Divinity library acquires Chinese Christianity collection

More than half of the collection of the Divinity School Library, located in the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, consists of material published outside of North America.
More than half of the collection of the Divinity School Library, located in the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle, consists of material published outside of North America. Photo by Sharon Yin.

The University Library announced last Wednesday a collaboration between the Divinity School Library and the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) to preserve contemporary collections of Chinese Christian materials.

The new agreement allows the Divinity Library and HKBU to select materials documenting the history and practice of Chinese Christianity. The project, which is funded by the Divinity Library’s Kenneth Scott Latourette Initiative for the Documentation of World Christianity, aims to increase knowledge of how Christianity is practiced in China among religious organizations, library administrators said.

“HKBU is an excellent partner for us because of its library’s rich special collections focused on the history of Christianity in China,” University Librarian Susan Gibbons said.

In the new partnership, HKBU library staff will identify potential projects and send specific proposals to the Divinity School Library, said Paul Stuehrenberg, a Divinity School professor who works at the school’s library. The first proposal will create a microfilm collection of publications by the Chinese Christian Literature Council to be stored at the Divinity Library, he said, adding that library administrators are currently reviewing the proposal. Though the funding will vary depending on each individual proposal, library administrators “anticipate that the agreement will be ongoing,” Stuehrenberg said.

Materials included in other proposal could include books, periodicals, reports, archives and personal papers, according to a Yale University Library press release.

To help with the documentation of contemporary Asian Christianity, Stuehrenberg said library administrators plan to hire a new Librarian for Asian Christianity. Stuehrenberg added that he hopes the Library will be able to make an appointment by the end of the summer, Stuehrenberg added.

Amanda Patrick, director of communications for the Yale University Library, said the collection will make “invaluable primary source material” for the study of Chinese Christianity more accessible to researchers at Yale. Chloe Starr, an assistant professor of Asian Christianity at the Divinity School, said she currently buys her own research books and looks forward to the Divinity School Library’s expanded Chinese holdings so that she can reduce shipping costs and save time.

The project builds on seven years of collaborations between the two universities. In 2005, they worked together to improve the documentation of Asian Christianity at Trinity Theological College in Singapore, and most recently they digitized Hong Kong denominational periodicals in 2011.

Library administrators said the new project will add to an already expansive collection of materials on Chinese Christianity, particularly materials dating from before 1950, Stuehrenberg said. He added that researchers from China “regularly” come to New Haven to use the Divinity Library’s collections since the Library holds materials unavailable in China.

“We have one of the best mission archives in the world here at Yale, but collaborating with libraries and centres that have Chinese language archives of unique or rare texts will benefit us, the host institution and wider scholarship,” Starr said.

HKBU was founded in 1956 and has three campuses in Hong Kong.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    I hope the collection comes with hand-sanitizer for Christians to cleanse themselves of the guilt of patronizing proselytizing, aka “converting” the unwashed heathen .

    Christianity ought to be ashamed of its role in China, not celebrating it.

    Paul D. Keane

    M. Div. ’80

    M.A., M.Ed.