World’s big­gest li­brary grows with China

In stun­ning de­tail, water­color posters de­tail con­flict be­tween China, Ja­pan in Li­brary of Congress dis­play

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By DONG LESHUO in Wash­ing­ton leshuodong@chi­nadai­

On Sept 16, two days be­fore the 85th an­niver­sary of the “Septem­ber 18 In­ci­dent”, which marked the be­gin­ning of Ja­panese troops’ in­va­sion of north­east China, the Li­brary of Congress web­site pub­lished a blog writ­ten by Yuwu Song, Chi­nese ref­er­ence li­brar­ian with the Asian Divi­sion at the li­brary.

The blog, Posters on the Sino-Ja­panese War of 1937-45 at the Asian Divi­sion, Li­brary of Congress, pre­sented rarely seen water­color posters orig­i­nally cre­ated dur­ing the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s War of Re­sis­tance Against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion.

Mas­sacres and atroc­i­ties were com­mon. The ca­su­al­ties from this dev­as­tat­ing war, last­ing from 1937 to 1945, num­bered 35 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping in a speech he gave at the com­mem­o­ra­tion of 70th an­niver­sary of the end of World War II in Bei­jing last year.

The posters shown by Song’s blog brought the bru­tal­ity of war into to­day’s light.

Jef­frey Wang,

ref­er­ence li­brar­ian at the Asian Divi­sion, Li­brary of Congress

The hand-drawn Die with the En­emy de­picts a Chi­nese pi­lot de­lib­er­ately div­ing into a Ja­panese bomber, a sce­nario that would hap­pen if a Chi­nese plane was hit or ran out of fuel.

An­other poster, NewDragonDance Pa­rade:To­talWar­with­In­ter­na­tional il­lus­trates a Ja­panese mil­i­tarist get­ting bit­ten by a dog and chased by dragon dancers, with rec­og­niz­able char­ac­ters in the crowd look­ing on — such as Un­cle Sam, Charles de Gaulle and Win­ston Churchill — sym­bol­iz­ing the in­ter­na­tional al­liance against Ja­pan.

The poster was do­nated to the Li­brary of Congress by the fam­ily of Nelson Trusler John­son (1887-1954), the US am­bas­sador to the Repub­lic of China from 1935 to 1941, ac­cord­ing to the blog.

Ev­i­dence from a Chi­nese Air Force re­cruit­ing poster sug­gests that some of the posters were trans­ferred to the Li­brary on Oc­to­ber 17, 1944, and were pos­si­bly brought back by Fly­ing Tigers crews or other Amer­i­can mil­i­tary staff as sou­venirs of the Chi­nese Air Force.

Ac­cord­ing to Song, the li­brary’s Chi­nese col­lec­tion contains more than 6,000 items per­tain­ing to the Si­noJa­panese War of 1937-45.

“These posters first came to light in the sum­mer of 2009 when li­brar­i­ans at the Asian Divi­sion ac­ci­den­tally ran into some old WWII news­pa­pers and Chi­nese Air Force pro­pa­ganda ma­te­ri­als in the Chi­nese book stacks,” Song wrote on the blog.

The water­color posters shown in Song’s blog are among the many unique Chi­nese ma­te­ri­als in the li­brary’s Asian col­lec­tion.

And they’re just the tip of the ice­berg of the more than one mil­lion Chinare­lated items housed in the li­brary to­day.

Of­fi­cially es­tab­lished in 1928 and fol­lowed by re­or­ga­ni­za­tions and namechanges over the years, the Asian Divi­sion at the Li­brary of Congress, or Asian Read­ing Room, now holds the largest Chi­nese col­lec­tion out­side of the Chi­nese main­land.

Chi Wang, for­mer head of the li­brary’s Chi­nese sec­tion at LC, wit­nessed the growth of the Chi­nese col­lec­tion from 300,000 to 1,000,000 in his 48 years ca­reer be­fore re­tir­ing in Oc­to­ber 2004.

In 1973, shortly af­ter Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China, pro­posed and ar­ranged then pre­mier Zhou En­lai and US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor Henry Kissinger, of­fi­cials from the Na­tional Li­brary of China vis­ited the Li­brary of Congress, which started the rapid growth of the Chi­nese col­lec­tion, ac­cord­ing to Chi Wang.

As of the end of the 2015 fis­cal year, the Chi­nese col­lec­tion con­sisted of 1,178,304 mono­graphic vol­umes, 20,000 rolls of mi­cro­film that cover 800 en­tries of mono­graphs, 500 pe­ri­od­i­cals, and over 200 news­pa­pers, along within ma­jor full-text elec­tronic data­bases and re­sources made avail­able to pa­trons in the Asian Divi­sion Read­ing Room.

