The University of North Georgia (UNG) has acquired more than 1,000 books collected by a California anthropologist that greatly expand the university's holdings on Asia, including several volumes that are out of print and hard to locate.
The Dr. Maner L. Thorpe Collection is a collection of books that focus on history, culture, and linguistics and language of East Asia – China, Korea, Japan and Mongolia. Because of his interest in the region, Dr. Tim May, associate dean of UNG's College of Arts & Letters, began inquiring about collection when he learned it was on the market.
"The acquisition of the Thorpe collection added more than a thousand books to our holdings and also provided impetus for further expansion to round out our library's holdings on Asia," said May, a professor of history who is a specialist in the Mongol Empire. "We now have holdings that meet the needs of graduate work in the various areas of Asian studies."
Thorpe was a native of Los Angeles who served in Japan during the Korean War; while later pursuing his doctorate in linguistics, Thorpe and his family lived in Tokyo for two years while he spent time researching daily life in a nearby South Korean village. Thorpe died in 2012 after spending decades sharing his passion for multicultural studies as a professor at two universities.
Thorpe's children, Geoffrey Thorpe and Fran Thorpe Rosenberg, recently visited UNG from California for an event celebrating the collection. Geoffrey Thorpe said his father wanted his books to go to a "scholarly institution" and he is really glad his father's wish has been realized.
|The Dr. Maner L. Thorpe Collection is a collection
of books that focus on history, culture, and
linguistics and language of East Asia – China,
Korea, Japan and Mongolia.
"Who would have thought it would have been the University of North Georgia, but now that you think about it, what worthier place?" Thorpe said. "He spent most of his adult life gathering these, and the effort that has been saved to the university of gathering each one separately is just untold and probably could never be done today. It's a great thing to keep the collection together; it's so much more meaningful when it's all together."
Of particular interest in the collection is more than 120 travel accounts from the early 20th century, which was a turbulent time in East Asia, May said.
"You have these first-hand accounts of the turbulence and also these areas of calm in the turbulence during the early 20th century, including fascinating accounts of wars, the daily life, everything topic you can possibly think of," May said. "Those are actually some of the same writings that originally got me interested in studying that part of the world."
UNG purchased the bulk of Thorpe's collection with funds from the UNG Foundation, but the Thorpe family also donated a significant number of volumes to the university.
Thorpe said he hopes the collection will assist student and faculty research in Asian studies, providing information not easily available through other means.
"There are a lot of things in these books that are completely obscure that are totally forgotten and not on any website, should someone be really interested in delving into some of the topics," he said.