Historical Photographs of China

This blog showcases the work and interests of the University of Bristol’s Historical Photographs of China project. Launched in 2006, and led by Robert Bickers, it aims to locate, digitize and publish online through its open access platform, historical photographs of China mainly in the hands of families who formerly had connections to China. We borrow collections, make copies and return the originals. For a variety of reason, these materials form an important surrogate for materials lost during the course of China’s tumultuous twentieth century. They also provide records of its historic built environment, culture, society and politics. The platform currently showcases barely a quarter of the materials that we have digitized, which range in date from 1857 to 1967, but which are mostly concentrated in period 1880s-1930s.

To find about about the project please visit the site.  You can also find us on TwitterFacebook, and Sina Weibo, and you can find a short film about the project here, and a BBC Radio 4 programme about us here.

As well as the core platform we also built the The Visualising China online tool. Visualising China is a web-based resource that allows users to explore more than 9,000 digitised images of historical photographs of China from across our own platform, and two external collections held at the Needham Research Institute, and Harvard-Yenching Library. This tool, aimed at both researchers and more general users, brings information from related collections together with an interface that offers cross-searching and intuitive ways to filter image, video and textual resources according to time and geography.

Users can also visualise the connections between resources in the collection, as well as seeing images in their geographic context.

We also invite and support user contributions. Add general comments or suggest specific new information.

Our funders

Visualising China was developed with support from JISC. Support for the project currently comes from the British Academy, through its Academy Research Projects scheme, and from the Arts & Humanities Research Council, through an award to the British Inter-university China Centre.