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Harvard University: Harvard-Yenching Library

General Information

Harvard-Yenching Library
2 Divinity Avenue
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA 02138 USA
Email: (Replace # with @) 
About the Library:

The Harvard-Yenching library, established in 1928 by the Yenching Institute, holds over a million volumes of books in East Asian languages including in three primary languages: Chinese, Japanese,and Korean. Early Japanese colection came from Anesaki Masaharu and Hattori Unokichi when they taught at Harvard in 1914-1916 as svisiting professors. In 1976 the Harvard-Yenching Institute, an independent institution, transfered the Harvard-Yenching Library to the Harvard College Library.

For more information about the Japanese Collection, please contact Kuniko Yamada McVey at 617-495-3395 or via e-mail.

Collection finding aids

A database of all newspapers held by the Harvard-Yenching Library, including over 90 Japanese-language serials. 

This guide to the library's archives includes a list of collections, as well as online finding aids when available.

A list of Japanese prints, including images, held by the Harvard-Yenching Library.


Japan related resources outside of Yenching Library

A site listing geospatial information for China and Japan. Launched in 2001, the project aimed to establish a database of populated places and historical units between 221BCE and 1911CE. Data can be downloaded from the website or obtained on CD.

A collection of GIS data accessed through an interactive map similar to Google Maps. Accessible and downloadable data includes information on East Asia and Japan in particular.

A collection of GIS data relating to the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake (2011年東日本大震災)compiled by Lex Berman with the Reischauer Institute for Japanese Studies for the Japan Digital Archive. JapanMap allows for map overlays of information for different resources, including utilities & infrastructure, place locations, bodies of water, building footprints, shelter and blackout locations, radiation levels, and more.

Similar to JapanMap, the G. W. Skinner Maps include geospatial information regarding Japan and China, primarily from the 19th century, located on an interactive map interface. The data sets used to create the G. W. Skinner Maps webpage, including GIS layers and tabular data, are available for download at the Skinner Regional Systems Analysis Dataverse.

Summary of Japanese Collection

Collection Size and scope:  As of January 2014 the Harvard-Yenching Collection included more than 2.5 million items, and Japanese materials include over 340,000 volumes of monographs and over 1,000 titles of serials. The Japanese collection provides comprehensive coverage of Humanities and Social Sciences in all formats.

Notable collections:

  • Petzold Buddhist collection: 6,500 volumes, including a number of books published in the Edo period (1600–1867), some 200 manuscripts dating from the 14th century, and 424 scrolls.
  • Rare book collection: 3974 titles in 15,555 volumes, 1515 sheets, and 79 scrolls (excluding Petsold scrolls). Primarily wood block print books prior to 1868 including Buddhist texts, maps, literature, and popular illustrated fictions, and some practical books such as botany, medicine, cooking, and falconry.
  • Prange magazine and newspaper collection in microform. Comprehensive collection of Japanese occupation period (1945-49).

Digitized collection

Early Photography of Japan Collection  More than 40 souvenir photograph albums and illustrated publications in the Meiji period (1868-1912). Mostly selected from the E. G. Stillman Japanese Collection.

Petzold Scrolls Collection 
424 scrolls held by Yenching Library's are viewable. Visual finding aid

Taka kuden 鷹口伝

Takaezu 鷹絵図

Todatsu kiko 東韃紀行 

Heso no Yadogae  へそのやどかえ Comic books of the 19th century.

Kankoku Saishuto ryoko nisshi 韓国濟州島旅行日誌 Travel journal from Japan to Korea's Saishuto in the early 20th century.

Yenching Books in Google Books Search

Resources guides

Structured as a research guide for Japanese studies, this includes comprehensive information on digital resources available for studying Japan-related fields, such as the humanities, social sciences, images, maps, and more. This also includes a list of research tools and portals, available Harvard resources, and information on most activities occurring in the East Asian field at Harvard.

A collection of research guides, separate from the Japanese Studies guide mentioned above. These include guides based on specific time periods, regions, and subjects of study.

How to Use the Facility

Using the Library

To use the Harvard-Yenching Library, you must possess a current Harvard ID, an HCL Special Borrower Card or a Visiting Researcher Card.  To apply for access to the library as a visiting researcher, please visit the Library Privileges Office in person. Access to special collections requires an additional application. Please see the websites of individual collections for details.

Please note that all library patrons are subject to the terms of the HCL Patron Agreement.

Materials may also be requested through the interlibrary loan system.

Borrowing Privileges

Borrowing privileges are extended to researchers who hold either a current Harvard ID or the HCL Special Borrower's Card, which can be purchased by Harvard alumni, faculty and staff from other academic institutions, Ph.D. candidates from other institutions, and some affiliates of Harvard research centers. Applications for the HCL Special Borrower's Card should be made in person at the Library Privileges Office. For more information about borrowing at the Harvard-Yenching Library, please see their Borrowing page.

Photocopying and Scanning

Photocopiers are available throughout the Harvard College Libraries. Many of these only accept Crimson Cash, which is preloaded funds on a Harvard ID or Crimson Cash Card, which visiting researchers will be provided with when registering at the Library Privileges Office. Photocopying costs ten cents per page.

Scanners in the libraries are self-service, and designed to copy scanned materials onto a USB flash drive or another computer through FTP, but most will not print or manipulate text or images.

North American Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources
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