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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 552

Papers of Anna Chennault, 1939-2004 (inclusive), 1955-1989 (bulk)


Papers of Anna Chennault, author, lecturer, business consultant, citizen-diplomat, widow of General Claire Chennault, and active member of the Republican Party.


  • Creation: 1939-2004
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1955-1989


Access Restrictions:

Access. Unavailable for research while being digitized. Folders #19.7, 80.4, 83.1, and 83.2 are closed until January 1, 2040, and #19.10, 19.12, 19.14, 30.5, and 57.7 are closed until January 1, 2026. Individual items throughout the collection are closed as noted to protect personal privacy.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Anna Chennault is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the director of the Schlesinger Library before publishing quotations from materials in the collection.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


34.4 linear feet ((82 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 3 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 2 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 17 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder)

Anna Chennault's papers document her years as a vice president of the Flying Tiger Line, president of TAC International, consultant to various aviation companies and other businesses, as author, and active member of the Republican Party. The bulk of the collection consists of personal and professional correspondence, writings and speeches, business and organizational records, clippings and articles, and daily calendars (kept by her assistants) from 1957 to 1989. Also included are files pertaining to Chennault's work with the Republican Party and numerous Chinese-American organizations, correspondence with General Claire Chennault, and materials related to the General's life and career. Of note are diaries that cover the years she and the General first moved to the United States, and his untimely death, and her correspondence, much of it with influential people. Some material is in Chinese. Most folder titles are Anna Chennault's. Titles provided by the processors are in brackets. Chennault kept the bulk of her files in a long alphabetical run and the processors have largely maintained this arrangement, though biographical and personal materials, writings and speeches, materials on Claire Chennault, and correspondence have been moved into separate groupings.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1947-2002, undated (#1.1-22.8), includes articles about Chennault's many parties and interests; her diaries; the daily calendars kept by her assistants; material about her children; financial documents; a photostat of her marriage license, and itineraries and schedules for her extensive travel both within the United States and overseas; trip journals for travel to Asia; and others. Autobiographical writings are in Series II.

Series II, WRITINGS AND SPEECHES, 1952-1993, undated (#22.9-32.10), contains multiple drafts of Anna Chennault's unpublished novels "After the Harvest Moon" and "Night without Stars." There are two different versions of the latter; in one the heroine's name is "Ling Ling" and in the other, "Lin Lin." The series also includes two dictionaries she compiled for Georgetown University and background material related to their development; annotated drafts and galley proofs; correspondence and publicity related to both autobiographies, A Thousand Springs and The Education of Anna; and her congressional testimony. The series also contains articles and essays, an annotated draft concerning her role in the 1968 October Surprise, and speeches and related publicity, including contracts for speaking engagements and public appearances. Topics on which Chennault spoke include the women's movement, Chinese Americans in politics, events in Asia (including the Vietnam War), democracy and communism, and Chennault's own life and experiences. The series is arranged with Chennault's autobiographical writings appearing first, followed by drafts of the novels, her two dictionaries, assorted other writings, speeches and related correspondence, and finally by publicity and press releases. Chennault's writings on the death of her husband are located in Series III.

Series III, CLAIRE CHENNAULT, 1939-1994, undated (#33.1-36.12, 80.1-80.2), is arranged in two subseries: Subseries A, Biographical and personal, and Subseries B, Correspondence.

Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1939-1994, undated (#33.1-35.11, 80.1-80.2), contains material by and about General Claire Chennault, including articles about him by Anna Chennault and others, obituaries and tributes; writings by him, including drafts of a book titled "My China Years"; and preliminary treatments for a book and movie called "Chennault of China" and related correspondence. The subseries also includes Claire Chennault's diary, translated into Chinese, business and membership cards, and some miscellaneous financial and other papers.

Subseries B, Correspondence, 1941-1982, undated (#35.12-36.12), includes letters received by Chennault, including letters from children of his first marriage; a trust set up for his first wife, Nell; a small amount of correspondence between Claire and Anna Chennault; and a letter from Claire Chennault to his daughter Cynthia Louise.

Series IV, CORRESPONDENCE, 1940-1998, undated (#36.13-45.4, 80.3-83.5) is arranged in four subseries: Subseries A, Family correspondence, Subseries B, Correspondence in English, arranged chronologically, Subseries C, Correspondence in English, arranged alphabetically, Subseries D, Correspondence and related in Chinese.

Subseries A, Family correspondence, 1940-1987, undated (#36.13-36.18), consists of correspondence between Anna Chennault and her father, stepmother, daughters, sisters, and stepchildren.

Subseries B, Correspondence in English, arranged chronologically, 1943-1993 (#37.1-41.14), consists primarily of letters received and sent by Anna Chennault, arranged by year. Topics include General Chennault's illness and death, the death of Anna Chennault's father, fund-raising for the Republican Party, Civil Air Transport reunions, travel, and Anna Chennault's interest in obtaining a political appointment in both the Nixon and Reagan administrations. Business and consultancy activities are also covered. Notable correspondents include Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, and J. Edgar Hoover.

