Archives, Databases and
This section of TransAsia Photography Review presents an annotated list of selected websites that relate to photography from Asia, along with profiles of particular archives of Asia photographs. Readers are encouraged to send information on new or updated sites, or suggestions of archives to profile to TAP Resources Editor Raymond Lum.
On this page:
This project, based at Bristol University, documents the work and staff of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, which was largely foreign-staffed and -administered for the Chinese polity. An adjunct of the project is links to digitized photographs of Customs staff and locales. Several discrete collections are included or linked, including the E. B. Drew Collection at Harvard and the Robert Hart Collection at Queen's University, Belfast. Other collections include images of the Shanghai Municipal Police, portraits of Customs staff, and the collection of G. Warren Swire of the East Asian trading company Butterfield & Swire.
This site focuses on China's rapid transition from a rural to an urban society. The many contemporary photos are complemented by hundreds of historic photos and albums. Among the categories into which the images are arrayed are Tianjin developments and impressions; Tibetan lands; people and other creatures; China's farms; mountains and sites in China. The photographs at this site represent only a part of Hahn's archive, which he will search upon request.
This extensive bibliography was created by researchers at the J. Paul Getty Museum to coincide with the Museum's February to May 2011 exhibition "Brush & Shutter: Early Photography in China" and the accompanying catalog of the same name (ISBN 978-1-60606-054-4). Preliminary matter includes an introduction to the topic and the bibliography. The bibliography itself is divided into the following sections:
The bibliography was created by Shi Chen, Julia Grimes, Tiffany Lee, Jia Tan, and Linlin Wang, and edited by Jeffrey W. Cody and Frances Terpak, who are the curators of the exhibition. A wealth of information not specifically related to China photographs (such as Getty vocabularies for art and architecture, geographic names, collecting and provenance research) can be accessed through links on this site.
Terry Bennett's site includes historical information and full listings of the images in his collection of Chinese photographs from 1844-1911.
Visualising China is a JISC [Joint Information Systems Committee]-funded project to allow users to explore and enhance more than 8000 digitised images of photographs of China taken between 1850 and 1950. It allows access to many previously unseen albums, envelopes and private collections and also major collections such as Historical Photographs of China, the Sir Robert Hart Collection and Joseph Needham's Photographs of Wartime China. These have many sub-collections and albums… Visualising China builds on recent digitisation work undertaken by the Department of Historical Studies at the University of Bristol culminating in the presence of a large, growing collection of historical photographs of China from a variety of sources - academic, commercial and private collections, as well as many small neglected albums found in attics and trunks. Approximately 15,000 digital images were created in total, an increasing number of which are searchable and browsable via Visualising China.
The Life and Camera work of T. Enami
Currents in modern Japanese photography are accessible at this site, "a personal introduction to Japanese photography." Book reviews, photographer profiles, and new books for sale make up the bulk of the site.
This blog about "Japanese Photography, Seen from Abroad" lists current exhibitions and has links to individual photographers, not all of them Japan-centered. Covers from books in the library of the site's creator are shown as images.
More than 760 images from two separate collections are made available for research here. One collection, which includes 195 colored transparencies, was formed by Dr. Donald Kupfer, who was a US naval officer in Okinawa in 1945 and 1946. The other collection was made in 1968 by the U.S. Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands.
This site, developed by Guven Peter Witteveen, is based on the Asian collections of the Library of Congress. The site is designed for use in teaching and features numerous approaches to viewing and use of the images.
Developed by Guven Peter Witteveen, this site is based on the Asian collections of the Library of Congress. It is designed for use in teaching and features numerous approaches to viewing and use of the images, all of which are explained and illustrated.
More than 6000 old photographs of Tibet can be viewed here. “The majority of these photographs were taken by an elite group of men who visited Tibet as civil servants representing the British Government… The photographs featured in this site therefore reflect the topography of the routes used by the British to reach the capital of Tibet (Lhasa) from the Indian side of the Himalayas and are concentrated in south and central Tibet. In many ways these photographs are the product of a particularly British engagement with Tibet at the height of colonialism.” The images are searchable by subject and can be zoomed for more detail. The site allows viewers to create their own albums of selected photos, and it links to interactive maps of Tibet, to full texts of selected diaries and documents, and to three photo albums: Hugh Richardson's photograph album from the Lhasa Mission 1936-1937; Harry Staunton’s undated album; and Evan Nepean’s album. Also contains the photographs of Rabden Lepcha, Charles Bell, and Spencer Chapman; the British Museum’s Hopkinson Collection, and Richardson’s color transparencies, and photographs from expeditions. Includes a link to the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library and an extensive bibliography of publications in English. The site can be searched by dates, people, places, collections, and photographers. From the collections of the Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum.
East Asia (Multi-National)
The East Asia Image Collection is an open-access archive of digitized photographs, negatives, postcards, and slides of imperial Japan (1868-1945), its Asian empire (1895-1945) and occupied Japan (1947-52). Images of Taiwan 台湾, Japan 日本, China 中国, Korea 朝鮮, Manchuria 満州国, and Indonesia are included. The Collection is built around a core of visual materials donated to Skillman Library Special Collections by the family of Gerald and Rella Warner. Images unique to this collection include the Warners' unpublished slides and negatives, made from snapshots taken during their years of US State Department service in Asia (1932-1952). Rare materials include prewar picture postcards, high-quality commercial prints, and colonial era picture books. Each record in the East Asia Image Collection has been assigned subject headings, hyper-linked metadata, and, to the fullest extent possible, historiographical, bibliographical and technical data.
Contemporary photographs from Bangladesh are presented on the Drik (Sanskrit for "Vision") site. Drik's picture library was established in 1989 "...with the vision that photographers and writers from the developing world would be given a chance to portray their people..." As a photo agency for South Asia, Drik is both an archive and a source of stock images. The images in its picture library are not viewable on its website except for a limited number of sample images.
The Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, a privately owned archive based in New Delhi, holds some 90,000 photographs made primarily in South Asia. The collections document "the progress of socio-political life in the sub-continent, through the inter-disciplinary fields of architecture, anthropology, topography, and archaeology, starting from the 1840s and leading up the rise of modern India and the Independence Movement of the 1920s, 30s & 40s." Four of the individual collections can be viewed on the site, but most cannot.
Visual South Asia is an area of research for anthropologist Christopher Pinney of University College, London, particularly the history of photography and chromolithography. His website features downloadable images, including a large number of 19th century studio photographic portraits showing both the recto and verso of the images.
Held at the University of Southern California, the archive “…offers historical images from Protestant and Catholic missionary collections in Britain, Norway, Germany, and the United States. The photographs, which range in time from the middle of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, offer a visual record of missionary activities and experiences in Africa, China, Madagascar, India, Papua-New Guinea, and the Caribbean. The photographs reveal the physical influence of missions, visible in mission compounds, churches, and school buildings, as well as the cultural impact of mission teaching, religious practices, and Western technology and fashions. Indigenous peoples' responses to missions and the emergence of indigenous churches are represented, as are views of landscapes, cities, and towns before and in the early stages of modern development.” The Archive is part of the University’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture.