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Archives and Special Collections: International Sources: East Asia

Our collections

The Malcolm MacDonald Papers contain much on the period of de-colonisation in the post-war period. In 1946 he was appointed Governor General of Malaya, later with responsibilities covering all S.E. Asia. In 1955 he served as High Commissioner in India and in 1960 was appointed co-chairman of the international conference on Laos. The collection is rich in correspondence from key personalities in emergent states, and China, and British administrative and policy papers.

A small group of Oriental Manuscripts was collected by the former School of Oriental Studies. The contents are extremely varied, including literary manuscripts, religious, mathematical, astronomical, astrological and medical texts, grammatical and other linguistic material, a Taoist weather manual, and correspondence and diaries. Languages include Islamic (material in several languages, including Urdu), Amharic, Arabic, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish including Chagatay, Hindi, Pali, Sanskrit, Telugu, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and European.

The letters of John Stevens Blackett (1833-) cover the period of the Indian Rebellion in 1857, and describe the course of the uprising in the neighbourhood of Agra where Blackett was forced to take refuge. The papers of Sir George Wingate (1813-1874), part of the Wingate Papers, document his role in tax and land reform in India.

The papers of Louis Allen (1922-1991) contain original documents, transcripts and photocopies relating to his research on Japan and the Second World War and his efforts for reconciliation and mutual understanding between the British and Japanese. His library on Japan also forms part of our printed collections. Jack Lawson (1881-1965), Labour peer and Secretary of State for War 1945-1946 includes records of his war-time tours of Spain, the Far East (including China), and his involvement with the Commonwealth War Graves Association.

The collection of Bentley Beetham (1886-1963) records his interest in climbing and natural history, notably the 1924 Everest expedition. Photographs, newspaper cuttings and expedition schedules depict the progress of the 1924 expedition through Tibet to the foot of Everest and the ascent of the mountain. They also provide a detailed record of Tibetan life along the route. The collection is available online.

Our Additional Manuscripts collection includes an illustrated account of the Shout-West family's 1853/4 emigration to Australia and the 1909-1916 diaries of Thomas Shearstone a British mercantile agent active in China in the early years of the Republic.

Availability online (digital images)

Many of these collections have not been digitised, so that in these cases only the catalogues are currently available online.

If you would like to purchase digital copies of specific items from any of our collections, please get in touch.

If you are a member of teaching staff at Durham University and would like to use material from Archives and Special Collections within your lectures or seminars, we may be able to scan or photograph items for this purpose.  Please contact us as early as possible with any teaching digitisation requests.

See also our guide to Digitised Collections Online for further information on our digital resources.

Access to original sources

The collections mentioned above are located at Palace Green Library.  Our current opening hours are as follows, but see also below.

  • Monday to Friday: 10am to 4:30pm
  • Saturday: closed
  • Sunday: closed

For further information on visiting to use the collections, please use our enquiry form.

See separate Libraries and Site Information guide for further information on Palace Green Library.

Due to essential works, there will be a period of restricted access to the Archives and Special Collections throughout April and May. Details of opening times can be found in our Library Sites guide.  Appointments will be required for all visits during April and May, please use the enquiry form to book.  Please give three working days notice for appointments and include a full list of document references or shelfmarks so that we can best enable your research access.