Roger Sherman


Libraries, United States, Acquisitions, Japan


Not long after World War II came to a close, there was a burgeoning of interest in area studies, which prompted many academic libraries in the United States to embark on extensive acquisitions programs to obtain foreign books for their universities. At the Berkeley campus of the University of California, it was recognized that there was a need on the West Coast for a strong collection of East Asian research materials. This led to the establishment of the East Asiatic Library (EAL) in 1947 as a separate branch on campus. The first few years at the Library were a period of intensive book-buying which called for several "expeditions" to the Far East. In the course of searching for useful items during one such trip to Japan in the fall of 1948, a representative of the East Asiatic Library learned that an extraordinarily large and varied collection of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean books, manuscripts, maps, and rubbings numbering more than 100,000 volumes was being offered for sale by the prominent Mitsui family. In the following pages, I shall briefly recount how EAL came to acquire these materials and present a short overview of the several individual collections the Mitsui Library encompassed.