This overview covers the Library's collection of materials relating to the study of China. The Chinese Section of the Asian Division has custody of Chinese-language materials; other materials about China are in the general collections. Supportive research materials can be found in special format collections: Geography and Map Division; Prints and Photographs Division; and Manuscripts Division. Legal materials are in the custody of the Law Library's Far Eastern Law Division.
The Chinese collection began in 1869, when the Library of Congress acquired 10 works in 933 volumes of Chinese books from the China's Emperor T'ung-chih. By 1912, the collection grew to 16,900 volumes, through acquisitions of notable collections such as the Caleb Cushing Collection of 2,500 volumes and the Rockhill Collection of 6,000 volumes. In 1928, the Division of Chinese Literature was established in the Library. Throughout the next several decades, the collection was increased by acquisitions of other private collections, gifts, and purchases. In 1945, 5,000 volumes were purchased in Chungking for the Library by the U.S. Government Interdepartmental committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications. In 1951, the collection had holdings of 280,682; and by 1975 the collection had reached a size of 411,963 volumes.
Following President Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972, contacts were re-established with libraries and distribution agencies, resulting in substantial acquisitions through exchange and direct purchase. Since that time, materials are purchased through blanket-order dealers in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan; additions are also received through gifts and through exchange with major libraries and scholarly institutions.
The Library's Chinese-language Collection consists of 650,000 books, Manuscripts and publications. It is the largest and most accessible collection outside of China. The Collection holds more than 12,000 periodical titles. The newspaper holdings date from the 1870's to the present, numbering about 1,200 titles; some of these are available in hard copy and others on microform. The Section regularly receives important Chinese-language newspapers, published in various areas of the world. These are microfilmed on a continuing basis. There are approximately 200,000 books in the general collections relating to China.
The Chinese Section receives an average of 12,000 monographs and 2,500 current serial titles annually. The collections in the Chinese Section represent the pre-eminent research resources on China in the Western Hemisphere. The current serial titles cover major magazines, government reports, and academic journals from China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Selected Statistics on Cataloged Chinese-language Collections *
|Religion, philosophy (Class B-BX)||11,340|
|Early history (DS701 - DS757)||20,220|
|Modern history (DS757 -DS779)||20,070|
|Economics (Class H)||19,080|
|Language and literature (Class PL)||59,760|
|Oversize fine arts, including folios (Class N-NX))||1,732|
|* Note: figures are estimates, and do not include pre-twentieth century publications.|
The Chinese-language collection covers virtually all subjects of value to scholarship. Overall, the collection is comprised of works 40% in the humanities, 40% in the social sciences, and 20% in general works, science and technology, bibliography, etc.
The Library has the largest and most comprehensive coverage of Chinese-language materials on China in the Western Hemisphere. In addition, the Library has a rich collection of materials in English, German, French, Russian, Japanese and other languages which support Chinese Studies. Especially strong are fields such as Chinese history, politics and government, philosophy and literature. For other special format materials, the Library has rare, old Chinese maps in the Geography and Map Division; many unique and rare Chinese photographs and fine prints in the Prints and Photographs Division; missionary papers, trading house papers, personal diplomatic and military papers in the Manuscript Division.
The Chinese Collection is especially rich in rare items, Chinese local histories, collected writings of individual authors, collectanea, and current works on history, literature, and social sciences. Ts'ung-shu, or collectanea, are a unique publishing tradition in which specific topics or areas of scholarship are collected and published in a form of monographic series; these are not always published consecutively. In addition to books, archival materials, newspapers and magazines, the latest science and technology journals and visual materials are collected.
- Chinese Rare Book Collection: approximately 2,000 titles. This features 11 Sung (960-1279 C.E.), 1 Chin (1115-1234), 14 Yuan (1270-1368), 1,518 Ming (1368-1644), and 70 early Ch'ing period (1644-1795) imprints; plus 140 manuscripts and 93 miscellaneous items.
- Chinese Local Histories: 4,000 titles in 60,000 volumes. Many of the titles were printed in the Ch'ing period (1644-1912 C.E.), and holdings are especially strong on provinces such as Hopei, Shantung, Kiangsu and Szechuan. More than 100 titles are extremely rare.
- Manchu Collection: 400 titles. This extensive collection covers the fields of language and literature, philosophy, religion, politics and the Chinese classics, etc. It includes 45 manuscript items and 114 titles of the (Edward) Barrett collection. "A Catalogue of the Manchu Books in the Library of Congress," by Jun Matsumura, in the Toyo Gakuho, vol. 57, nos. 1-2 (January 1976), contains essential bibliographical information about this collection.
- Mongolian Collection. The Library has 80 unique Mongolian classical works (3 manuscripts and 77 xylographs) which have been classified into such categories as: Canonical works, ritual and devotional works, philosophy, biography, history, language, medicine, and collectanea, etc. "A Description of the Mongolian Manuscripts and Xylographs in Washington, D.C.," by David M. Farquhar in the Central Asiatic Journal, vol. 1, no. 3 (1955), contains further information about this collection.
- Moso Collection: 3,000 volumes. These Moso (or Nashi, a northwest Yunnan tribe) pictograph books, acquired by Joseph F. Rock and Quentin Roosevelt between 1924 and 1945, mostly deal with sorcery and religious subjects. An analysis of the collection has been made by Li Lin-ts'an in "A Primary Report and Study of the Mo- so Manuscripts in the Library of Congress," published in the Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, No. 6 (Autumn 1958). The Library's Moso collection is one of the largest in the world.
The Chinese Collection has extensive and noteworthy holdings of microfilm materials, including over 600 monograph entries, 400 periodicals and 150 newspapers in approximately 16,000 reels/sheets. The monograph holdings include about 2,800 titles of rare works. A feature of the newspaper holdings, for example, is the entire 44 volume run of Tung Fang Tsa Chih (Eastern Miscellany), published in Shanghai between 1904 and 1948. The Section is planning to compile a comprehensive bibliography of Chinese microfilms in the future.
The serial collection can be strengthened by filling in gaps of missing issues. Acquisition of additional important ts'ung-shu (collectanea) publications would also strengthen the collection. As the PRC modernizes, scientific, technical, and business publications become more important and need to be acquired on a more systematic basis.