May 17, 2022

New Boston College Website of Digitized Rare Books Explores Jesuit Missionaries in China

From a Boston College Announcement:

An exquisite collection of rare books that chronicles the scholarly work of Jesuit missionaries in China from the 16th through the 18th centuries has been digitized for the web through the year-long effort of a Jesuit historian and scholar working with the Boston College Jesuitana Collection in Burns Library.

Jeremy Clarke, S.J., an Australian Jesuit and assistant professor of history at BC, has launched Beyond Ricci,, a searchable website that provides scholars and researchers access to books containing historical narratives, maps, correspondence and musical compositions in five languages that depict life in China in early modern history and the East-West exchanges initiated by the early Jesuit missionaries.

“This website takes knowledge and information that is rare and beautiful and puts it into the academic domain, providing an interdisciplinary resource for scholars and students of disciplines ranging from history and geography, to Latin and Chinese,” said Fr. Clarke, whose project was funded through a grant from BC’s Academic Teaching Advisory Board and the Office of the Provost. “It was a labor of love, and an act of homage to my Jesuit brothers and their Chinese counterparts whose remarkable scholarship is preserved in these rare books that will now be available to visitors from Chestnut Hill to Canberra, San Francisco to Shanghai.”

Among the many notable digitized items from the rare book collection are a 1735 translation of a French encyclopedia of China; an extensively detailed 18th century atlas; melody lines from the Chinese Imperial Court that were transcribed by Jesuits in the mid-18th century; and a translation of Confucian texts by the Jesuit missionaries that represented the first introduction of Confucius to the Western world.


“As a rare books library, we are pleased to make our collection available for this project,” said Bridget Burke, associate university librarian for special collections at BC. “We have the largest Jesuitana collection in the United States, so collaborating on digital humanities projects gives us an opportunity to do what no other library can do.”

Read the Complete Announcement

Direct to Beyond Ricci

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.