Guide to the Robert White Collection of Chinese Cultural Revolution Materials, 1920s-1993 and undated
Robert White is an Appalachian State University professor who studied and taught in China during the 1980s and 1990s. The collection contains pins, posters, objects, textiles, and printed material, largely produced for a Chinese audience, promoting the ideals and persona of Mao Zedong, the establishment of the People's Republic of China, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
- Collection Number
- Robert White collection of Chinese Cultural Revolution materials
- 1920s-2000s and undated
- White, Robert (collector)
- 15 Linear Feet, 2 flat boxes; 10 trays; 2 document cases; 1 tube; 2 custom boxes
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in Chinese, English
Collection consists of posters, pins, buttons, flags, printed materials and publications (including Little Red Books), objects and ephemera, most featuring representations of Mao, acquired by White in the 1980s while he participated in academic exchanges with China during his research at Appalachian State University and Duke University. Most of the materials were created and printed in China and intended for the Chinese public. A small number of printed items were intended for an American or global audience, printed in English by the government's Foreign Languages Press. The majority of items were produced during the Cultural Revolution period, and celebrate or promote the ideals and persona of Mao Zedong. Other themes or events idealized in this collection include the creation of political collectives around the country; the establishment of the Red Guard; army service; atomic power; traditional farming; the Down to the Countryside Movement; the Foolish Old Man fable; and other political events and personas within the Chinese Communist Party during the mid-twentieth century. Other noteable references include the Three Red Banners; the Sixteen Points program; the Red Guards' eight mass rallies in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during 1966; Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung (also known as the Little Red Book); and community performances, particularly the 8 Model Plays. Mao is prominently featured on the majority of the posters; another notable figure is Lin Biao. Other figures represented include Mao's wife Jiang Qing, exiled Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk, as well as pre-Cultural Revolution leaders Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, and Hua Guofeng.
Materials are arranged and boxed by format and size. Posters are loosely sorted by content.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Robert White Collection of Chinese Posters, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Includes Down to the Countryside (reeducation); Red Guard; Foolish Old Man fable; marches/parades; general Communist propaganda
Includes portraits, images of Mao at Red Guard receptions, military reviews, and quotes by Mao.
Two artifact boxes with an assortment of pins selected from Robert White's materials intended for use by classes or surveying by researchers. Contains variety of buttons and pins with Mao's profile, image, or photograph, backings include metal, plastic, and ceramic buttons and pins. Also includes enamel pins asserting Chinese nuclear power, featuring atomic bombs and missles; two pins with Lenin's profile; pins featuring the Little Red Book; pins including Mao, Lin Biao, and ? (presumably before their purge); metal medals; and other pins selected as a representative of the larger collection.
Trays of hundreds of loose metal or plastic pins, most typically red background with Mao's profile in gold. Also includes some metal pins with white background and color printed photographs of Mao from various stages of his life. Sizes range from 1" to 4" diameter; some have trim or accompanying Cultural Revolution imagery, and some are plain. Materials include enamel, metal, and resin. Additional examples are located in the Class Sample boxes.
Approximately 15 assorted metal medals and awards, some including ribbons for pinning. Appear to be largely awards for military service. Additional medals are located in the Class Sample boxes.
Ceramic buttons, typically with white background and printed photographic image of Mao. Most are between 1.5 and 2 inches in diameter. Additional examples are in the Class Sample boxes.
Fabric-covered case with gold coins commemorating the 100th birthday of Mao (1893-1993).
Large metal discs with colored enamel coating, featuring Mao; ranging in size from 4" to 14" in diameter.
Red fabric armbands with yellow, black, or white printed Chinese text.
Unopened package from Shanghai Tobacco (Group) Corporation.
Little red book. Includes pen annotations crossing out Lin Biao's name and a cropped printed photograph of Mao, presumably removing Lin Biao's image.
最高指示 / [毛泽东著] ; 中国人民解放军总政治部编. Little book with red plastic dust jacket, with color portrait of Mao on the cover. Foreword by Lin Biao.
毛主席诗词 (注释). Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Includes color and black-and-white illustrations and maps with Mao's military campaigns, portraits, and other printed photographs.
Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Second edition, printed in English by Foreign Language Press, Peking. Includes foreword by Lin Piao (Lin Biao).
Little book with red dustjacket and gold font. Contains printed photographs of Mao, some in color.
中国共产党第十次全国代表大会文件汇编. Little book with red dustjacket. Includes images of Communist Party congresses and Chinese leaders.
