Guide to the Research Collections



The holdings on the history of Asia are adequate. Estimated at 13,000 volumes in 1941, the holdings in the general collections presently total more than 30,000 volumes. There are, in addition, several thousand volumes on Asian history in the Oriental Division and a number in Cyrillic script in the Slavonic Division. An historically fascinating and rare collection of books and periodicals in Western-Turkistinian languages documents the social, cultural, and economic history of Central Asia, primarily from 1914 on.7 These holdings are supplemented by the publications of learned societies and institutions and by the extensive collections of public documents in the Economic and Public Affairs Division.

The Oriental Division catalog contains entries for not only the works in the Oriental Division but also for material relating to the Orient shelved in other parts of the library. The Oriental Division catalog emphasizes geographic regions: here, for example, the form for subject entries is "India--Economic History," whereas the Public Catalog uses the form "Economic History--India." Books in Oriental languages or translated directly from Oriental languages are generally arranged by language in the catalog and then subdivided by broad topics; consequently books in Chinese or in direct translation dealing with history are entered under the subject heading "Chinese Literature--History" (such a heading covers books in Chinese or in direct translation not only on Chinese history, but also those dealing with topics such as European or American history). Similarly, books in Arabic or in direct translation on the social sciences would be entered under "Arabic Literature--Social Sciences."

Public Documents

The holdings of government gazettes, particularly for India and the East Asian countries, are generally good. The Gazette of India commences in 1912 and similarly extensive files are found for the official gazettes of the Indian states of Bihar, Orissa, Madras, Bengal, the United Provinces of Agra, and Oudh, among others. Certain countries are represented by files spanning both their colonial and independent periods: the gazette for Vietnam is available under its different names from 1889, that for the Philippines from 1902, and for Malaysia from 1909; the gazettes of Hong Kong and Macao are available from 1909 and 1930 respectively. There are sparse holdings for Japan and China; the Korean official gazette is among recent acquisitions. The gazettes of Near Eastern countries are sparsely represented, with the exception of the United Arab Republic (Egypt) and Turkey, for which there are extensive files from 1834 to the present. These gazettes and others are included in the library's Gazettes Microfilming Project; most holdings for the past ten years are available for sale on film.

National documents from Asia show the same variety of coverage with a better representation for India and East Asian countries than for those of the Near East. The figures given here represent serial documents of a political, sociological, or economic nature received in the Economic and Public Affairs Division; other more specialized documents are located in the subject collections of the library and have not been included in the count. The library also receives the monographic publications of government agencies.

Among more than 100 Indian serial titles currently received in the Economic and Public Affairs Division are the debates of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha (the preceding Parliamentary

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debates dating from 1950 are also in the collections). The library receives the legislative council and assembly debates and other material, both historical and current, of a number of the Indian states. Except for isolated runs and certain individual titles little else is received from the provinces or municipalities of Asia. Some 30 titles are received from Japan and the Philippines, including the Congressional Record of the Philippines, which with its predecessors is available from 1926; 40 titles are received from Indonesia and 20 from Korea. Iran, Iraq, and Turkey are represented by no more than 5 titles each; 15 are received from the United Arab Republic. Israel is well represented by documents at both the national and municipal levels; the Economic and Public Affairs Division houses those publications in English (presently numbering about 15 titles) and those in Hebrew are the responsibility of the Jewish Division. Among them are the proceedings of the Knesset and the government gazette.

The Near East

The extensive archaeological resources in the Oriental Division for the study of ancient Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia are discussed in chapter 45 of this Guide. Remarkable acquisitions of classical Arabic literature in the period before 1930 made the division an outstanding center of study.8 The manuscript materials purchased at that time are for the most part philological, legal, or medical, rather than historical. There are editions of the great Arabic historians such as al-Tabar[imacr ] and al-Mas[umacr ]d[imacr ]. The works of al-Makkar[imacr ] and other historians of Moorish Spain are supplemented by those of Arabists such as Reinhart Dozy. Persian historians are adequately represented, as are those of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire;9 a standard work in the field is Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall's Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches (1827-35). A fuller discussion of the holdings for the study of Turkey is found in the section on the history of other European countries in chapter 49.

