North America - U.S.A.

Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University -- Phase1 --


Library Home Page: Japanese Collection


2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138


Kuniko Yamada McVey
Librarian for the Japanese Collection
Tel: +1 617-495-3395
Fax: +1 617-496-4992

Annie Wang (in charge of access)
Library Assistant for Special Collections
Tel: +1 617-495-8230
Fax: +1 617-496-6008

Size of collection

Books & manuscripts: 3,974 titles; 15,555 volumes
Single-sheet items: 1,515 sheets
Scrolls: 503 rolls (including Petzold 424 scrolls)

Collection description

Almost all materials in the collection are published, or produced before 1868. Petzold Buddhist collection shares about 20 % of books and manuscripts, and most of scrolls including one of oldest manuscripts in the collection dated in 14th century. Not only Chinese classics and Japanese literary works are well represented but also books for common readers such as Edo popular literature, illustrated books, practical guide books in wide range of subjects and maps are found in the collection.

Access to bibliographic data

A)Online catalogues
OPAC: Hollis

B)Printed catalogues
Harvard-Yenchinbg Library. ハーバード燕京図書館和書目錄 = Early Japanese books at Harvard-Yenching Library, Oka Masahiko, Aoki Toshiyuki (Tōkyō : Yumani Shobō. 1994).
Harvard-Yenching Library. ハーバード燕京図書館の日本古典籍 = Japanese Rare Books in Harvard-Yenching Library with supplementary catalog. Suzuki Jun and Kuniko Yamada McVey (Tōkyō : Yagi Shoten, 2008).

How can researchers gain access to the material?

All patrons wishing to use the library's rare book collection must register for a Special Collections Request Account and place requests through the system. Patrons who are not currently affiliated with Harvard University or who do not hold a Special Borrower Card will need to visit the Library Privileges Office at Widener Library after registering online to obtain a Harvard College Library Special Collections Card. Patrons are required to present a valid Harvard ID, HCL Special Borrower Card, or HCL Special Collections Card at the library in order to use materials. For more information see Access to Special Collections. The Rare books reading room opens Monday through Friday from 9:30am - noon, 1:30pm - 4pm. Admittance policy and related information are available at the library web site.

Select bibliography of publications about the collections (books, articles)

  • Harold Bolitho, “Tokugawa Japan’s Tourist Revolution” in Harvard-Yenching Library, Treasures of the Yenching: seventy-fifth anniversary of the Harvard-Yenching Library (Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University, 2003), pp. 31-54.
  • John Rosenfield and Fumiko Cranston, “The Bruno Petzold Collection of Buddhist and Shinto Scrolls” in Treasures of the Yenching, pp. 219-260.
  • Harvard-Yenching Library. ハーバード燕京図書館の日本古典籍 = Japanese Rare Books in Harvard-Yenching Library with supplementary catalog. Suzuki Jun and Kuniko Yamada McVey ed. (Tōkyō : Yagi Shoten, 2008) The volume features five essays on the collection.

Is reproduction of the material permitted ?

Readers are allowed to take digital photographs of the library materials with own camera for personal research purpose. For publications in all formats, readers are required to get permissions from bibliographers. In many cases when its condition allows, readers are referred to Harvard’s Imaging Services that offers full range of reproduction services with fee.

Digitized materials