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Oxford College Library Exhibits - Past and Present

Learning from the Empire: Japan in the Archives of Oxford College and Emory University

This exhibit of 19th-century Asian objects and antique photographs featured materials from the Oxford College Collection of Asian Artifacts. The original exhibit from Emory University's Robert W. Woodruff Library also included items from the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library and the Pitts Theology Library. Both exhibits also showcased research by Emory undergraduate students in the Fall 2015 course “Literary and Visual Culture in Japan.”

In the exhibit were exquisite ceramics, sculptures, and photographs of dolls too fragile to be displayed, as well as rare photographs from Japan, China, and Korea. Many of the ceramics and sculptures reflect Shinto and Buddhist religious traditions.

The Oxford College Collection of Asian Artifacts, from which the objects are drawn, includes materials originally sent from Japan to Emory College at Oxford in 1894 by Emory alumnus William Patillo Turner at the request of Emory College President Warren Akin Candler.

The students who studied the objects helped create a finding aid for future library users. Through their research, the students discovered documents and photographs from the same period in the Rose Library and the Pitts Theology Library’s Special Collections that add context to the objects in the Oxford College Library’s collection.

According to library exhibitions manager Kathy Dixson, the class considered the significance of these pieces, and how they were used and perceived by students at the Oxford College museum in the late 19th century.