Subseries C, Correspondence in English, arranged alphabetically, 1956-1989 (#42.4-45.4), includes invitations and thank you notes, Anna Chennault's attempts to obtain a position within the Reagan administration, and correspondence with politicians and other public figures.

Subseries D, Correspondence and related in Chinese, 1942-1998, undated (#80.3-83.5), includes family correspondence, letters from friends and from people seeking to immigrate to the United States, and letters pertaining to Chennault's books, lectures, and other activities. Some printed material (in Chinese) is also included here.

Series V, ALPHABETICAL FILES, 1941-2001, undated (#45.5-79.13, 79.15), contains files pertaining to individuals and organizations with which Chennault was associated. Organizations include the Air Force and the Flying Tiger Line, the air cargo company founded by members of General Chennault's troop of pilots. (Anna Chennault served as vice president for international affairs and as a consultant.) Materials on several other companies for which Chennault served as a consultant can also be found here; these include the Grumman Corporation, Norden Systems, and the Northrop Corporation. In addition, the series includes material on the Chennault Foundation, which assisted students from non-communist Asian countries studying in the United States, on Chennault's Council for International Cooperation, and on other business ventures in which she was involved, often with the participation of her close friend Irving Kaufman. The series also includes material on a fashion show directed by Chennault, which was held in Taipei and featured Eastern and Western costumes; some files on individuals, such as Chennault's close friend Thomas Corcoran; and material documenting her involvement with the Republican Party. She was an active member of many Republican committees including the inaugural committee, the finance committee, and the National Republican Heritage Group.

Series VI, PHOTOGRAPHS, OVERSIZED, AND GRAPHIC MATERIALS, 1947-2004 (#PD.1-PD.18, #FD.1-FD.3, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1, 79.14), contains the three subseries described below.

Subseries A, Photographs, 1947-2004 (#PD.1-PD.18), contains photographs of Chennault with family members and with notable political figures. Included are photographs of Chennault's wedding, and of her husband's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, with her daughters, with Presidents Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, with foreign dignitaries such as Chinese Premiers Zhou Ziyang and Li Peng, and at business and social events. The photographs are arranged chronologically and a detailed caption list is #PD.1. Photographs and slides removed from elsewhere in the collection are also included.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

Subseries B, Oversized, 1978, undated (#FD.1-FD.3, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1-SD.3), contains plans for the Chennault's house in Louisiana, background materials for Anna Chennault's Dictionary of New Simplified Chinese Characters and Telegraphic Code Chinese English Dictionary (for Machine Translation) and mourning banners from the funeral of Chennault's father, Y.W. Chan.

Subseries C, Graphic materials, undated (#79.14), includes sketches of Anna and Claire Chennault, and of Madame Chiang Kai-shek.


Author, lecturer, business consultant, and citizen-diplomat, Anna Chen Chennault (née Chen Hsiengmei) was born in Beijing, China, on June 23, 1923, the second of six daughters of Chen Ying-yung (Sam) and Isabelle Liao. Her father was a law professor at Beijing National University and editor of the New China Morning Post. In 1935, with the danger of war with Japan increasing, her father was posted to the Chinese consular office in Mexico while the rest of the family moved to the relative safety of Hong Kong. Following the death of her mother from cancer in 1939, Anna became head of the family; as the war advanced, she moved with her sisters to unoccupied China, where she attended Linguan University, receiving a B.A. in journalism in 1945. She edited the school paper and published her first short story while in college and also began work at the China Central News Agency, becoming their first woman correspondent. She covered the United States 14th Air Force, where she developed a relationship with General Claire Lee Chennault (1893-1958), former commander of the famed Flying Tigers and an ardent supporter of the China Lobby, which sought to sway American public opinion to the side of the Guomindang and Chiang Kai-shek. They married December 21, 1947, and the marriage brought her to the attention of the National Government of the Republic of China (later the government of Taiwan) as well as American businessmen, government officials, military leaders, and lobbyists concerned with United States-Asian relations. In 1946, Claire Chennault co-founded Chinese Relief and Rehabilitation Administration Air Transport, later known as Civil Air Transport, or CAT, to fly relief supplies into interior China; Anna Chennault served as co-editor of CAT's Bulletin in the airline's early years. (The airline later flew passenger flights and worked with the CIA, before going out of business in 1968.)

