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Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff collection

Identifier: ubl052

Scope and Contents

Together with the Collection Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap of the Sinological Library the Gützlaff Collection contains a substantial and representative part of the publication activities of Protestant missionaries in China in the early 19th century. Also, besides being one of the largest collections of Gützlaff's works in Chinese, the collection also contains samples of the earliest Chinese journals ever printed, mostly containing information about the West (cf. e.g. Zurndorfer 1995, pp. 106 f.).

The Gützlaff Collection contains 109 works in Chinese, written during the first half of the 19th century by Protestant missionaires. Most of the works are Christian tracts and Bible translations by the German missionary Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff (Chinese names: 愛漢者, 善德(者), 郭實獵; known in China today as 郭士立). Other titles include works by Robert Morrison 马礼逊 (1782-1834), William Milne 博愛者 (1785-1822), Liang A Fa梁亞發 (1789-1855), Walter Henry Medhurst 尚德者 (1796-1857), John Ince 後學者 (1795-1825), David Collie 種德(者) (ca. 1800-1828), William Dean 憐, 爲仁者 (1807-1895), Dyer Ball 波乃耶 (1796-1866), James Legge 理雅各 (1815-1897), Lin Kezhen 林克貞, Rudolph Lechler 黎力基, George Pierce 俾士, and some unknown authors. Also included are specimens of some of the earliest Chinese journals, containing information on the West..


  • Creation: 1812-1854

Language of Materials

Chinese, English and Malay.

Conditions Governing Use

Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

The German missionary Karl Gützlaff (1803-1851) was trained in Rotterdam and was sent by the Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap (Netherlands Missionary Society, NZG) to the Dutch East Indies in 1826. Half a year later, he went to Riau (Bintang Island), where he concentrated his energies on the Chinese population. Later he gradually turned away from the NZG, and in 1828 moved to Thailand where he worked for three years. He was then assisted by the Batavian Missionary Society and the Traktaat Genootschap (Dutch Tract Society). In 1831, he finally broke with the NZG, but he later continued to correspond with the Netherlands Missionary Society, the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap and the Tractaat Genootschap. All three sent significant contributions to Gützlaff in the 1830s and 1840s. He offered proof of his accomplishments by sending copies of his tracts and Bible translations. For example, in 1839 he dispatched 34 copies of Chinese publications. Because of the close relations with the Netherlands, a large number of Gützlaff’s and other missionaries’ Chinese publications are now kept in the above mentioned collections. According to the list in Wylie, Gützlaff’s Chinese publications amount to 61 titles, of which 53 are kept in the Sinological Institute.

In the 1830s, Gützlaff traveled along the Chinese coast four times. In 1834 he became secretary of the British Superintendant of Trade in Canton, and later in Hong Kong. In 1844 he established the Chinese Union, promoting the indigenization of Christianity through the use of native preachers. He was then and still is today a controversial figure, but his historical significance cannot be denied.


109 items (1-2 meter)

Abstract in Dutch

Vroege protestantse werken, geschreven in het Chinees voor 1867, verworven van het Zendelingenhuis in Oegstgeest rond 1980. Ongeveer de helft van deze boeken zijn geschreven door de Duitse missionaris Karl Gützlaff (1803-1851), en de andere helft bevatten aangehechte annotaties die waarschijnlijk door hem zijn geschreven. Deze boeken zijn oorspronkelijk afkomstig van het Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap en Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap, waarmee Gützlaff een nauwe band onderhield.

Abstract in English

Early protestant works in Chinese dating from before 1867, acquired from the Zendingshuis (Mission House) in Oegstgeest around 1980. About half of these books were written by the German missionary Karl Gützlaff (1803-1851), while the other half have pasted-on notes probably written by him. These books originally belonged to the Nederlandsch Zendelinggenootschap and the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap (Netherlands Bible Society), to both of which Gützlaff had a close relationship.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The items are bound in traditional Chinese fashion. The items are bound in traditional Chinese fashion and stored horizontally in acid free folders. The paper of some items is brittle, the items have to be handled with great care.

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Each item can be found in the Leiden University Catalogue, by searching on shelfmark "SINOL. gutz?". In 2009 Koos Kuiper also wrote a description of the Gützlaff Collection, Protestant works in the KNAG Collection and the Van Gulik Kamer Collection.

Custodial History

About half of the books in this collection are by Gützlaff, while the other half have pasted-on notes probably written by him. These books originally belonged to the Nederlands Zendelinggenootschap and the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap and were kept in the Zendelingenhuis in Rotterdam. When that institution moved to Oegstgeest in 1917, they were probably also brought along.

