New content: Hedda Morrison, Joseph Needham, Edward Bangs Drew and Claude L. Pickens Jr.

We are pleased to be able to announce today that we have successfully migrated the content from the Visualising China platform into our Historical Photographs of China site. In practical terms this means an almost 50 per cent increase in the number of photographs hosted in HPC and includes 6,129 images from the Hedda Morrison, Edward Bangs Drew, and Rev. Claude L. Pickens, Jr. collections. This has been accomplished with the kind consent of Harvard-Yenching Library, which contains the originals, and which placed them online within the Harvard College Library Digital Collections. We are very grateful to our colleagues at Harvard for agreeing to this, and to facilitating our access to the material. Our original plan was to host these collections within Visualising China, but technical problems mean that we will need to close down that site which, as some users may have discovered, has become unstable. As of the near future the Visualising China site will simply host this blog.

The addition of nearly 4,700 photographs from 28 albums of Hedda Morrison’s photographs of north China is tremendously exciting. Taken roughly between 1933 and 1946, they provide an astonishing record of life in north China at this time. A quite different part of that world is captured in 1079 photographs from the Rev. Claude L. Pickens, Jr. Collection of Muslim West China in the 1920s-1930s. The Edward Bangs Drew Collection complements our earlier collections, such as the Bowra albums, as it contains almost 400 photographs from the 1870s-1900s collected by Drew, a Harvard graduate who rose to a senior position in the Imperial Maritime Customs Service. In addition, we have, with permission, also incorporated almost 1,200 photographs taken or collected by Joseph Needham in China in 1943-46 during his wartime work there on behalf of the British Council. For technical reasons we were unable to migrate the photographs from the Robert Hart Collections at Queen’s University Belfast that we had hosted within Visualising China.

Although the Visualising China platform, launched in 2011, has been overtaken by new technical developments, and by digital initiatives at our partner institutions, the relaunched Historical Photographs of China platform has embedded within it the key features that made it such a powerful and attractive tool: cross collection searching, and a Creative Commons Licence framework that allows for non-commercial reuse of the low-resolution digital copies that we are able to make available.

Historical Photographs of China continues to grow as we digitalise fresh photographs, negatives and slides offered to us and add them to the site. Currently we are working through a large backlog of material, and aim to have significant new collections available before too long. Recent additions include the Peter Klein and Stanley Wyatt-Smith Collections and part of the Stanfield Family Collection. Waiting in the queue are photographs of wartime Yan’an from the Michael and Hsiao-Li Lindsay Collection, and colour slides of mid-1960s China from the Andrew Collection, and more, much more, besides.

Meanwhile, enjoy.

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