The Chennaults had two daughters, Claire Anna, born in 1949, and Cynthia Louise, born in 1950. Although originally Democrats, both Claire and Anna Chennault left that party in 1952, due to changes in United States policy towards China, and instead supported Dwight David Eisenhower; Anna Chennault has remained a Republican since then. During the 1950s the couple divided their time between China and the United States, maintaining homes in Louisiana and in Taipei. They continued to speak out against the dangers of communism in China, with Anna frequently addressing American groups on the subject of Taiwan and Chinese-American relations. In 1958 Claire Chennault died of lung cancer, and Anna and her daughters moved to Washington, D.C. She found work at the Georgetown University Chinese Section of Machine Translatable Research, where she worked on Chinese-English dictionaries, eventually becoming head of the section. Her active involvement with the Republican Party began in 1960, when she campaigned for Richard Nixon and helped to organize minority groups. In 1962, Chennault, as president of Chinese Refugee Relief, testified before a Senate Subcommittee, urging the United States to help refugees fleeing the Cultural Revolution; she also warned against the dangers of communism and, bearing this message, lectured widely across the United States. Her visibility further increased when, in 1963, she began a series of Voice of America radio broadcasts, interpreting United States policies for listeners in the People's Republic of China. Her heightened visibility, her fundraising ability, and her connections to leaders in Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines, and South Vietnam, made her increasingly important to the Republican Party, and a valuable contact for establishing contacts in the Far East. In 1968, she played a part, though accounts differ as to the extent of it, in the October Surprise (the collapse of peace talks between North and South Vietnam, which was a major factor in the election of Richard Nixon to the United States presidency). In October of that year, Chennault was placed under FBI surveillance, due to Lyndon Johnson's suspicions of her activities; she was recorded speaking with the South Vietnamese embassy and encouraging the delay of the peace talks, and stating that a Nixon presidency would benefit South Vietnam.

Following the election, Chennault continued to be active in the Republican Party, serving as Special Advisor to the Chair of the 1969 Inaugural Committee and holding frequent parties at her Watergate penthouse. (Chennault did research on prospective guests to ensure a successful mix for each party.) The Nixon administration appointed her to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1970. In 1968, she became Vice President for International Affairs of the Flying Tiger Line, a freight airline established by former members of the Flying Tigers; the first female vice president of an airline, she established Asian landing rights for the airline and traveled extensively through Southeast Asia on the airline's behalf. In 1981, after writing to members of the Reagan administration requesting an appointment, Chennault was named to the President's Export Council; she led the Council's first trade mission, to the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, in 1983, and the following year led a mission which included visits to the People's Republic of China, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. She has written for the Central News Agency in Taipei, run several organizations, and served as a consultant to several companies. She has written a number of books, including several works of fiction and poetry in Chinese, as well as Chennault and the Flying Tigers (1963), a biography of her husband, and two autobiographies: A Thousand Springs: The Portrait of a Marriage (1962) and The Education of Anna (1980).


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1947-2002, undated (#1.1-22.8)
  2. Series II. Writings and speeches, 1952-1993, undated (#22.9-32.10)
  3. Series III. Claire Chennault, 1939-1994, undated (#33.1-36.12, 80.1-80.2)
  4. Series IV. Correspondence, 1940-1998, undated (#36.13-45.4, #80.3-83.5)
  5. Series V. Alphabetical files, 1941-2001, undated (#45.5-79.13, 79.15)
  6. Series VI. Photographs, oversized, and graphic materials 1947-2004 (#PD.1-PD.18, FD.1-FD.3, F+D.1-F+D.2, OD.1-OD.2, SD.1-SD.3, 79.14)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2004-M39, 2004-M103, 2005-M72

The papers of Anna Chennault were given to the Schlesinger Library by Anna Chennault between April 2004 and July 2005.


Donor: Anna Chennault

Accession number: 2004-M39, 2004-M103

Processed by: Susan Earle and Cat Lea Holbrook

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library book collection:

  1. Bundesen, Lynne. Us, People of Washington, D.C. A Photostory: Washington, D.C., Acropolis Books, Ltd., 1976
  2. A Pictorial Biography of Anna Chennault, Pan Xinguo, Yao Moxu et al., editors: Hong Kong Dayuan Publishers, Ltd., 2004
  3. A Woman Anna Chennault, Yang Ping and Liu Jinku, editors: Liaoning People's Publishing Company, 1997

The following item has been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library Manuscript Division:

  1. Dacowits Fall Meeting, 27-31 October 1985, Solvang California.

The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Harvard Yen-Ching Library:

  1. CAT Bulletin, Volume 3 Number 3 - Volume 14 Number 1

The following materials have been removed from the collection and transferred to Harvard University's Fine Arts Library:

  1. Slides and exhibit catalogs for the Son of Heaven exhibit.

Processing Information

Processed: September 2008

By: Susan Earle and Cat Lea Holbrook

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Chennault, Anna. Papers of Anna Chennault, 1939-2004 (inclusive), 1955-1989 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by gifts from the Edward, Frances, and Shirley B. Daniels Fund, the Radcliffe College Class of 1956, and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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