Xu Teli, born in Changsha on February 1, 1877, worked as a teacher at Hunan No. 1 Normal School. He advocated work-study in France, and traveled there to do so himself in 1919. Three years later he returned and established the Changsha Girls Normal School. Xu joined the Communist Party of China in 1927, and participated in the Nanchang Uprising. Later he relocated to the Communist-controlled area where he was appointed Education Minister. Xu joined the Long March in 1934, and after its conclusion he engaged in education and the dissemination of information.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Xu was elected as a member of the Central People’s Government, a member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and as a member of the Central Committee of the 7th and 8th Congress of the Communist Party of China. Xu passed away in Beijing on November 28, 1968.