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Joseph Needham

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in China (SCC)

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East Asian History of Science Library


THE LIBRARY HAS ITS ORIGINS in the collections assembled from 1937 onwards by Joseph Needham and Lu Gwei-Djen, from sources both in China and the Western world. It was originally intended for the furtherance of the researches on which the Science and Civilisation in China (SCC) project is based. No other collection of the kind exists in the Western world, offering such an unique mixture of primary and secondary works in Chinese, English, Korean, Japanese and other languages on the history of traditional East Asian science, technology and medicine. Besides the holdings of books, microfilms, periodicals, offprints and manuscripts, it also contains a large quantity of archival and iconographic material in the form of letters, notes, photographs, maps, etc. which will be of singular benefit to future research in these fields.

MANY OF THE LIBRARY'S BOOKS are rare, especially in the West, collected by Dr. Needham on his frequent visits to China and through his extensive contacts there. The collection as a whole reflects his varied interests and the manner in which he worked, moving from subject to subject as he wrote SCC, and thus the primary focus is currently on the history of science, technology and medicine in pre-modern China.  Since the early 1990's the core areas of the collection have been strenthened with many new purchases of recent Chinese publications, and though all areas of the history of Chinese ST&M are covered, it is particularly strong on the history of Chinese mathematics, astronomy, medicine and archaeology. These are supported by a useful general sinological collection. The Library also has a modest collection of several hundred traditional Chinese thread-bound books, with some old and rare editions. With interest growing in the history of ST&M in modern China in recent years, we have also begun actively collecting materials in that area.

COVERAGE OF THE HISTORY of ST&M in other parts of East Asia, such as Korea and Japan, has not been so extensive, and we are endeavouring to develop these parts of the collection as quickly as available funds and the generosity of donors will allow. We are delighted that, to this end, recent donations have greatly enhanced the Korean collection .  


THE LIBRARY IS OPEN from 10.00 to 16.30 on weekdays. Visits are by appointment only. Books may only be consulted in the Library, and are not borrowable under any circumstances.

To enquire about using the Library, please contact the Librarian, John P.C. Moffett, at the address on  the home page, or by e-mail to: John.Moffett[put the "at" sign here]nri.cam.ac.uk

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