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Turkic publications from Xinjiang at the Hoover Institution Library & Archives

The Cataloging Journey of Uyghur- and Kazakh-Language Newspapers from Xinjiang, China *

Hoover Newspaper Collections

Newspapers quickly became an integral component of what was first known as the Hoover War Collection after it was created in 1919 as a repository for materials relating to World War I and interrelated events across Europe. For decades, the Hoover Library, now known as the Hoover Institution Library & Archives, regularly collected newspapers from all over the world. Today, the Library & Archives’ expansive collection of newspapers includes 63 individual newspaper collections, spanning from the 19th to the 21st centuries. During an onsite move project from 2018‒22, librarians fully cataloged the 4,131 unique titles within these newspaper collections and made them searchable in SearchWorks, Stanford’s online catalog; WorldCat, the world's largest unified catalog; and the Online Archive of California (OAC). (Learn more about Library & Archives’ newspaper collections in our research guide, Newspaper Collections of the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.) 

card catalog of Shinjang giziti

Old catalog card for Shingjang giziti

Hidden Materials

One of the Hoover Institution Library & Archives’ many newspaper collections is the Turkey Newspaper Collection, which is comprised of 105 titles and includes émigré titles in Ottoman and Modern Turkish, French, English, German, Russian, Kazakh, and Uyghur. Issues span from 1867 to 1977.

Within this collection, there are especially rare newspapers in the Uyghur and Kazakh languages that were printed in Arabic script and published in Xinjiang, China, which has been known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region since 1955. 

Although physically present in Hoover’s library stacks for over 50 years, the existence of these materials related to the history of the Uyghur and Kazakh ethnic groups residing in China has been practically hidden from researchers because these titles lacked robust and complete online catalog records.

Masthead of Shingjang giziti newspaper

Masthead of Shingjang giziti [شىڭجاڭ گېزېتى]

Traditionally, Hoover librarians classified newspaper titles based on their country of origin, by their language of publication, or according to their script. Since Uyghur and Kazakh are in the Turkic language family, these titles were added to the “Turkish Newspaper Collection” upon their first arrival to the Library & Archives. Although their exact provenance is uncertain, our assumption, and the assumption of researchers who have examined these newspapers, is that they most likely came to the Library & Archives from Turkey, which may have also influenced the decision to place them in this collection. Upon their arrival, these titles received card catalog record descriptions, which meant that they were only discoverable while searching the physical card catalog, rather than an online database. The card catalog was eventually replaced with an online catalog, SearchWorks (and WorldCat). What made discovery of these titles even more difficult was that for many years the existing online catalog records for these Uyghur and Kazakh titles lacked proper descriptions and robust metadata. Researchers searching for languages like “Kazakh” or “Uyghur,” or for the location “Xinjiang,” would have been unable to locate these titles.

It was only after Hoover librarians updated the newspaper catalog records and published them on the online public access catalogs SearchWorks, WorldCat, and the OAC that these rare publications became truly visible once again. Soon after these cataloging efforts were completed in 2022, the effects of making these hidden publications visible became evident; researchers interested in Uyghur and Kazakh history very quickly began requesting access to these titles and began sharing their existence with like-minded researchers. 

* Kovačević, O. & Taylor. R. (2023, April 27). Making the Hidden Visible: The Cataloging Journey of Uyghur- and Kazakh-Language Newspapers from Xinjiang, China. Hoover Institution Library & Archives.