In response to your request of March 24 we sent you on June 17 500 copies of an earlier number of my LETTER FROM CHINA of which we had a surplus and shall send you 200 copies of the issue I am now preparing which will be devoted primarily to Vietnam and the present total world situation and will be numbered 50. After that there will be no more letters from China until September so you have plenty of time to explore the possibilities of your actual need.
I note that a group of students at the University of California in Berkeley want to visit China and North Vietnam. This is not at all easy. On the whole, your best chance might be to write to Hanoi and indicate the work that some of the organizations you represent are doing on behalf of Vietnam. This might possibly bring you permission to come to Hanoi in which case China would probably give you a transit visa.
In point of fact all Americans are automatically turned down by China these days because of the escalation of Johnson's war in Vietnam, which several times has intruded into China. Having no diplomatic representation in Washington, China has no sources which allow her to check the character of applicants and therefore makes the practice of refusing everybody from the United States. A certain number of Americans are already in Peking and most of us here feel that it would be very useful for the United States and especially for the Left-wing progressive movement in the United States if groups of students such as you mention could make a tour of China. So far we have not convinced the Chinese authorities. My own brother was refused a visa on what was probably my last chance of seeing him when he was going around the world on a tour. Scott Nearing was similarly refused. Because of this I have very little hope that any permission can be gained for your organization. However, I shall place it in a special folder with similar applications and raise the question from time to time with such people here as may have authority.
Very truly yours,
Anna Louise Strong
I do not know exactly how this happened, but somehow she got my name and address during my period as a Berkeley campus student revolutionary and wrote me several letters from China in 1966 and 1967. Not long after receiving this last letter, I read in the New York Times that she had died.
Frankly, I don't think she's famous for anything, except for being a member of the small corps of leftists who fell in with Mao.
The web site Philately says this about her:
STRONG, Anna Louise (1885-1970) American communist, author, journalist. Born November 24, 1885 in Friend, Nebraska, she advocated communism in her newsletter, Letter from China. She died March 29, 1970 in Peking, China. - China People's Republic 1990. (The last bit of information means the PRC issued a stamp about her.)
Anna Louise Strong is probably quite well remembered in China among older Communist Party members. No doubt one of the Chinese government's publications, such as Beijing Review, published one or more profiles of her life.
A Poem By Anna Louise Strong .
She was known for her interview with Mao in the 30's. It was during that interview the famous phrase "Paper Tiger" was coined by Mao. There were rumors she was the mistress of the commander of the red army, Zhu De. But obviously there was no official confirmation.
A couple of years ago, China made a movie about her life. She was portrayed in the movie by my colleague Lustig's daughter who was a student of Chinese at Harvard University.
Strong wrote a book "China's Millions" published by Coward McCann (New York, 1928) about her experiences in China. Also a biography about her "Right in Her Soul: The Life of Anna Louise Strong" written by Tracy Strong and Helene Keyssar (New York: Random House, 1983). I'm sure there are others.
I teach Chinese literature and history at George Washington University and I am going to China this June with a Women's Studies Delegation. Could you tell me how I can research her doings in China? We are going to Beijing, Xian, Nanjing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. As I read books about her (right now "I Change Worlds") I am struck by her mention of her original roots in northern Ohio (Strongsville). Her great-grandfather, John Strong, moved from New England because the religious atmosphere was too lax there. In other words, he was a fierce Puritan. Even though she seems to espouse no official religion in her adult life (her father was a Congregational minister), she has some of the fierceness and moral certainty that her ancestors possessed. Unfortunately her symphathies were misplaced, as we all know now Communism has been a disaster everywhere it has been tried. But I see her optimism and trust in human nature in her writing, as an American and perhaps a midwestern trait as well.
Molly Spitzer Frost
In 1966, I was the president of the Campus Sexual Rights Forum at the University of California at Berkeley. My organization had a PO Box at the Berkeley Post Office. One day, a letter from her appeared in my box. In those days, there was virtually no communication with Communist China so I was surprised to see a letter from there.
I answered her letter and we exchanged one or two more letters. A year later I moved to New York City and lost contact with her.
It was only when I read her obituary in the newspapers that I found out that she was a famous person.
I have heard that Stalin put her in prison and after being released from there she went to China.
I would like to have your permission to post your letter as an addendum to my web page on Anna Louise Strong.
Hope to hear from you soon! (As I mentioned, she is a relative and we have lots of family stories about her. She could be difficult).
thanks, Molly Spitzer Frost
Of course you may post my short message on your Web Page, for what it's worth. I'm doing some research into her life right now, and I'm going to look for some memorabilia about her when I'm in China. Apparently there is a Strong-Smedley-Snow archives there, and she is buried in the Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery south of Beijing. I would appreciate if you could send me any material that you have on her. And you have a Web Page on her? Or is it part of your own Web Page? What is the address?
I have discovered a long-lost third cousin of mine, named Tracy Strong, who teaches political theory at San Diego, and who wrote a book on Anna Louise in 1983. Amazingly, he was born in a Japanese internment camp in 1943 where his missionary family was being kept during WWII.
Please keep me posted on any other sources I should know about. By the way, where do you live??
Molly Spitzer Frost