And the col­lec­tion con­tin­ues to grow rapidly, gain­ing in stature as a na­tional as­set in the US as well as one of the prin­ci­pal con­tem­po­rary China col­lec­tions in the world.

“Part of our unique­ness is that some of our col­lec­tion can­not be found any­where else in the world, not even in China (the Chi­nese main­land),” said Jef­fery Wang, ref­er­ence li­brar­ian at the Asian divi­sion, who is from Tai­wan and has been work­ing as a Chi­nese col­lec­tion spe­cial­ist at the li­brary for 12 years. “The Asian divi­sion here served as a shel­ter for some of the rare books.”

“We have more than 5,000 ti­tles of the rare books, books that were pub­lished be­fore 1796,” Wang said. “We also have an­cient ver­sions of var­i­ous chorog­ra­phy, which at­tracted those who want to study Chi­nese lo­cal his­tory.”

The Asian divi­sion also holds 10 per­cent of the ex­ist­ing codices of the one-time world’s largest en­cy­clo­pe­dia, Chi­ne­seMingDy­nasty’sEm­per­orYung Lo’sGreatEn­cy­clo­pe­dia.

The en­cy­clo­pe­dia, com­piled for the em­peror by some 2,000 schol­ars be­tween 1403 and 1407, was the ear­li­est and largest in the his­tory of China. The orig­i­nal was com­pletely de­stroyed dur­ing the fi­nal days of the Ming Dy­nasty (1368-1644), but for­tu­nately a man­u­script copy, made be­tween 1562 and 1567, sur­vived. How­ever, largely de­stroyed by fire in 1900, only a few hun­dred of the orig­i­nal 22,000 vol­umes sur­vived.

With 41 vol­umes col­lected, the li­brary now has the largest hold­ing of the en­cy­clo­pe­dia out­side of China. The Bri­tish Li­brary and the Bodleian Li­brary of the Univer­sity of Ox­ford hold 24 and 19 vol­umes re­spec­tively, ac­cord­ing to David Hel­li­well, cu­ra­tor of the Chi­nese col­lec­tions at the Bodleian Li­brary.

Along with Chi­nese-lan­guage ma­te­ri­als, the col­lec­tion also houses sev­eral thou­sand vol­umes in Manchu, Naxi and other mi­nor­ity lan­guages.

Es­tab­lished in 1800, the Li­brary of Congress is the old­est fed­eral cul­tural in­sti­tu­tion in the United States. The li­brary is not only a re­search li­brary that of­fi­cially serves the Congress but also func­tions as the na­tional li­brary of the US.

The li­brary’s Chi­nese col­lec­tion was started in 1869 when Qing Dy­nasty Em­peror Tongzhi gave the li­brary 10 works in 933 vol­umes of Chi­nese books.

By 1912, the col­lec­tion had grown to 16,900 vol­umes through ac­qui­si­tions, do­na­tions and gifts from no­table di­plo­mats, such as Caleb Cushing and Wil­liam Rock­hill, and gifts from the Chi­nese govern­ment at the con­clu­sion of the Louisiana Ex­po­si­tion of 198 works (in 1965 vol­umes) in 1904.

“Caleb Cushing, also known as Gu Sheng, rep­re­sented the US govern­ment in sign­ing the Sino-Amer­i­can Treaty of Wanghia in 1844, the first diplo­matic agree­ment be­tween China and the US,” Jef­fery Wang said. “He do­nated not only Chi­nese books but also books in lan­guages of the Manchus and the Moslems.”

“An­other no­tice­able donor was Wil­liam Rock­hill, who as a US rep­re­sen­ta­tive signed the Bei­jing Treaty af­ter the end of Boxer Re­bel­lion in 1901,” Jef­fery Wang said. “He was very fond of and in­ter­ested in China, and he col­lected a sig­nif­i­cant amount of books.”

These early ac­qui­si­tions paved the way for the growth of the Chi­nese col­lec­tion.

To­day, nearly 70 per­cent of newly ac­quired ma­te­ri­als are pur­chased through book ven­ders in China, ac­cord­ing to Jef­fery Wang.

The Asian Read­ing Room at the Li­brary of Congress is el­e­gant and spa­cious. Sun­light streams through the half-closed blinds onto the dark-wooden read­ing ta­ble. The smell of books, news­pa­pers and pe­ri­od­i­cals from the wooden shelves cre­ate a fan­tasy come

Part of our unique­ness is that some of our col­lec­tion can­not be found any­where else in the world.”

