Yale has a vast collection of over 20,000 volumes of Korean literary works covering a variety of subjects in the humanities and social sciences, with emphasis on history, archaeology, art history, literature and Buddhism dating back to the mid-19th century. Across the university, opportunities to engage with original works of art and primary source materials such as these volumes are woven into Yale coursework, from medical students studying a painting to hone their observation skills to environmental studies majors examining maps and photos to document a changing landscape.
LUX, a recently unveiled new platform, provides access to millions of records for objects, people, places, and events represented in Yale’s rich cultural heritage collections. Visit the LUX website to search collections across Yale’s museaums, archives, and libraries all in one place.
Volumes related to Korea are included in the collections in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (pictured above) and in the East Asia Library. Some highlights of Yale’s Korean collection include those featured below, selected with the help of Yale’s Korean Studies Librarian, Jude Yang.
Yale University Library - Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
The Scripture for Maitreya’s Birth on Earth is a written account that comprises two Maitreya sutras: The Scripture for Maitreya’s Life in Tusita Heaven and The Scripture for Maitreya’s Birth on Earth. The text is transcribed onto indigo-blue paper using silver ink. It is presumed to have taken place towards the end of the Koryŏ Period, around the 14th century.
The Chronicle of the Filial Devotion and Clean Living of the Ŏm Family is a Hangŭl manuscript that serves as a copy of an unknown author’s novel. The central theme of the manuscript revolves around filial piety and is set in the Song dynasty in China. Given the condition of the paper, it is likely that the manuscript was copied during the Hŏnjong era (1834-1849) or the Kwangmu era (1897-1907).
This manuscript presents valuable research material for studying Korean novels and the history of Hangŭl.
Yale University Library - East Asia Library
This series of children’s picture books is published in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), includes both well-known Korean folktales and stories that are unfamiliar to South Korean readers.
This collection is from the publication of the Hunmin chŏngŭm in 1446 at the Chiphyŏnjŏn to the issuance of “Korean Language 1-1” by the Ministry of Education in 1969, a total of 629 old textbooks covering all subjects are available as reference materials. These materials encompass rare classical texts and representative old textbooks that Korean people have utilized as fundamental resources for learning over the span of five centuries. The 629-volume collection is categorized by historical periods as follows: ① Chosŏn Dynasty (66 books), ② Korean Empire era (158 books), ③ Japanese colonial period (123 books), ④ Liberation to Korean War (164 books), and ⑤ Armistice to 1969 (115 books).