The Yale University Library has been collecting Chinese language materials for well over 160 years. A set of traditional stitch-bound Five Classics with Selected Comments 五經體註 was deposited to Yale in 1849, when the College Library became the first academic institution in the United States to collect Chinese books. The early acquisitions of Chinese books were mainly arranged for the Yale Library by missionary printer, scholar, and diplomat Samuel Wells Williams (1812-1884), who was Yale’s inaugural professor of Chinese language and civilization. Yung Wing 容閎 (1828-1912), Yale Class of 1854 and the first Chinese student to graduate from an American college, gave his personal library to his alma mater. Yung Wing’s major donations in 1878 and 1911 laid the foundation of the Chinese collection.
The Yale University Library collects the Chinese-language resources in all formats for research, learning, and teaching needs on Yale campus with an emphasis in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Primary sources and scholarly works published in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other areas are regularly collected. Other libraries on campus with much smaller Chinese language holdings include Arts Library, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Divinity School Library, Medical Historical Library and Law Library.