May 25, 2022

Stanford Libraries Receives a Remarkable East Asian Information Technology Collection

From Stanford Libraries:

Assembled over the course of 15 years of research and teaching, the Thomas S. Mullaney East Asian Information Technology History Collection is one of a kind and will greatly deepen Stanford’s holdings. The collection is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, containing rare machines alongside archival and printed documents.

Thomas S. Mullaney

Source: Stanford Libraries

“I did not realize that I had become a collector until about halfway through the process,” Stanford Professor of History Thomas S. Mullaney recalled. “I began by buying a few items from used bookstores for my research. Others were donated to me by people trying to find a home for their antiques. Only after my collection had grown did it dawn on me how rare and fragile these materials were. They needed a permanent home.”

Mullaney donated more than 2000 items, along with a detailed bibliography and high-resolution scans. Dating from the turn of the twentieth century to the present age of computing, the collection has strong Chinese holdings and additional materials from other East Asian countries. It documents the modern history of Chinese and East Asian telegraph codes, typewriters, printing, mimeographs, word processors, computers, and a host of other information technologies.

“We intend to invest modestly and selectively to build upon the collection by expanding its Japanese holdings and establishing a Korean section,” said Michael A. Keller, vice provost and the Ida M. Green University Librarian at Stanford. “Professor Mullaney will be an advisor to these expansions.”


Mullaney’s award-winning books include Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (UC Press, 2010) and The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT Press, 2017), the first full-length history in any language of China’s development of a modern, nonalphabetic information infrastructure encompassing telegraphy, typewriting, word processing, and computing.

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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.