The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) collections in Cambridge University Library include over 2213 metres of official, and other related, publications in both serial and monograph format. These publications date mostly from the mid 19th century to the end of British involvement, but sometimes beyond, and include many rare and internationally significant reports.
Over 30,500 items have been described in our online catalogues – the focus being on official, and in some cases commercial, reports published locally within the colonies. Those relating to Southeast Asia include Colonial Blue Books, Directories and Yearbooks, Staff and Civil Lists and material published locally within Malaysia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, the Chinese Treaty Ports, and Korea (Chosen). They should be requested in the Rare Books Reading Room.
Classmark stem searching is recommended as it will reveal the entire holdings of a serial more easily than other search methods. Although the title of a serial may have changed several times the stem classmark will usually remain the same. It is also particularly suited to searching for resources on a specific geographic region, or a small number of regions.
Click on one of the regions listed below to discover which locally-published official publications are held in the RCS collections. Then search Newton (the library catalogue) by classmark stem. i.e. select Basic search, enter classmark stem in Search box and using drop-down menu select search within Classmark. Holdings are particularly impressive for Malaysia, Singapore, North Borneo and Hong Kong.
Key to classmark searching:
The RCS.L. part of the classmark refers to ‘locally-published official publications’ (meaning those published in the colony). It is followed either directly by the country classification number or by a further letter or series of letters representing the type of resource. For example:
= RCS.L.[Blue Book].[country classification no. (38=Hong Kong)].[year covered]
Good runs of Blue Books are held for the Straits Settlements (RCS.L.BB.31.) and Hong Kong (RCS.L.BB.38.); also for Mauritius (RCS.L.BB.483.) and Sri Lanka RCS.L.BB.3.)
There are also good runs of yearbooks and directories.
= RCS.YD.[Yearbook or Directory].[country classification – Asia], such as RCS.YD.2.2
The Directory & chronicle for China, Japan, Corea, Indo-China, Straits Settlements, Malay States, Siam, Netherlands India, Borneo, the Philippines, &c. RCS holding: 1910, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930, 1934, 1937, 1939
Note that there is no L before the YD.
The RCS also holds particularly good runs of staff and civil lists for Hong Kong (RCS.SC.38.) and India (RCS.SC.22)
= RCS.SC.[Staff or Civil list].[country classification]
Again, there is no L before the SC.
=RCS.L.[country classification. no. (Singapore)].[alphabetic subdivision (Marine Survey Department)].[year covered]
An entire classmark would thus read:
RCS.L.34.E1.1951 =RCS.L.[country classification no. (North Borneo)].[alphabetic subdivision (Education)].[year covered]
RCS.L.38.1. signifies a run of legislative council papers or similar documents covering activity in the entire colony – in this case Hong Kong. These documents precede the alphabetic sequence.
For additional guidance on searching our online catalogues for official publications, please refer to Tips for searching on the RCS Official Publications Project website.