The genealogical records of Joseon’s royal house used to be managed by an agency known as “Iwangjik.” In 1918, a new library was built for use by Iwangjik, inside Changdeokgung Palace, and a wooden tablet carved with the name “Jangseogak” was hung at the façade of this library. Since then, ‘Jangseogak’ became a proper noun designating the library of the Yi Royal House of Joseon.
- Managing the Book Collection of the Royal House following the Annexation of Joseon by Japan
In 1908, Emperor Gojong decided to build a new library to house some 100,000 volumes of books, held at Gyujanggak and other institutions, which included annals of past kings and other royal house-related records, declaring them “Imperial House Book Collection.” However, Korea was officially annexed to Japan one year later, in 1910, and this project never saw the light of day.
- Management of the Royal House Book Collection by Iwangjik
In February 1911, a new government agency called “Iwangjik” was created, and the Library Department of this agency was charged with the responsibility of managing the Imperial House Book Collection. In June of the same year, the Library Department of Iwangjik set up a library named “Iwangjik Jangseogak,” and in 1915, had another building constructed inside Changdeokgung. All books held by the institution were relocated to this four-story building, located southeast of Nakseonjae. The library came to be referred to as “Jangseogak” from 1918, when a wooden tablet bearing this name was hung on the front of this building.
- Managing Jangseogak Collection after the End of Japanese Rule
In November 1945, the US Military Government Office re-organized Iwangjik, renaming it “Former Royal Palace Administration Office” and putting it in charge of the Jangseogak collection. In June 1955, the responsibility over Jangseogak was transferred to the Changgyeongwon Garden Management Office. Subsequently, with the establishment of the Cultural Properties Administration in October 1961, the new government agency took over the charge of managing the Jangseogak collection. In 1969, a new office responsible for managing the Jangseogak Archives was created under the Cultural Properties Administration. In 1981, in accordance with Presidential Decree No. 10,588 reorganizing the Cultural Properties Administration, the Jangseogak Archives Office was closed by the Cultural Properties Committee, and its ancient book collection was moved to the Academy of Korean Studies where it remains today.
- The new Jangseogak building
Constructed by the need to provide a new venue for the systematic classification, research and more efficient use of the Jangseogak collection of old documents, the new building of the Jangseogak Archives opened on July 5, 2011, as a new house of around 150,000 documents from the Joseon royal court and prominent scholar families.