Unlike conventional “showpiece” museums or the personal collections of scholars, the artifacts held by the Institute of History and Philology are mostly collected from archaeological field excavations carried out in China prior to its relocation to Taiwan, supplimented with artifacts later found during field research in Taiwan or in Fujian Province. These objects were collected mainly for the purpose of academic research.

Classified by materials, the collection can be divided into artifacts made from stone, bone, shell, ceramic, jade, and bronze as well as wooden slips, and archives recorded on paper. The collection spans the breadth of Chinese history, from the Paleolithic Period to the later imperial dynasties of the Ming and Ch'ing, and modern times. As for regional variety, the majority of the pieces originated in Mainland China, others are from Europe or Taiwan.

Various books and ink rubbings from the Institute's Fu Ssu-nien Library and the Archives of the Grand Secretariat from the Ming and Ch'ing dynasties are held in the Ming and Ch'ing Records room. In addition to these, over 140,000 pieces are stored in the Institute itself. They include:
 
  1. Over 100,000 pieces excavated by the Academia Sinica during the time when the Institute was still in China, approximately 70% of which are from the Shang period ruins near Anyang, Honan Province. In addition to these, there are also artifacts from archaeological finds in Hsin-ts'un, Chunsheng, Honan Province, Liu-li-ko in Hui-hsien, Shan-piao-chen in Hsisheng, Ch'eng-tzu-yai in Chi-nan, Shantung Province, Jih-chao Liang-ch'eng-chen, Fo-yeh-miao in Dunhuang, Kansu Province, the Wuwei Lama Wan and the Minch'in Sanchiao Ch'eng.
  2. Over 7000 pieces dating from the Paleolithic period, originally from the Mortillet collection.
  3. A number of bronzes dating from the Shang and Chou dynasties, purchased by Profesor Fu Ssu-nien in Peking.
  4. Over 13,000 wooden slips from Edson-gol, dating back to the Han dynasty.
  5. Over 1000 items relating to ethnic minority groups in China.