“Just the Right Time to Make Such a Collection”: Building a Japanese Research Library at Yale in the 1870s

Grey horizontal scroll with rows of Japanese characters in black calligraphy ink


Thursday, September 14, 2023 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Sterling Memorial Library, Lecture Hall
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Open to: 
Beginning in the fall of 1875, Yale Library accessioned more than 3,000 woodblock-printed Japanese volumes across a wide range of fields and genres—the first collection of its kind in the United States. 
This talk details the involvement of several Yale faculty members, including Addison Van Name, O. C. Marsh, and J. Willard Gibbs, in initiating and funding this undertaking. It also explores the key role played by a group of Japanese students who lived in New Haven in the early 1870s in assembling the collection, shipping it halfway around the world, and cataloging its contents. 
The talk also introduces a group of manuscripts related to the purchases that afford a valuable window onto the Japanese book market in the tumultuous decade immediately following the Meiji Restoration. 
This event is part of the series 150 Years of Collecting Japanese Materials at Yale. A workshop will take place at Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library on Sept. 15. See calendar listing.