Mary C. Wright

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Mary C. Wright
Born (1917-09-25)September 25, 1917
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
Died June 18, 1970(1970-06-18) (aged 52)
Guilford, Connecticut, USA
Citizenship USA
Fields History
Institutions Yale University
Notable students

Jonathan Spence

Sherman Cochran
Known for Study of Xinhai Revolution

Mary Clabaugh Wright (born Mary Oliver Clabaugh; Chinese name 芮瑪麗 Ruì Mǎlì; September 25, 1917 – June 18, 1970) was an American sinologist and historian who specialized in the study of the Chinese Revolution of 1911. She was the first woman to gain tenure in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale University, and subsequently the first woman to be appointed a full professor in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale.[1][2][3] She was married to historian Arthur F. Wright.


Wright was born Mary Oliver Clabaugh on September 25, 1917, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She attended Ramsay High School in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1934 she received a scholarship to Vassar College at Poughkeepsie, New York. After graduating in 1938, she went to Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study European history, but her interests turned to modern Chinese history. She received her Master of Arts in 1939.[2]

On July 6, 1940 she married Arthur F. Wright, who was a graduate student studying Chinese and Japanese history at Harvard University, and the two of them immediately went to Asia to carry out research for their PhDs. For the first year they stayed in Kyoto, Japan, and then in June 1941 they moved to Beijing, China. The pair were unable to leave China as a result of World War II, and in March 1943 they were interned in the Weixian Internment Camp in Shandong (modern Weifang city), where they remained until liberated by American paratroopers in October 1945.[2]

At the end of the war the Wrights decided to remain in China to further their research. Based in Beijing, they traveled throughout China and met important figures, including Mao Zedong. They also became representatives of the Hoover Library, helping to gather material relating to the 1911 revolution for the library (Mary was mainly responsible for these collection activities). In 1947 they returned to America, and while her husband joined the faculty at Stanford University, Mary accepted an appointment as curator of the China collection at the Hoover Library at Stanford. She obtained her PhD in 1951 from Radcliffe College, with her dissertation on the Tongzhi Restoration (1862–1874).[2]

In 1959 Arthur and Mary Wright both accepted positions as associate professors in the history department at Yale University. Mary's appointment made her the first woman to gain tenure in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale University.[1][2] In 1964 she became the first woman to be appointed to a full professorship in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale.[3][4] She was responsible for founding the Society for Ch'ing Studies and its journal, Ch'ing-Shih Wen-T'i.[2]

She died at home in Guilford, Connecticut, of lung cancer, aged 52, on June 18, 1970. She had two sons, Charles Duncan Wright (born 1950) and Jonathan Arthur Wright (born 1952).[4]


  • 1955. "From Revolution to Restoration: The Transformation of Kuomintang Ideology"; Far Eastern Quarterly XIV, 4.
  • 1957. The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism: The Tʻung-chih Restoration, 1862-1874. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804704755
  • 1968. Editor. China in Revolution: The First Phase, 1900-1913. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300014600


  1. ^ a b "Glorious Women: A Tribute to Some of Yale's Luminaries". Yale University. Retrieved 2013-01-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Guide to the Arthur Frederick and Mary Clabaugh Wright Papers MS 876". Yale University Library. Retrieved 2013-01-09. 
  3. ^ a b "Becomes Yale Professor". The Day. April 19, 1965. p. 24. 
  4. ^ a b "Dr. Mary Clabaugh Wright, 52". New York Times Biographical Service 1: 1411. June 19, 1970. ISSN 0161-2433. 

External links[edit]

Mary Clabaugh Wright at Find a Grave