Thun­der, Thisun­ti­tled­print shows Chi­nese foot sol­diers run­ning af­ter the flee­ing en­emy while shielded by Chi­nese war­planes. The posters are part of 6,000 items per­tain­ing to the war col­lected and pre­served by the Li­brary of Congress’ Chi­nese col­lec­tion. true for book lovers.

“There were barely any read­ers when I started in 1958,” Chi Wang said. “Then thou­sands of read­ers com­ing ev­ery year by the time I left, which was in 2004.”

“The Chi­nese col­lec­tion takes an ac­tive role for re­search on the study of China,” said Jef­fery Wang.

“Chi­nese ma­te­ri­als have been Strive fortheCon­troloftheSkyandGet­theEne­myOut­ofOurTer­ri­tory, ex­ten­sively used by US govern­ment agen­cies, re­search and ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, aca­demic schol­ars and the read­ing pub­lic as well,” Jef­fery Wang said.

“We take an ac­tive role in the de­vel­op­ment of the li­brary’s re­sources for re­search in Chi­nese stud­ies,” Wang added. “Also, our Con­gres­sional Re­search Ser­vice is ded­i­cated to serv­ing Congress, col­lect­ing and trans­lat­ing needed ma­te­ri­als for them. It’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to part­ner with and as­sist them.”

“When staff from the of­fices of Con­gress­man or Sen­a­tors need to write re­ports about China-re­lated top­ics, they some­times turn to us,” Wang said. “And we help CRS with trans­la­tion as well.”

Re­searchers who want to con­duct stud­ies at the divi­sion need to be es­tab­lished schol­ars from for­mal aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions. They also need to pro­vide a report ex­plain­ing their stud­ies and pre­pare de­tailed plans and a list of re­quired books.

“The ma­jor­ity of gen­eral pub­lic who come to the Asian Read­ing Room are Chi­nese or Chi­nese Amer­i­cans,” Wang said. “In a lot of the cases, they read mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary books, such as San­mao’s nov­els.”

Al­though books from the li­brary can­not be checked out, read­ers are al­ways wel­comed to go to the read­ing rooms to read.

“I think learn­ing Chi­nese is the first step to be­ing able to dig into Chi­nese cul­ture,” Wang said. “We may not teach the read­ers a whole lot about Chi­nese cul­ture, but we do in­ter­est them some­times. Some of them might start learn­ing Chi­nese from there.” Yuan Yuan con­trib­uted to this story.


One­ofther­arel­y­seen hand-drawn water­color posters orig­i­nally cre­ated dur­ing the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion, shows a group of fighter jets fly­ing over China and the South China Sea with an ea­gle in the back­ground, which could ex­em­plify speed and power. The posters are part of 6000 items per­tain­ing to the war col­lected and pre­served by the Li­brary of Congress’ Chi­nese col­lec­tion. TheYearof1943 de­lin­eates a bug­like Ja­panese plane run­ning up against a stone wall, a sym­bol of for­ti­fied Chi­nese de­fense, and out­lin­ing a large hand reach­ing down to seize a downed en­emy plane with the Ja­panese pi­lot bail­ing out, are part of 6,000 items per­tain­ing to the war col­lected and pre­served by the Li­brary of Congress’ Chi­nese col­lec­tion.


Diewith­theEnemy,Di ithth E a h hand-drawndd postert de­pictsd i t a Chi­ne­seChi pi­lotil td de­lib­er­ate­lylib t l di divingi i in­tot a J Ja­panese b bomber,b a sce­nar­ioi th thatt couldld h hap­pen if a Chi­nese plane was hit or ran out of fuel.


The Asian Divi­sion Read­ing Room of the Li­brary of Congress is now one of the largest Chi­nese col­lec­tion out­side of China with more than 11 mil­lion vol­umes of books and over 2 mil­lion jour­nal is­sues. The Chi­nese col­lec­tion be­gan to de­velop when Em­peror Tongzhi gave 10 works in 933 vol­umes to the li­brary in 1869.


NewDragonDancePa­rade:To­talWar­with­In­ter­na­tion­alAs­sis­tance is a poster il­lus­trat­ing a Ja­panese mil­i­tarist be­ing bit­ten by a dog and chased by dragon dancers, with rec­og­niz­able char­ac­ters in the crowds look­ing on — such as Un­cle Sam (United States), Charles de Gaulle (France) and Win­ston Churchill (Great Bri­tain) — to sym­bol­ize the in­ter­na­tional al­liance against Ja­pan.

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