National Library of Korea Rare Book Specialists Visit Bryn Mawr

Two Rare Book Specialists from the National Library of Korea spent the day in the Bryn Mawr Special Collections on Wednesday, November 2nd examining and photographing 50 rare Korean books.  Hye-Eun Lee and Ji-Hee Han were spending the week in the United States to work on the Korean collections at Princeton and Bryn Mawr, and were accompanied to Bryn Mawr by Hyoungbae Lee, the Korean Studies Librarian at Princeton.   Bryn Mawr acquired its Korean book collection through a bequest in 1950 from Helen Burwell Chapin, Class of 1915.  Chapin was an expert in Asian art, and spent many years in China, Japan and Korea studying and collecting books, scrolls, and other art works.

Ji-Hee Han and Hye-Eun Lee of the National Library of Korea discuss Bryn Mawr's Korean books with Hyoungbae Lee, Korean Studies Librarian at Princeton

Even though Bryn Mawr’s Korean book collection is a small one, many of the books were printed with metal-cast type, a format reserved for important publications, often ones connected with the royal family.   A number of the books are quite early, including a 16th century collection of Buddhist sutras, and many of them contain illustrations, including a record of the ceremonies performed for the 80th birthday of Korea’s Dowager Queen in 1885.

Illustration from 16th century Korean book of Buddhist Sutras

Hye-Eun Lee and Ji-Hee Han are cataloging and doing further research on the books at Bryn Mawr, and will add information about Bryn Mawr’s holdings to the National Library of Korea’s catalogue of rare books.

The National Library of Korea’s interest in the books came about as the result of a larger project focusing on cataloging the Helen Chapin collections of Chinese,  Japanese and Korean books and scrolls.   The project is being supported by a gift from Bryn Mawr alumna Maxine de Schauensee Lewis ’57.

Illustration of a dance performed for the birthday celebration of the Korean Queen Mother, 1885

One thought on “National Library of Korea Rare Book Specialists Visit Bryn Mawr

  1. Congratulations to Special Collections on this progress in the work on the materials from East Asia that Helen Burwell Chapin left to Bryn Mawr. It is encouraging to see that another Bryn Mawr alumna has responded so generously to support ongoing research, cataloguing, and conservation of Helen Chapin’s eclectic collection.

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