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Chinese Pamphlets: Political Communication and Mass Education in China

Center for Research Libraries

Collection Profile

The holdings at the Center for Research Libraries are especially rich in primary documents of political communication. The pamphlets, reports, newspapers, and other kinds of printed materials held by CRL chronicle the activities of political figures, parties, and organizations around the globe. Such documents are vital source materials for history and area studies, but tend to be produced erratically and disappear quickly. The center's collection of Chinese pamphlets used for mass education in the early period of the People's Republic of China, compiled by Edward Hunter, is one such collection.

An analyst of propaganda and mass education, Edward Hunter (1902-1978) had a long career in journalism and intelligence. As a correspondent and foreign editor for newspapers and news services in the Far East, Hunter covered hostilities in Manchuria during the 1930s. During World War II he served in the Morale Operations Section of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services for two years, mainly in Asia. After World War II Hunter became a vociferous anti-Communist and popular lecturer on propaganda and psychological warfare. He was publisher-editor of the monthly journal Tactics, a contributor to mass-market magazines like Esquire and Harper's, and an expert witness for the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His best-known book was Brain-washing in Red China: the calculated destruction of men's minds (1951).

The Hunter Collection consists of mass education materials published in Hong Kong and in Mainland China during the years 1947 to 1954. These include approximately 200 cartoon books, pamphlets, postcards, and magazines, heavily pictorial in content, on such topics as foreign threats to Chinese security, Chinese relations with the Soviet Union, industrial and agricultural production, and marriage reform. The materials were produced by both Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist) and Communist regimes, and appear to be directed at the general youth and adult populations of China. Unlike the high-end, made-for-export propaganda held by many Western libraries, this is the "street literature" of the revolution: the comic books, leaflets, and other ephemera distributed to the population of the provincial cities and villages.

Accompanying the Chinese publications were a small number of pamphlets from a series entitled Cartoon Propaganda Reference Materials, published in Beijing by the People's Art Publishing House. The Cartoon Propaganda Reference Materials offer insights on contemporary readings of the images and picture stories and on party leaders' expectations of the artists who created them. Although cartoons were popular in China since the 1920s, they had not been used for political purposes by the warlord governments and the Kuomintang. In China prior to the Revolution it was more common for critics, rather than supporters, of the government to employ cartoons and pictorial materials to communicate their message.

The collection came to the Center for Research Libraries as a deposit from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which received it directly from Edward Hunter. In 2006, a corresponding digital collection was released at CRL's Annual Meeting as one of the cornerstones for its e-collections.

Collection Profile and Overview: Bernard Reilly
Illustrations: Center for Research Libraries

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