Founded in 1911 by James Main Dixon, who had previously lectured on English literature at the Imperial University in Tokyo for 13 years, USC's Department of Oriental Studies and Comparative Literature initially had a particular strength in Japanese studies. The Library's Japanese Collection, however, did not begin until the formation of the Von KleinSmid Library of World Affairs in 1929, and not significantly until the period following World War II. One of the strongest parts of the Japanese collection derives from a postwar concentration of specialists at USC on Japanese leftist political parties. Since 2002, we have strived to build one of the strongest collections on pre-1600 Japan in North America. This has contributed to the dramatic success of USC’s pioneering Project for Premodern Japan Studies, and we are now known for the unique strength of our pre-1600 holdings. Each summer since 2004, USC Libraries has hosted the Kambun Workshop led by Professor Joan Piggott. The workshop helps to train the next generation of scholars working on premodern Japan in North America, and the Japanese Collection at USC Libraries helps facilitate this important endeavor.
The collection as a whole is aimed at providing a basis for the study, in the Japanese language, of a broad range of social sciences and humanities. For more information about accessing materials in the Japanese Collection, please see the Japanese Studies Research Guide.