Chinese Rare Books and Special Collections: Home

Chinese rare books and special collections in C.V. Starr East Asian Library and other libraries


Most of the rare books and special collections at Starr East Asian Library are Chinese-language rare books and other special materials. Chinese rare books and special collections at the library include all types of materials particularly books on family histories, local histories, legal histories, individual collected (literary) works among others. Special collections include papers of China-related organizations and personalities especially those from the Republican Period, and very rare materials such as oracle bones and jade book, etc.

Materials and documents on Qing and modern China constitute a very significant portion of the collections. A great number of materials are unique items held nowhere but at Columbia.

The post-1949 collections include Cultural Revolution Propaganda Art, the Collection of China's Spring 1989 Democracy Movement, and most of the Ephemera Collection on Chinese Science, Technology, Law, and Society, etc.

The library also has many other very rare and special collections, such as Oracle bones, which have been digitized in collaboration with Zhejiang University and made available to public, a very rare set of jade book in both Manchu and Chinese languages, of which the texts have been digitized, and artwork and objects to be fully processed and cataloged.

Other libraries at Columbia such as Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Burke Library at Union Theological Seminary and Gottesman Libraries at Teachers College also hold collections of China-related special materials.

Rare Book Catalogs and Bibliographies

There are numerous print catalogs and bibliographies, of international, national, provincial/city, or institutional scope, or by dynasty or time period, or by genre, etc., could be used to identify the essential information of Chinese rare books.

Examples of comprehensive print catalogs and bibliographies include the following:

  • Meiguo jia pu xue hui Zhongguo zu pu mu lu = Chinese genealogies at the Genealogical Society of Utah : an annotated bibliography
    美國家譜學會中國族譜目錄 = Chinese genealogies at the Genealogical Society of Utah : an annotated bibliography
    Z5319 .T44 1983
  • Zhongguo di fang zhi lian he mu lu (It is included in the online searchable database 中國大陸地方志書目查詢系統)
    REF Z3107.A2 C93
  • Zhongguo gu ji shan ben zong mu
    Z1029 .Z496 2005
  • Zhongguo gu ji shan ben zong mu
    Z1029 .Z496 2005
  • Zhongguo jia pu zong he mu lu
    Z5134 .C46 1997
  • Zhongguo shan ben shu ti yao
    REF Z1029.W36 1983
  • Zhongguo shan ben shu ti yao bu bian
    REF Z1029.W36 1983 Suppl

Users often ask for Columbia's print catalog, bibliography or title list of Chinese rare books and special collections in a book format. Unfortunately, a general catalog, bibliography or title list in a book format has not been compiled due to a variety of reasons. Thus, CLIO or Worldcat has to be used, particularly for relatively updated, accurate information of rare books and special collections.

Chinese Studies

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Chengzhi Wang
C.V. Starr East Asian Library
212 854 3721