Frances Wood


Collection development, Libraries


In 1941, just before World War II began, some 30,000 volumes of rare books were shipped from China to the United States for safekeeping and microfilming. This was an important event in the history of Sino-American cultural relations and also for international sharing of Chinese rare resources, yet very few people know the story of how these rarities were able to cross the Pacific Ocean during a time of world crisis. Twenty-six years later, I recalled this incident in an article in memory of the late Dr. T. L. Yuan revealing how Irisked my life in order to accomplish this difficult mission.1 In that account, I mentioned how an accident made this shipment possible and how the last shipment reached the States was a puzzle, since the vessel supposedly carrying it was reported to have been captured by the Japanese navy. Today, over fifty years later, it still remains a mystery.