dynasty China. He also wrote "China's Imperial Past," a general history of Imperial China. He was a contributor to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopedia Americana, and The Cambridge History of China. His China to 1850: A Short History (1975) was widely used as a college text.

In retirement, Hucker and his wife, the former Myrl Henderson, whom he wed in 1943, lived in Tucson, Arizona, where he was a volunteer in schools and hospitals. Hucker also wrote plays and short stories, several of which have been published or produced. Hucker died on November 14, 1994, in Odessa, Texas, at the age of 75. In addition to his wife, Hucker was survived by a brother and a sister.

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