无产阶级文化大革命有关文件汇集. 2 small books, with same title, with red dustjackets (one plastic, one cloth) that include writings by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.
Little book with red paperback cover; printed in English by the Foreign Languages Press, Peking.
Little red paperback catalog advertising English edition of Mao's selected works, printed by Foreign Languages Press, Peking, and distributed by Guozi Shudian, China Publications Centre, Peking.
Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Includes manuscript annotations and notes on the last pages of the book.
Little book, paperback cover with no dustjacket; including manuscript notes on the last page.
政治工作学习文件. Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Includes color photograph of Mao.
Volumes 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9; published in English by the Foreign Languages Press in Peking.
Paperback book, printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking. "In celebration of the 18th Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China."
Paperback booklet printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.
Paperback booklet published in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.
Paperback booklet published in English by Joint Publishing Co., Hong Kong.
Illustrated book, printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.
Illustrated children's book, printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.
Illustrated book about Walo Hamlet and the Yi and Han people of China during the Cultural Revolution. Published in English by the Foreign Languages Press, Peking.
Bound collection of pages, in Chinese, with Mao's photograph printed on the cover.
南方来信的收信人 / [百花文艺出版社編輯部編]. Red paperback book with block printing of female revolutionary on cover.
怎样种杂交高粱 / 中国科学院遗传研究所著. Paperback book with block illustration of Mao on cover. Includes illustrations re: agriculture, cultivation of plants.
毛泽东思想宣传欄报头资料 / 工人《报头资料》编绘组编. Paperback volume with red and black block printed images of Cultural Revolution themes.
五四以来反动派, 地主资产阶级学者尊孔复古言论辑彔 : 1969年11月编, 1973年10月增补.
东北民兵 / 沈阳部队政治部. Serial with color photographs.
The political history represented and referred to in this collection includes the Chinese Civil War (1927-1949), the establishment of the People's Republic of China (1949), the chairmanship of Mao Zedong (1949-1976), and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).
In 2016, Robert White wrote the following reflection about his research interests and time in China:
"I first had the chance to travel to China as part of the Appalachian State University - Dong Bei Gong Xue Yuan, now Northeast University in Shenyang academic exchanger program. This relationship was established in 1980 and is among the first US / China University exchanges established in 1980. The Chinese Ministry of Education referred to it regularly through the 1980s as the "first" of those new relationships with U.S. institutions after normalization of relations between our two countries.
My wife and I lived, taught, and conducted research in Shenyang in 1983-84 as the third members of a program of year long faculty exchange between our institutions. It was during this journey that my academic interest in China, its Revolution, and the Symbols of that revolution was first established.
After returning to the U.Ss I completed a long delayed Undergraduate Degree in International studies in 1985. In 1987 I was accepted into the Duke History graduate program to focus on Chinese History. Funded by a Jacob Javits Fellowship I completed course work and language exams in 1989 and finished my Masters thesis examination of the symbolic import of the philatelic output of the so-called Liberated Areas. I returned to China in 1990 for my PhD research.
Although I did not complete the PhD, I began teaching Chinese and Asian History part time at Appalachian State in 1992, and in 1995 I assumed a position as Executive Director of ASU's International Education Office. I combined those duties and kept my hand in teaching and research by leading student trips to China and maintained that set of responsibilities until I retired in 2011.
My interest lies in, and consideration of the range of Propaganda output of the Chinese Communist efforts from its founding, through the World War and Civil war periods, the establishment of New China in 1949, and the first decades following. I worked particularly the Third Revolutionary Civil War period in the Northeast, in the years between 1945 and 1949.
When I first began to consider China, Mao had been dear for only five years, but the psychological cloak of Maoism was yet very firmly in place upon the shoulders of the Chinese People. The great luck of my career was stepping into that dynamic and having a modicum of understanding its portent, both for China and for the world. The nearly 4 decades since those first steps to teasing out a personal perspective of this astonishing place and its people, aided in no small measure by my marriage to my Anthropologist wife, has continued to fascinate and fuel my engagement."
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Jiang, Qing, 1914-1991
- Lin, Baio, 1908-1971
- Liu, Shaoqi, 1898-1969
- Mao, Zedong, 1893-1976
- Zhou, Enlai, 1898-1976
The Robert White Collection of Chinese Posters were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2014 and 2016.
Processed by Meghan Lyon and Qianwen Zhang, Nov. 2015 Updated by Meghan Lyon and Luo Zhou, April 2017
Accessions described in this collection guide: 2015-0142, 2017-0036