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Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945: A Resource Guide

Materials in Other Reading Rooms

In addition to the Asian Reading Room, the Library of Congress has over 20 research centers that provide both guidance and a physical space for users to interact with collection items based on subject (e.g., law) and format (e.g., maps, photographs). Links to titles of publications and collection items on this page will retrieve fuller bibliographic information from the Library of Congress Online Catalog. For specific questions or assistance using the Library’s resources, use our Ask a Librarian service to contact a reference librarian.

The Geography & Map Reading Room provides access to valuable maps related to the Sino-Japanese War. They include military maps, newspaper maps, propaganda maps, resource maps, and hand-drawn maps. There cartographic materials can help historians to interpret history from a unique perspective. Particularly worth mentioning among the subject-specific maps are the Chinese military maps produced during the war that depict battles and military maneuvers. Also interesting are the Japanese military maps that were captured during and immediately after the war.

Examples of useful maps include:

Materials relating to law, which are assigned call numbers in the K-class, such KN or KZ, are found in the Law Library. This includes dozens of publications in Chinese, Japanese, and English of interest to those researching the Sino-Japanese War. Some examples are included below.

The Main Reading Room provides access to more than 30 million books and bound periodicals in English and other European languages in the Library's general collection. The Online Catalog provides subject headings, name headings, and title headings. In addition, users can use a key word search. For example, a search with Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1945 results in thousands of bibliographic titles. In addition to the contemporary publications in English, there are little known titles of unique research values in other Western languages, such as Wolf Schenke's 1940 publication Reise an der gelben Front; Beobachtungen eines deutschen Kriegsberichterstatters in China (Travel on the Yellow Front; Observations of a German War Correspondent in China). In this work, the author recorded his first-hand observation of actions in the battle front, which seems to be vital for the understanding of the war, especially, from the perspective of a reporter of Germany, an ally of Japan at that time.

The Microform and Electronic Resources Center is the point of access for microfilm and microfiche from the general collection. Among items that concern the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 are part 1 (1942-1945) of the Records of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Other microform series include items on strategic issues and China. One collection of great import is Archives in the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which contains over two million pages (2,116 reels) of documents covering the period 1868 to 1945. It also contains documents from the International Military Tribunal, and a long telegram series of outgoing and incoming messages between Foreign Service officers in the field and the Minister in Tokyo. This collection supplements the collection based on the archives of the Japanese Army, Navy, and other government agencies entitled Selected Japanese Army and Navy Archives.

The Manuscript Reading Room maintains 25 collections of papers from prominent individuals that include wartime correspondences, diaries, memos, telegrams, speeches, articles, and newspaper clippings relevant to the study of the war. Significant among them are the Henry Luce Papers, 1917-1967, and Clare Boothe Luce Papers, 1862-1988. So, too, are the important naval papers of such figures as Admirals Harry E. Yarnell and William Leahy. One of the key collections is Nelson Trusler Johnson Papers, 1887-1954. As the U.S. Ambassador to China, Johnson had had frequent communications with American and Chinese leaders, such as Henry L. Stimson, Cordell Hull, Stanley K. Hornbeck, Chiang Kai-shek, Hu Shih, H. H. Kung, and T. V. Soong.

The Owen Lattimore Papers, 1907-1997 can also be a good resource for the study of wartime China and international relations. Lattimore, a sinologist and scholar of Asia, was appointed in June 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to be U.S. advisor to Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek for one and a half years. Before the end of the Second World War, he worked as director of Pacific Operations in the United States Office of War Information Overseas Operations Branch. Useful among the sources are conversations and correspondences between Lattimore and wartime leaders in China and the United States.

The Manuscript Reading Room's Finding Aids for Collections provide detailed information on manuscript collections related to the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945.

The Moving Image Research Center maintains the largest and most diverse collection of war-related moving images of the period.

Appointments for viewing film prints and video copies should be made as far in advance as possible to guarantee that requests can be fulfilled, with a minimum of ten days advance notice. A six-week lead time will guarantee that all but the most irreparably damaged items can be made accessible.

Reference books in the motion picture collection provide an overview of American commercial movies produced during the war, such as The Films of World War II (1973) and Films and the Second World War (New York, 1974). The finding aid, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan on Film, Television and Video in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress [PDF, 1750KB] provides useful information on the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. It can help locate historical films including The Battle of China (1944), which was the sixth film of Hollywood director Frank Capra's Why We Fight propaganda film series produced by the U.S. Office of War Information. In the Moving Image Reading Room, there are more than 30 original documentary films of significant research value that were produced during the war years by Westerners.

In the Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room, there are 1,600 titles of newspapers in English and other European languages, both current issues and back files. The reading room's collections on all major American and foreign newspapers of the period are also useful for researchers. The Sino-Japanese War can be followed chronologically in one newspaper; while a comparison can be made among various papers; and specific events can be researched as well.

Searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog allows you to locate relevant titles.

Two men in military uniforms inspect the front of a propeller plane.
Lt. Gen. H.H. "Hap" Arnold (left) and Brig. Gen. Claire Chennault inspect a line of P-40s emblazoned with the "Sharknose" emblem of the Flying Tigers, Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

The Prints & Photographs Reading Room has dozens of photo collections and albums which contain pictures of life in China and Japan during the war. Users can access the Prints & Photographs Online Catalog to search for materials of interest. Please note that for photographs still under copyright, or whose rights status is unclear, larger images are available only when accessed at the Library of Congress.

Listed below are some photographic collections that document the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945

  • China at War
    This collection contains 236 photographs, with a focus on Chinese Nationalist government and military activities of 1938-1943.
  • Photo-documentation of the Public Career of Ch'u Min-yi (Chu Minyi)
    These eight personal photo albums cover 1931 to 1945 and document the early career and activities of Chu Min-yi, the Foreign Minister of the collaborationist Nanjing Nationalist Government. This collection provides rarely seen images of the life in the Japanese-occupied areas in China.
  • Sino-Japanese Conflict
    From the Office of War Information Collection, these captured albums from the Japanese Yomiuri News company mostly cover battles and include detailed descriptions in Japanese.

The Science, Technology and Business Reading Room holds extensive collections in all fields of science and technology including the Technical Report Collection. Of great research interest are original materials pertaining to the Imperial Japanese Army's Biological Warfare Unit (Unit 731).

The Japanese Medical Experiments During World War II can be found in the Technical Reports Collections.

These reports are part of the information obtained by American investigators from members of the infamous Kwantung Army Water Supply and Purification Department (Bōeki Kyūsuibu 防疫給水部), stationed in Manchuria and commanded by Lt. Gen. Shiro Ishii. Imperial Japan's Biological Warfare Unit conducted experiments (often using human test subjects) on how to defend against bacteriological attacks, and conversely, how to use biological agents against enemies. These reports were translated into English and housed over time at different military locations.

The United States Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000. Part of the American Folklife Center, the Veterans History Project collects American war veterans' personal accounts including correspondence, creative works, diaries, memoirs, photos, audio transcripts, etc. A search for veterans during the Second World War in the China-Burma-India Theater results in 2,176 hits, which include audio recordings of a member of Flying Tigers, Frederick Wu-O Chiao, Major General, Air Force Veteran, China.