The library is fortunate in possessing two copies of the rare subscriber's edition of T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926). The copy in the Rare Book Division is bound in violet morocco; the copy in the Arents Tobacco Collection belonged to Mrs. George Bernard Shaw, and contains an unpublished critique by George Bernard Shaw. Among the papers presented to the library by Mrs. Thomas F. Burgess in 1939 are two series of letters written during the years 1827 to 1855 by the brothers Charles and Edward Burgess from Persia and the Near East.10

The history of the Jewish people in Palestine, of Zionism, and of the growth of the modern state of Israel are documented by the resources of the Jewish Division.


Chinese history, covered by some 5,300 volumes, is one of the strongest features of the Oriental history collection. Histories in the Chinese language (approximately 1,500 volumes) are housed in the Oriental Division; a smaller group of histories in the Cyrillic alphabet are found in the Slavonic Division; the major holdings in western European languages are in the general collections, located under Public Catalog headings such as "China-History-Invasion, 1931-1933."

Histories in the Chinese language include the Erh-Shih-Wu Shih (Taipei, 1955-56) in a complete set, as well as other editions of individual works from the set with translations. Another source work, Kuang Ssu-ma's Tzu-chih t'ung chien ("Mirror of history") is available in its original form and in translations, including that by de Mailla made in the eighteenth century. The Man-chou shih lu in three languages (Manchu, Mongol, and Chinese) documents the Ch'ing dynasty.11 A set of 24 pamphlets issued at Nanking by the Chinese insurgents (1852-61) relates to the Taiping Rebellion.

Histories and historical materials in other languages include the standard reference works in editions published from the sixteenth century onward, among them works such as Memoires concernant l'histoire.... des Chinois (1776-1814) and Otto Franke's Geschichte des chinesischen Reiches (1930-52). The political development of China from the beginning of this century is well covered; in addition to books are important reviews such as the North China Herald and directories such as the Directory & Chronicle published by the Hong Kong Daily Press (1879-1941). The strong holdings of Oriental society journals provide supplementary material.

Collections of travels into Central Asia and China are notable, from the earliest accounts of Giovanni di Plano Carpini, Ruy González de Clavijo, and others, through the embassies of Johan Nieuhof and Sir George Staunton, to modern accounts. The Oriental Division has the books of Sven Hedin and Sir Mark Aurel Stein describing their expeditions into Central Asia; Nicholas Roerich is also represented.12 Although most complete for North America, the holdings of "Jesuit Relations" in the Rare Book Division are also strong for China and other countries of the Orient. The division also holds a block book in Chinese and Latin printed in Canton in 1671, entitled Innocentia Victrix, which tells of the clearing of the Jesuit missionaries of charges brought against them by the Chinese government. In the Prints Division is a fine set of engravings by Cochin entitled "Victoires et conquêtes de l'empereur de la Chine" (1767-74).

Among the materials in the Manuscripts and Archives Division are imperial scrolls bestowing honors: the oldest is dated 1661 and grants honors to the mother of a Manchu officer; a later scroll contains parts of the imperial decrees

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for honors bestowed on the Grand Secretary Ortai in 1735 and 1738, and on his son Oyunggan in 1745.13 Other manuscripts include the diary of Charles E. Blue describing incidents of a cruise to China, Loo Choo, and Japan on the U.S. Sloop of War Vandalla (1853-56); although of primary importance as describing Commodore Perry's reception in Japan, the narrative includes descriptions of incidents in Shanghai during the Taiping Rebellion. The correspondence of the Rev. Elihu Doty relates to China during the period from 1847 to 1865.


Works on Japanese history number approximately 2,800 volumes, including such items as editions of the Kojiki and the Nihongi as well as local histories of prefectures, among them those of Fukuoka-ken (Kyushu) and Nagasaki-shi. Standard histories in western European languages are also available. There is a great deal of contemporary material on the Russo-Japanese War, including picture histories and 280 Japanese prints (given in 1904 by Philip Schuyler). Perhaps the most important of the manuscripts relating to Japanese history in the library is the journal and logbook kept by John Redman Coxe Lewis on the expedition of Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in 1854.14 A scroll of watercolor sketches recording the scene on the first day after Perry's arrival at Uraga is in the Spencer Collection.15 Ten letters from Townsend Harris describe his experiences and observations as the first United States diplomatic representative in Japan from 1856 to 1862.16 The Japanese involvement in World War II is represented primarily by Western materials; the library, for example, holds the official records and reports of the war crimes trials in Tokyo.


