楊柳青年畫 ( New Year Woodblock Prints of Yangliuqing)

The Asian Library at The Claremont Colleges Library holds two sets of original 楊柳青年畫 (New Year Woodblock Prints of Yangliuqing). These prints were first produced by 天津榮寶齋 (Rongbao Studio in Tianjin) in the early 1960s. A search in WorldCat (union catalog for libraries in the United States and other countries) indicates that the two sets held in the Asian Library are not available at any other libraries in the United States. The two sets, each consisting of 12 new year paintings printed with woodblock and manually colored, are on display in the Asian Library, 3rd floor of Honnold Library, until February 28, 2022.

The new year woodblock prints of Yangliuqing are well-known Chinese folk paintings. They originated during the reign of Emperor Chongzhen (崇禎) in the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD) in Yangliuqing, a suburban village near Tianjin City, China.  Linked to Chinese folk customs and daily life, the prints are popular ornaments used to adorn doors and rooms during the Spring Festival (春節) in China, expressing good wishes for the new year. They cover a wide range of themes, all aiming to convey messages of good luck, a festive atmosphere, and praise of traditional Chinese virtues and worship of gods, especially those of fortune, prosperity, and longevity.

新春大喜 Xin Chun Da Xi
(Happy Spring)
The painting portrays the coming of the Spring and the best wishes for abundant harvests throughout the year, with good weather and strong cattle. The character the boy holds is 春 Spring.

Babies are a popular theme in the paintings because for centuries Chinese people believed that more children would bring more blessings and greater happiness. A recurring image is the cherubic baby holding a lotus flower while clutching a big fish. In Chinese, the word “lotus” sounds similar to “consecutive, repeatedly, or one after another”,  and fish is a homophone of “surplus” so together they imply a wish for “prosperity year after year (連年有餘).”

連年有 餘 Lian Nian You Yu
(Having surplus year after year)

Other homophones and symbolic objects include Bat 蝠, pronounced as “fu”, homophone of 福 fu, meaning Fortune; Fan 扇, pronounced as “shan”, homophone of 善 shan, meaning Kindness; Orange 桔, pronounced as “ju”, homophone of 吉ji, meaning Luck; Chime磬, pronounced as “qing”, homophone of 慶qing, meaning Celebration.

福善吉慶 Fu Shan Ji Qing
(Fortune, kindness, luck, and celebration)

2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Tigers symbolize energy and dynamics. The Chinese character for Tiger 虎 is pronounced “Hu”, similar to the character for “福 fu” which means both fortunes and happiness. So the year of the tiger also symbolizes a year of fortune and happiness. May the year 2022 be full of good fortunes and positive energies for all of us.

Happy Year of the Tiger!

虎年快樂,諸事如意!

The Ch’en Shou-yi Papers 陳受頤檔案

The Ch’en Shou-yi Papers consists of Prof. Ch’en Shou-yi’s correspondences, photos, private library collections, work notes, manuscripts, etc. donated to the Claremont Colleges Library by his family after he passed away. This valuable archival collection is now housed in the Special Collection Room of the Asian Library at the Claremont Colleges Library.
The library is in the process of sorting and archiving the Ch’en Shou-yi Papers, and creating a Chinese-English bi-lingual finding aid to this massive and valuable archival collection.Currently, the correspondences and photos in the Ch’en Shou-yi Papers have been sorted and digitized through the joint effort and collaboration between the Claremont Colleges Library, the Academia Sinica Center for Digital Cultures, and the Institute of Taiwan History of Academia Sinica (ITH). This digital collection of the Ch’en Shou-yi Papers highlights his connections and correspondence with key figures of modern Chinese intellectual history, such as Hu Shih (胡适),Fu Sinian ( 傅斯年),Lin Yutang (林語堂),Chiang Monlin( 蔣夢麟),as well as a few precious first-hand documents including papers, photographs, and manuscripts. Materials in this collection are dated approximately between 1930s and 1970s.
Photo of honorary doctoral degree certificate conferred to Hu Shih by the California College in China, 1942:
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For more information on the contents and scope of the digitized photos and correspondence in the Ch’en Shou-yi Papers, please visit the 陳受頤文書 digital portal created by the Institute of Taiwan History of Academia Sinica. The original materials and items are owned and kept at the Claremont Colleges Library. Image print and the use of the originals are by permission only from the Claremont Colleges Library.

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Scenes from Rural China–Papermaking

From the papers of Marjorie Rankin Steurt held in Special Collections are numerous photographs taken by Mrs. Steurt while she served as a missionary and educator in China during the 1920s-1930s. Her diaries, too, are full of keen descriptions of the everyday lives of the Chinese people to whom she was deeply devoted. This photo of a man working with newly handmade paper is just one example.
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Marjorie Rankin was born in Pennsylvania in 1888 to evangelical Protestant parents. She received a BA from Mt. Holyoke College in 1911 and later received an MA and PhD from Columbia University. Her first teaching position was in 1911 in a rural school for African Americans in Alabama. In 1912, she traveled to China as a missionary and teacher at the Christian college in Weihsien. From 1926-1927 she moved on to Cheeloo University in Tsinanfu, the capital of Shentung. In 1929 she became the director of an experimental school in Nankai, in Tientsin; when the university was destroyed by the Japanese in 1932 , she moved back to the United States and taught psychology at a college in New York for many years.
Mrs. Steurt was interviewed in 1970 about her life and career in China, and the transcript of her oral history is available to read in Special Collections: Call number XC 14 OR24 ST46. She gave to us her papers shortly thereafter. The finding aid to her papers, and those of other American missionaries in China that are in our Special Collections, can be found on the web at the Online Archive of California. http://tinyurl.com/34euqpe

Giant swing in Weihsien, China, April 1917

Marjorie Rankin Steurt took this photograph of a giant swing built outside the walls of the city of Weihsien, China, in April 1917.
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Mrs. Steurt’s diary entry about the swing from April 4th, 1917:
steurt diary swing closeup
Marjorie Rankin was born in Pennsylvania in 1888 to evangelical Protestant parents. She received a BA from Mt. Holyoke College in 1911 and later received an MA and PhD from Columbia University. Her first teaching position was in 1911 in a rural school for African Americans in Alabama. In 1912, she traveled to China as a missionary and teacher at the Christian college in Weihsien. From 1926-1927 she moved on to Cheeloo University in Tsinanfu, the capital of Shentung. In 1929 she became the director of an experimental school in Nankai, in Tientsin; when the university was destroyed by the Japanese in 1932 , she moved back to the United States for good.
Mrs. Steurt was interviewed in 1970 about her life and career in China, and the transcript of her oral history is available to read in Special Collections: Call number XC 14 OR24 ST46. She gave to us her papers shortly thereafter. The finding aid to her papers, and those of other American missionaries in China that are in our Special Collections, can be found on the web at the Online Archive of California. http://tiny.cc/12thW