Wason Collection at Cornell
At last I have seen the Wason Collection.
Back in 2001 I was searching the Internet trying to find out more about my family tree when I found a page telling about Charles W. Wason, an 1876 graduate of Cornell who donated 9,500 books, 1,600 pamphlets and 550 manuscripts to Cornell along with $50,000 for the future expansion of the collection. Click to: http://www.explore.cornell.edu/scene.cfm?scene=Wason%20Collectionhttp://www.explore.cornell.edu/scene.cfm?scene=Wason%20Collection
The Wason Collection–one of the top East Asian library collections in the nation–is housed in the Carl A. Kroch Asia Library, a unique underground structure with three floors of books, reading rooms, exhibit spaces and offices.
On July 13, I made a five hour drive from my home in Connecticut to meet Thomas Hahn, curator of the Charles W. Wason Collection on East-Asia at Cornell University in Ithaca New York. “You are the first Wason I know of that visited here,” said Hahn who has been the curator for seven years.
When I first contacted the Wason Collection at Cornell by email I identified myself as a relative of Charles W. Wason and inquired about the Wason Collection. I mentioned that one day I would like to visit. In his reply Mr. Hahn welcomed me and mentioned that the collection contains memorabilia on and by Charles Wason, which Imight find interesting.
Months and years passed, then in June I overheard a friend mention that he was planning to visit Cornell. I told him about the Wason Collection and my longtime yearning to see it. So wentdrove together and shared the driving.
When we finally arrived at Ithaca and made our way across the busy campus, I stepped into the curator’s office and asked for Mr. Hahn. A woman told me that he had just stepped out but she would tell him he had a visitor.
“Tell him Mr. Wason is here,” I said, feeling important. Within a minute we were greeting one another. He had prepared a few items to show me. The first was a Dutch book printed in 1672,on the open market the book would be worth about $25,000.
A large portrait of Charles W. Wason hangs in curator’s office above a wooden model of a junk boat. Mr. Hahn also showed us some of the scrapbooks that Charles Wason compiled as a young man. The paper was yellow but the print was still very legible.
During our conversation Mr. Hahn told us that Mr. Wason was very serious about promoting understanding between the Orient and the Occident. He also said the Wason Collection has grown just as its founder desired. The collection now contains nearly one million items in many formats and the focus has expanded to include materials from Japan, Tibet, Manchuria and Korea. He said that scholars from throughout America and the world and are attracted.by the unique resources.
I told the curator thata few years ago my uncle, James Wason successfully traced the family tree back about ten generations with help from Bob Wason – a relative who has stacks of information and a great website: http://www.interwrx.com/bobwason/default.htmlhttp://www.interwrx.com/bobwason/default.html.
The first four Wasons came to America in about 1728 from the Ulster area of Ireland. The details are not clear but Thomas, James, Isabel and Margaret Wason, most likely were siblings and unmarried. They arrived in Massachusetts and later settled in New Hampshire. Later generations spread to Vermont and then some Wasons, seeking more fertile farmland, went to Western Wisconsin. That is my lineage. Someday I plan to visit the Charles W. Wason Collection at Cornell University again.
I encourage everyone reading this too also go wee the Wason collection.