Monographs concerning Korea may be located in the Oriental Division and Public Catalog under headings such as "Korea--History" and "Korean War." In addition to printed materials, several manuscript collections relate to Korea. The George C. Foulk papers date from 1884 to 1887;17 those of Dr. Horace Newton Allen from 1884 to 1905;18 other manuscripts which cover the activities of the mercantile firm of Frazar & Company in Korea and the Far East during the period 1883-1948 include the personal papers of Everett Frazar, Consul-General to the Kingdom of Korea in the United States.

The Philippine Islands

Historical materials on the Philippine Islands in the general collections are supplemented by related materials in the Spanish and American history classmarks, making this a strong area of the library's resources.19 An example of the latter category is the Elihu Root collection of United States documents relating to the Philippine Islands (1898-1906) in 178 volumes. The holdings of the works of José Rizal contain many rarities. Manuscripts pertaining to the Philippines in the Obadiah Rich collection consist of transcripts, dated about 1800, of histories, descriptions, and accounts of voyages to the Islands, from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Other collections in the Manuscripts and Archives Division include an eighteenth-century Spanish naval logbook, papers relating to the attack on the Philippines by the United States, the War of Independence of 1898 and 1899, and transcripts of the Acts of the Junta de Censura de Imprenta dating from 1866 to 1875.

Southeast Asia

The collection relating to Southeast Asia is, on the whole, strong. The holdings in geography, anthropology, philology, and other subject classes also contribute research materials. Lengthy runs of the publications of learned societies add much to the value of the holdings, among them those of the Ecole Française d'Extrême-Orient and the Bijdragen tot de taal-, land-, en volkenkunde van Nederlandsch-Indië, and others. Colonial documents of countries which have or have had possessions in Asia are important sources of political and historical information; the library has long runs of this documentary material, along with publications of the new states. Diverse materials from Indonesia include the addresses of Presidents Sukarno and Suharto and the decisions of the Madjelis permusjawaratan rakjat sementara. A standing order for Thai publications brings in a great deal of material; little is received from Burma. Items from both North and South Vietnam are received.

India, Pakistan, and Ceylon

As a result of the Research Libraries' participation in the PL-480 Program since 1961, comprehensive collections of current publications from Ceylon, India, Pakistan, and Nepal are being obtained. Among the first published books on the history of India is De Ritu et Moribus Indorum (1480) attributed to the legendary Prester John; also housed in the Rare Book Division are early accounts in the works of Barros, Maffei, Linschoten, and others of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Oriental Division holds the histories of Moslem writers written mostly in Persian, such as the Ain-i Akbar[imacr ] of Abu al Fazl ibn All[amacr ]m[imacr ]. These are available in the original language

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and in translation; histories in English based wholly or in part on these works and shelved with them include Sir Henry M. Elliot's History of India and the Cambridge History of India. Voyages and travels to India are a strong feature of the resources.

British India is particularly well covered in the collections from the eighteenth century onward. In the Hardwicke collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Division are miscellaneous papers dating from 1750 to 1767 relating to the East India Company, including letters of Robert Clive to the directors. Fifty-seven holograph pages by Sir Philip Francis give his views on the government of India. Book materials include items such as the Punjab Record Office Press lists of Old Records in the Punjab Civil Secretariat, 1806-68 (1915-33) and records of Madras from the late seventeenth century onward. Publications of the Archaeological Survey of India and a large group of district gazetteers (principally of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries) are also useful source material. Strong holdings of Indian public documents include a fine representation of state gazettes.

The independence movement in India is represented in the holdings by items such as the publications of the All-India Congress Committee from the 1930s onward; more than 550 entries in the Oriental Division catalog for works by and about Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi include D. Tendulkar's 8-volume Mahatma (1951-54). The Louis Fischer collection in the Manuscripts and Archives Division contains sources used for Fischer's Life of Mahatma Gandhi (1950) along with drafts of that work; 8 letters in the collection are addressed by Gandhi to his family and friends between 1914 and 1947. Since the founding of the Republic the holdings of the library have continued to be enriched with the products of new scholarship.

The history of Pakistan before 1947 is part of Indian history; since that time the library has regularly acquired published materials on the country as they have appeared.

Papers related to Sir Alexander Johnston, Chief Justice of Ceylon, are concerned with the history, government, and customs of that country in the early nineteenth century. These number about 1,000 pages, and include palm-leaf manuscripts with writing in Tamil and Telugu characters.