China: Culture and Society

Sources from The Wason Pamphlet Collection at Cornell University

Extremely rare pamphlets from the Charles W. Wason Collection on East Asia, Cornell University Library; one of the oldest and most distinctive collections of its kind.

Spanning three centuries, China: Culture and Society provides access to the Wason Pamphlet collection in its entirety. Mostly in English and published between c.1750 and 1929, these rare pamphlets make up one of the most extensive collections of literature on China and the Chinese in the Western world.

As there is no comparable digital project offering this type of material, this project meets the need for English language research sources relating to China and the West, and addresses a wide variety of research interests and topics surrounding Chinese history, religion, culture and everyday life.

Much of the knowledge of China written for consumption by the English-speaking world appeared first in pamphlets written by diplomats, missionaries, merchants, academics, and travellers working in or passing through China, and even by writers observing China from afar. There was hardly a topic that was not the focus of a published pamphlet, including language and literature, games and pastimes, architecture, natural history, opium, foot binding, philosophy, religion and mythology, international relations, and myriad other topics.
Raymond Lum, PhD, Librarian for Western Languages, Harvard University

Key Data

Period Covered

  • Mid-18th to early 20th century

Source Archive

  • The Wason Pamphlet Collection, Cornell University

Material Types

  • Addresses and speeches
  • Annual reports
  • Assessments
  • Catalogues
  • Essays
  • Examinations
  • Guides and manuals
  • Inquiries and studies
  • Journals
  • Lecture notes
  • Letters
  • Magazine articles
  • Meeting minutes
  • Notes and records

Editorial Board

  • Robert Bickers, University of Bristol
  • Sherman Cochran, Cornell University
  • Raymond Lum, Harvard-Yenching Library, Harvard University
  • Liren Zheng, Cornell University


  • The Chinese Diaspora
  • The Foreign Presence in China
  • Foreign Relations and Diplomacy
  • International Conflict and Invasion
  • Governance
  • Missionaries and Christianity
  • Faith and Philosophy
  • Opium: Trade, Consumption, Policy
  • Rebellion and Revolution
  • Language and Writing
  • Arts and Artefacts
  • Bibliographies
  • Education
  • Leisure and Pastimes
  • Literature, Poetry and Folklore
  • The Natural World
  • Science, Medicine and Health
  • Trade, Industry and Commerce
  • Exploration and Travel
  • Transportation and Communication
  • General Histories and Surveys

Key Features

  • The Wason Pamphlet Collection is digitized in its entirety
  • All images are in full colour
  • Chronology
  • Image Gallery
  • ‘Mini Guides’
  • Carefully selected external links
  • Contextual essays


Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers/faculty.

China: Culture and Society. Adam Matthew. Contact publisher for pricing (based on Carnegie Classification and JISC); includes nominal hosting fee, payable every 5 years* [see Publisher's Note below]. Reviewed ......