Welcome! 欢迎!If you were heading to hpc.vcea.net or Visualising China then please rest assured that you are in the right place: we moved to a new platform in 2017 with a new address, and more content. You can find out more about this change, and our work more widely by reading our project blog. Search our collections from the search box top right on this page; browse in Lucky Dip (random sampling of images from over 22,000 images on this site) and through the left-hand column in All Collections, or look into our themed Featured Collections. More search tips are on the All Collections page.  Click/tap on an image to enlarge it.

This project locates, digitalizes, archives, and disseminates online photographs from the substantial holdings of images of modern China held mostly in private hands outside that country. These are often of even greater historic interest than might ordinarily be the case, as the destruction of materials in China through war and revolution in the twentieth century, and especially during the 1966-69 Cultural Revolution, means that there is a relative dearth today of accessible photographic records in China itself. Turmoil in China, and emigration from the country, also led to the development of a large Chinese diaspora. Moreover, tens of thousands of foreign nationals lived and worked in China between the 1840s and the 1950s, and many thousands more visited for longer or shorter periods. Chinese emigrants, foreign residents and visitors alike took, bought or otherwise acquired photographs. Many of these are in libraries and collections overseas, and in addition our research in modern Chinese history has led us to many interesting private collections. Images from both private and public collections are available here, but mostly this site holds photographs of China taken by private individuals, and the greater part have never been shown outside family circles before.

The photographs presented here cover over a century of modern China's history, and a very wide range of places, communities and themes. Some of the collections are quite large, and others tiny: but we have found through experience that even the smallest set of images usually has something quite special within it. There are detailed introductions to the larger collections on dedicated pages, and concise information about others here. We have provided what information came to us with the collection, and we have added metadata to facilitate searching, but in general we have not undertaken much research into the photographs. We would of course be delighted to hear from you, if you have corrections, clarifications, identifications etc to offer us about our holdings. The images are made available with the agreement of their owners to support teaching and learning, and research. There are some restrictions on use, identified with each image, but in general they are presented here for routine use in classroom or home. We ask that you always acknowledge their provenance, if you use them, and identify them appropriately. We would also be happy to hear from you if you use them in teaching, for example: please let us know what you do with them.

Robert Bickers, University of Bristol

Project Director

Our sponsors

The project has involved extensive collaboration with colleagues at the Digital Humanities Research Center at the Institute of History & Philology, Academia Sinica, University of Lincoln, the Institut d'Asie Orientale, Lyon and TGE-Adonis. This new platform has been built by The University of Bristol with additional support from the Chiang Ching-Kuo FoundationThe British Academy, the Swire Trust, John Swire & Sons, Ltd., AHRC,  JISC and the WUN.

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University of Bristol