During the last 150 years numerous Chinese documents were sent from Chinese government officials to American ministers and consuls in China; the latter, in turn, shipped many of them to the secretaries of state in Washington. The frequency of shipment varied according to the degree of importance of the documents, i.e., whether they related to political, economic, social, or cultural matters. They were shipped either (1) as enclosures with diplomatic dispatches and consular reports, or (2) sent separately, segregated as to category, and packed in paper boxes or bound separately in volumes.

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