The Collections

The Ricci Institute Library Collections and Archives


The Library of the Ricci Institute holds over 85,000 volumes and is housed on the Lone Mountain Campus of the University of San Francisco. The majority of these volumes concern traditional China with a special concentration on the Jesuits missions, East-West cultural exchange, and the history of the Ming-Qing period, roughly from the 16th-19th centuries. In addition to these volumes there are more than 300,00 digital documents, photos, manuscripts, microfilms, paintings, and artefacts. Two of the original components include the Library of the China Province of the Society of Jesus Bibliotheca Sinensis Societatis Iesu compiled by Fr. Albert Chan, S.J., and the China Archives of Fr. Francis A. Rouleau, S.J. Since 1985 the Library has added thousands of volumes annually. About 80% of the volumes are in Chinese, with additional materials in Latin, Portuguese, French, Japanese, English, Spanish, and Korean.

Fr. Francis A. Rouleau, S.J. (1900-1984), arrived in Shanghai in 1929, and lived there until 1952. A historian and theologian, he spent many years collecting archival materials concerning the Chinese Rites Controversy. His first collection was destroyed in Shanghai in 1949, and Fr. Rouleau was compelled to rebuild it by traveling to archives in Rome, Paris, London, Portugal, the Philippines, and elsewhere, making microfilms, copies, and transcriptions of source material. Now housed at the Ricci Institute, Fr. Rouleau’s life-long collection contains hundreds of documents (over 50,000 pages) in six different European languages. To preserve and improve ease of use, most of the Rouleau microfilm archive has been digitized onto compact disk. In addition, there are more than 200 rare European books in the Rouleau Archives.

Fr. Albert Chan, S.J. (1915-2005), curator of the Bibliotheca Sinensis Societatis Iesu (also known as the Jesuit Chinese Library) and senior research fellow at the Ricci Institute, is a historian specializing in Ming history with a passion for books. As a young Jesuit in Hong Kong in the 1930’s he had already collected over 1,000 volumes, only to have them later stolen or destroyed. He began collecting anew, only to have his second collection destroyed during World War II. After the war, Fr. Chan assembled his third collection, purchasing books (and sometimes entire collections) on his small stipend. Now one of the largest private collections on China in the world, the Bibliotheca Sinensis Societatis Iesu today contains over 70,000 volumes (the majority in Chinese) including many rare and important editions. Fr. Chan, still active, also inspected other China-related collections, recently producing a catalog of Chinese holdings of the Jesuit Archives in Rome.

By the early 1980’s the Society of Jesus felt that the Bibliotheca Sinensis Societatis Iesu could form the base for an international center for the study of the historical and cultural ties between China and the West. The Ricci Institute, founded in 1984 by Fr. Francis A. Rouleau, S.J., Fr. Edward J. Malatesta, S.J., Sr. Mary Celeste Rouleau, S.M., and Dr. Theodore N. Foss, Ph.D., was chosen as the repository, and in 1985 Fr. Chan and the collection arrived at USF.


From 1985-1997, under the Directorship of Fr. Edward J. Malatesta, S.J. (1932-1998), the Ricci Institute added many important items in both Chinese and Western languages. Fr. Malatesta sponsored and initiated many research and publishing projects with colleagues in China and Europe, resulting in such works as the Shanghai Library Catalog of Western Rare Books, Departed Yet Present on the Zhalan cemetery, and The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven. The Malatesta/Phillipps China Archives include manuscript materials from the Philip Robinson collection on the Chinese Rites controversy, source books, photographs, and documents on Jesuit sites in China, and papers concerning Christianity in China.

The Library also houses a number of other archives which include:

  • ARSI Japonica-Sinica Collection [Digital]
  • Francis A. Rouleau S.J. Rare Book Collection [Zikawei Library]
  • Francis A. Rouleau S.J. Archives [Microfilm/Digital]
  • F. Rouleau-T. Carroll S.J. Archives [Sino-Jesuit History & Chinese Rites manuscripts]
  • Edward J. Malatesta S.J. China Archives [Papers & Philip Robinson manuscripts]
  • Frederick J. Foley Photograph Collection [Physical & Digital]
  • Alden J. Stevenson S.J. Photograph Collection [Physical & Digital]
  • Celestial Icons: Chinese-Christian Scroll Paintings [Physical & Digital]
  • Canton Archdiocese Archives [Physical & Digital]
  • Passionist China Collection [Digital]
  • Biblioteca da Ajuda Jesuítas na Ásia [Digital]
  • Jinling Women’s College of Nanjing Archives [partial]



2130 Fulton Street, LM280

San Francisco, CA 94117-1080, U.S.A.

Tel: 415-422-6401     Fax: 415-422-2291


©2016 The USF Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History