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Royal Asiatic Society (Hong Kong Branch) Collection

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Location: Central Reference Library ,  8/F of  Hong Kong Central Library
Type: Reference Material, available for public use in the library
The Society and its background: The Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society (RAS), a subsidiary of the Royal Asiatic Society in London, was established in 1847 with its main aim of promoting the understanding of Chinese and Asian cultures. The Branch's first President was Sir John Davis, the Governor of Hong Kong. The Branch was once closed in 1859 and re-established in 1959. It is an active society, organizing varied talks and seminars, visits and overseas tours, and publishing annual academic journals and publications in the furtherance of its aim.

Starting from 1985, the Library of the RAS Hong Kong Branch has been deposited on long-term loan to the Hong Kong (Urban Council) Public Libraries. The stock was housed in the Reference Library of the Kowloon Public Library, bearing the name of The Royal Asiatic Society (Hong Kong Branch) Collection for the RAS members as well as the general public's consultation. The Collection was transferred to the City Hall Reference Library in 1994 and then to the Hong Kong Central Reference Library in May 2001 for public's use.

The Hong Kong Branch of the RAS has built up a collection of books within its area of interest, covering the fields of art, literature, history and culture of Hong Kong, China and other Asian countries. The Collection has grown steadily over the years by purchase, gift and exchange. At present, it comprises around 8,000 items, and will be further enriched by annual additions. It consists of books, periodicals, photo albums, pamphlets, audio-visual materials and CD-ROMs. Many of them are valuable, rare and out-of-print works, forming core reference materials for the researchers on Hong Kong, China and Asian studies.

Examples of valuable works in the Collection, to name a few, are:

  • Some contemporary works relating to Britain's first embassy to China in 1793-94.

  • Some important works recounting the establishment of British Hong Kong in 1840-42.

  • Sir Belcher's two-volume work on his round-the-world voyage.

  • Recollections on the exploits of the East India Company's steamer "Nemesis".

  • About 400 rare books of the oriental stock of the late Mr. Arnold Graham.

Some of the books came from other collections, such as the old Hong Kong Club, the South China Morning Post's pre-war library and from Madam du Breuil, who was a former Beijing resident serving the Branch.

Related links:

The Royal Asiatic Society (Hong Kong Branch) Homepage at
Search the Special Collection Library Catalogue  The Royal Asiatic Society (Hong Kong Branch)


Please call (852) 2921 0222 or using the Ask a Librarian – Internet Reference Enquiry Service .