Around 1850, J. Hoffmann (1805-1878) had made a description of the Chinese books in the Zendelingenhuis in Rotterdam and the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap. The numbers he wrote on the books can still be seen. These descriptions are kept in the Special Collections Reading Room, Central Library (ms. BPL 2181 J 5); photocopies are kept in the Van Gulik Room, the rare books collection of the Sinological Institute. Almost all of the books on these lists are now in the Gützlaff Collection, but this Collection also has 15 titles not mentioned by Hoffmann.

In 1852, a list of 45 books by Gützlaff kept in the Netherlands was compiled by Hoffmann and published (without characters) as an appendix to H.C. Millies's Necrology of Gützlaff. Hoffmann then noted that the wrong ascriptions were written by E.H. Röttger, a former missionary in Riau, who apparently did not understand Chinese.These books were at the time kept in the libraries of the Nederlands Bijbel Genootschap, Zendeling Genootschap and H.C. Millies. All of these books can now be found in the Gützlaff collection, except one, which was lost, and six of Millies's books that ended up in the collection Koninklijk Nederlands Aardrijkskundig Genootschap (KNAG)>

Some books have descriptions written by Gützlaff on the cover, stating the writer ("de schrijver") gave them to the Nederlandsch Zendeling Genootschap. Hoffmann’s list has 30 titles by Gützlaff; these may have been the 34 books he donated to the NZG in 1839. Copies of his New Testament translation of 1847 were perhaps donated to both NZG and the Nederlands Bijbelgenootschap during his visit to the Netherlands (including Rotterdam) in April-May 1850. Many other books have pasted-on descriptions which were probably written by Gützlaff. Finally, some books have descriptions written on the cover signed ChG or Carl Gützlaff which are not always correct, incorrectly ascribing these books to Gützlaff (some books by Gützlaff have correct ascriptions). Hoffmann already noted these wrong descriptions on his lists and sometimes corrected them on the cover. These descriptions were written in another hand than Gützlaff’s.

The original Gützlaff Collection has 79 items and the Supplement has 30 items (Gutz 80-109), in total 109 items. The former were those acquired from the Zendingshuis in the 1980s, while the Supplement contains books and tracts that were already in the Sinological Institute around 1930, but most of which had not yet been catalogued. On some of the latter the name of the German missionary R. Kröne is written, who was active in the 1850s.

Most of the items, i.e. those with shelfmarks Gutz 1-79, were acquired around 1980 from the Zendingshuis (Mission House) in Oegstgeest for the library of the Sinological Institute, by its librarian John T. Ma (Ma Daren). The rest (Gutz 80-109 and the nos. Gutz 7B, 10B, 43b, 57b, 62B, 64B) were already in the Sinological Institute around 1930. These titles were probably acquired from the H.C. Millies (1810-1868) collection in the 1870s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 2016 the collections of the East Asian Library were transferred to Leiden University Library.


No future additions are to be expected.


No future additions are to be expected.

Related Materials

KNAG Collection, VGK Collection, both in Leiden University Library.


  • Gützlaff, K. 东西洋考每月统记传. Beijing 1997. [Reprint of the 1833-1838 journal "Dongxi yang kao meiyue tong ji zhuan", including introductionary essay].
  • Kuiper, K. List of Chinese works by early 19th-century Protestant missionaries kept in the Sinological Institute, Leiden University. 2009.
  • Millies, H.C. Levensberigt van Dr. Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff, in: Jaarboek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde, 1852 (zie DBNL).
  • Schlegel, G. Catalogue des livres chinois qui se trouvent dans la bibliothèque de l’Université de Leide. Leiden 1883.
  • Spillett, H. W. A catalogue of scriptures in the languages of China and the Republic of China. London, 1975.
  • Walravens, H. Karl Friedrich Neumann (1793 - 1870) und Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff (1803 - 1851). Wiesbaden 2001.
  • Wylie, A. Memorials of Protestant missionaries to the Chinese. Shanghae 1867.
  • Zurndorfer, H. China bibliography. Leiden 1995.


The material can be requested in the online catalogue. It can be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Processing Information

In 2005, items from the Supplement (Gutz 80-109) were collected from various places of the regular shelf, where they had been placed in folders, and brought together with the other items by Gützlaff and others already shelved in the Van Gulik Room. Each item of the whole collection was then put in acid free folders and placed on the shelves horizontally.

Collection guide of the Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff collection (1812-1854)
Collectie Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff
Koos Kuiper, Hanno E. Lecher, 2006
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
This finding aid has been written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 14 October 2016: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857