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East Asian Collections at Duke University Libraries

Overview: Duke has focused its collecting on 19th and 20th century Japan, identifying a few areas of strength - modern art history, Buddhism, women's and labor history, Japan's colonial history, modern literature, manga and anime.

Japanese Databases

Art History

Duke has focused on modern Japanese art history, design, photography and Imperialist connections. Topics include art exhibitions -- Bunten and Nitten --, propaganda such as Front and Nippon and both prewar and postwar photography.

Earthquake and Disasters

Duke has built collections on the Kanto earthquake of 1923 and more recently on the fallout from the earthquake and nuclear disaster of 3.11.  The latter collection includes comics focused on the nuclear disaster.

History of Medicine

In addition to such standard Tokugawa texts as 解體新書, Duke has 63 Edo-era medical manuscript volumes of medical lectures transcribed by students,  the papers of a Methodist missionary, Mary McMillan, which detail her services to the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as her peace activism and a collection of materials related to the effects of the the atomic bombing; see Hachiya Michihiko and Dr. Warner Wells who was a surgical consultant to the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission as well as the Leon S. Adler papers which document the destruction of Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Okinawa.

Japan's colonial experience

Duke has collected widely on issues relating to Japan's colonial experience in Taiwan, Korea, Manchuria and China in Chinese, Japanese and Korean.  Materials include two newspaper databases (the Taiwan Nichinichi shinpō and the Keijo nippō), reprints of overseas editions of the Asahi and the Mainichi newspapers, government documents from the Taiwan Governor General. materials on the comfort women, literature written in Japanese in Taiwan or Korea, Buddhism in Korea in the colonial period and more.

Popular Culture

Japan has collected broadly in popular culture: anime, film, manga, women's magazines and advertising.  The collections complement materials in other languages and in the case of advertising, the John Hartman Center in Rubenstein.


Duke's focus has been on 19th and 20th century Japanese Buddhism.  Notable resources include: Chūgai nippō, Shaji torishirabe ruisan, the collected works of Ikeda Daisaku and other materials related to the Soka gakkai, and the D. T. Suzuki Documentary Project Collection.  The Divinity School library, together with Rubenstein, has collected missionary papers.

Economist Papers

Duke has a strong collection of economists' papers in special collections. Several economists had interests in and/ or experience in Japan: Martin Brofenbrenner served in the Occupation; two Nobel prize winners', Paul Samuelson and Franco Modigliani, as well as Leonard SilkRobert W. Clower, and Juanita Morris Kreps had research interests in Japan. It is possible to search within the finding aids for the collection to identify relevant material.