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 Details

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 Overview

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.

More Biographical / Historical Info


Materials are arranged and boxed by format and size. Posters are loosely sorted by content.

Using These Materials

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Collection is open for research.

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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.

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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.

More copyright and citation information

How to Cite

[Identification of item], Robert White Collection of Chinese Posters, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Posters, 1953-1978

2 Linear Feet, 1 flat box, 24x30 inches
Pre-Cultural Revolution, 1953-1965 and undated
(6 items)
Box 1
Folder 1
Cultural Revolution, General, 1966-1976 and undated
(21 items)

Includes Down to the Countryside (reeducation); Red Guard; Foolish Old Man fable; marches/parades; general Communist propaganda

Box 1
Folder 2
8 Model Plays/Jiang Qing, 1967-1969
(8 items)
Box 1
Folder 3
Mao Zedong, 1966-1978 and undated
(18 items)

Includes portraits, images of Mao at Red Guard receptions, military reviews, and quotes by Mao.

Box 1
Folder 4
Mao Zedong and Lin Baio, 1966-1971 and undated
(19 items)
Box 1
Folder 5
Other political leaders and events, including Post-Cultural Revolution, 1966-1978
(8 items)
Box 1
Folder 6
Sample assortment of pins and medals, 1960s-1970s

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.

Box 2
Box 3
Metal and plastic pins, 1960s-1970s

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.

Box 4
Box 5
Box 7
Box 8
Box 13
Medals, 1920s-1950s

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.

Box 6
Ceramic pins, 1960s-1970s

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.

Box 6
Box 15
Commemorative gold coin set, 1993

Fabric-covered case with gold coins commemorating the 100th birthday of Mao (1893-1993).

Box 12
Empty pin cases, undated
(2 folders, 2 cases)
Box 12
Ceramic bust of Mao, undated
Box 13
Metal portraits of Mao's head

Large metal discs with colored enamel coating, featuring Mao; ranging in size from 4" to 14" in diameter.

Box 13
Box 16
Ceramic upright memorials with portrait of Mao, undated
Box 14
Ceramic upright memorial with portrait of Mao and Lin Baio, undated
Box 14
Flags, 1960s-1970s

Fabric Chinese and Communist flags.

Box 9
Folder 1-3
Armbands, 1960s-1970s

Red fabric armbands with yellow, black, or white printed Chinese text.

Box 9
Folder 4-7
Purse, undated
Box 9
Folder 7
Silk banner (blank), undated

Black silk banner with post, formerly used to display White's pins.

Box 17
Alarm clock, undated

Clock featuring propaganda image of students waving the Little Red Book

Box 14
Chunghwa Cigarettes package, 1980s?

Unopened package from Shanghai Tobacco (Group) Corporation.

Box 8
Cigarette lighter, with Mao's photograph, undated
Box 8
Matchbox from Match Paradise, Hong Kong, 2000s
Box 8
Cigarette case with holographic Mao picture, undated
Box 8
Coated masonite cards with printed images of Mao, 1960s-1970s
Box 8
Red Years deck of cards, 2006

Deck of cards featuring images of Cultural Revolution posters and paintings, with both Chinese and English captions. Printed in China by HCG.

Box 10
Lin fu zhu xi jiang hua zhai lu

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.

Box 10
Zui gao zhi shi / [Mao Zedong zhu] ; Zhongguo ren min jie fang jun zong zheng zhi bu bian, 1970?

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.

Box 10
Nong ye sheng chan ji shu shere ce

Little book with plastic red dustjacket.

Box 10
Mao zhu xi shi ci, 1969?

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.

Box 10
Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, 1966

Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Second edition, printed in English by Foreign Language Press, Peking. Includes foreword by Lin Piao (Lin Biao).

Box 10
Mao zhu xi shi ci zhu jie

Little book with red dustjacket and gold font. Contains printed photographs of Mao, some in color.

Box 10
Zhong guo gong chan dang di shi ci quan guo dai biao da hui wen jian hui bian, 1973

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.

Box 10
Wu chan jie ji wen hua da ge ming you guan wen jian hui ji, 1967-1968?
(2 Volumes)

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.

Box 10
Report to the Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, by Lin Piao, 1969

Little book with red paperback cover; printed in English by the Foreign Languages Press, Peking.

Box 10
Catalog for Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung Volumes I-IV, undated

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.

Box 10
Mao zhu xi zui xin zhi shi

Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Includes manuscript annotations and notes on the last pages of the book.

Box 10
Zhong guo Gongchandang di jiu ci quan guo dai biao da hui wen jian hui bian

Little book, paperback cover with no dustjacket; including manuscript notes on the last page.

Box 10
Zheng zhi gong zuo xue xi wen jian, 1970

政治工作学习文件. Little book with red plastic dustjacket. Includes color photograph of Mao.

Box 10
The Great Socialist Cultural Revolution in China / The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, 1966-1967

Volumes 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9; published in English by the Foreign Languages Press in Peking.

Box 11
Long Live Victory of the Great Cultural Revolution Under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat, 1968

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."

Box 11
On the Proletarian Revolutionaries' Struggle to Seize Power, 1968

Paperback booklet printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.

Box 11
On the Revolutionary "Three-in-One" Combination, 1968

Paperback booklet published in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.

Box 11
Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Communist Party of China, 1971

Paperback booklet published in English by Joint Publishing Co., Hong Kong.

Box 11
On the Long March with Chairman Mao, by Chen Chang-Feng, 1972

Illustrated book, printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.

Box 11
In a Rainstorm, 1974

Illustrated children's book, printed in English by Foreign Languages Press, Peking.

Box 11
Walo Hamlet, 1977

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.

Box 11
Lun lian he zheng fu, Mao Zedong zhu., 1945

論聯合政府. Some pages have bookworm damage.

Box 11
Dang yuan du ben (?), 1945

Bound collection of pages, in Chinese, with Mao's photograph printed on the cover.

Box 11
Nan fang lai xin de shou xin ren / [Bai hua wen yi chu ban she bian ji bu bian], 1965

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.

Box 11
Zen yang zhong za jiao gao liang / Zhongguo ke xue yuan yi chuan yan jiu suo zhu, 1968

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.

Box 11
Mao Zedong si xiang xuan chuan lan bao tou zi liao / Gong ren "bao tou zi liao" bian hui zu bian, 1971

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.

Box 11
Wu si yi lai fan dong pai, di zhu zi chan jie ji xue zhe zun Kong fu gu yan lun ji lu : 1969 nian 11 yue bian, 1973 nian 10 yue zeng bu, 1974

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.

Box 11
Dong Bei Min Bing / Shen yang bu dui zheng zhi bu (Volumes 13-18), 1978

东北民兵 / 沈阳部队政治部. Serial with color photographs.

Box 11
Xin lao dang yuan tuan jie lao bu chou gong zuo zuo bu hao, undated
Box 11
Dong fang hong bao, undated

Book with stab binding; red ink block printing on cover.

Box 11

Historical Note

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."

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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.

Processing Information

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