Starr Library Receives Esther Haviland Books


The C. V. Starr East Asian Library has recently received a collection of Chinese archaeological and philological books from Ms. Stephanie Farrior. This gift of 200 titles in 600 volumes, mostly in ancient thread-bound style, systematically covers oracle bones from the Shang Dynasty (1700-1207B.C.) the earliest writings in Chinese history, and bronze inscriptions, the next stage of Chinese writing, as well as their modern Chinese translations.

The books belonged to Ms. Farrior's mother, Esther Haviland (1921-1996), who, after earning her B.A. from Swarthmore, earned her M.A. from Columbia in Chinese studies, and completed the coursework for her Ph.D. under Prof. Carrington Goodrich. She moved to China in 1947 to continue her studies at Tsinghua University, where she worked with Prof. Chen Meng-chia, a leading Chinese poet and archaeologist, focusing on oracle bones and bronze inscriptions. She received a Fulbright the following year when Fulbrights were first awarded. She left China in 1950, when she was no longer able to conduct her field work.

The collection also includes the excavation seal of "Xioatun", a village where systematic excavations and serious search for oracle bones were conducted in the 1920s. Esther Haviland books are a wonderful addition to Starr Library's collection, which boasts a strong collection of original oracle bones as well as archaeological and philological materials. A small selection of these materials is now on view in the display cases in the reading room, near the entrance.

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