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In case any BPH members have not come across this yet, one of the largest online collections of historical photographs of China was launched at the University of Bristol over the summer. The Visualising China project, a unique virtual archive of Chinese life, gives users the opportunity to explore and interact with more than 8,000 digitised photographs of China taken between 1850 and 1950.

The site offers free open access to major online collections such as Historical Photographs of China (University of Bristol), the Sir Robert Hart Collection (Queen’s University, Belfast) and Joseph Needham’s Photographs of Wartime China (Needham Research Institute, Cambridge), as well as to previously unseen and private collections and a selected Google Books library of China-related publications.

Users may submit comments or annotations to the image entries, organise images on to their own workbenches, download low-resolution images, and explore the collections by word searches, date ranges, photographer, people depicted, maps and classification terms.

The Visualising China project grew out of five years of digitisation work undertaken by HPC in the Department of Historical Studies, culminating in one of the largest online collections of historical photographs of China, which is still growing.

Images come from a variety of sources – archival (e.g. School of Oriental and African Studies archive; the National Archives; British Steel Collection), commercial (e.g. John Swire and Sons Ltd), as well as privately-held collections, including family albums, prints and negatives, often somewhat neglected in attics and cupboards. The web site was built by ILRT, with additional support from the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Worldwide University Network and the University of Bristol.

You can access the site using the link, and the official press release can be found here.

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Comment by Michael Wong on January 11, 2012 at 18:49

An interesting review of the website can be found here.

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