The Xu Dishan Collection

The collection of the eminent scholar and educator Xu Dishan [许地山 (1893-1941)], whose works in literature, religious studies, and the studies of folklorist beliefs are milestones in Chinese literati culture and are still worked on today internationally, was put up for sale in 1950. The significance of the Xu Dishan collection to Chinese history and culture gained the attention of Historian and professor of Far Eastern History, C. P. Fitzgerald (1902-1992). Fitzgerald saw the collection as the first stage of building a world class Asian Studies library at the Australian National University. In 1950, on behalf of the university, he undertook the negotiation and purchase of the collection.

The portion of the collection held by the Australian National University consists of 469 titles in 1,224 volumes and contains many rare editions and suspected orphaned sacred books on Buddhism, Taoism and other missionary publications of the time, including translations of the Bible. Items on Daoism and Buddhism make up the larger part of this collection and are of special interest since not many of those have survived in China and are sought after by researchers world-wide.

The portion of the collection located at The University of Hong Kong consists of about 430 single titles in all areas of Asian history, religions, and languages. The combination of both collections enables us to recognise the broad interests of his research.

The collection has works dating back many centuries, and due to the complexities of publishing and limited provenance data on works in the collection, the information provided in the records may be incomplete. The ANU is seeking more information on the titles of the collection, and it is hoped that scholars worldwide may be interested in assisting us with this ongoing identification process.