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 the Editor.

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Abstracts and Summaries of Symposia, Conferences, Panels and Workshops
on topics related to photography from Asia

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Duke University Libraries

Sidney D. Gamble Photographs

A collection of over 5,000 photographs taken between 1908 and 1932 by sociologist, China scholar, and amateur photographer, Sydney D. Gamble. The photographs, primarily of daily life in China, were part of Gamble’s pioneering social survey work. While some of the images—particularly those of architecture, such as Nanjing University Main Building (1924-27)—feel almost de rigueur, many are intimate—Woman & baby (1924-27), Opium burning, Pipes (1917-1919)—and show Gamble’s deep affinity for China and its people.

In 2014, nearly 600 hand-colored glass lantern slides were digitized and added to the online collection. Gamble would have used these slides when lecturing in the U.S. While it is unclear whether he colored them himself or instructed the color choices, these "enhanced" images provide an even better sense of what China was like one hundred years ago. The collection also includes Gamble’s photographs from Korea, Japan, Hawaii, San Francisco, and Russia.

Friedrich Carl Peetz Photographs

127 black-and-white ambrotypes from an album belonging to Peetz (a German naval officer) that document German involvement in the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900). The images have been scanned individually and as album pages and may be viewed both ways. The images may be browsed via a thumbnail list or searched by format, subject, and location. An "Item Info" page lists image titles and locations in English and Chinese, and captions in English and (the original) German.

Lucy Monroe Calhoun Family Photographs and Papers

From the website: "… contains loose photographs, a photograph album, Lucy Monroe Calhoun’s writings and papers, along with Monroe family papers. The photographs include 740 loose black-and-white photographs, generally developing-out paper or gelatin sliver prints, as well as 7 negatives, and one slide, all featuring images of Lucy’s residences, locations in and around Peking (Beijing), and locations elsewhere in China, Cambodia, Japan, and the Philippines between 1910 and 1932. A subset of 15 photographs contains images captured during the Peking riots of 1912. The photograph album (60 pages) contains 94 albumen prints featuring images taken during the Calhoun party’s travel between China and the United States in 1911, via Siberia. The Lucy Monroe Calhoun papers series features primarily Calhoun’s writings, including her 276-page memoir of her life in China (1910-1936), five typescript articles on China, as well as her letters to family members, commercial postcards, and printed material."

This collection is available by request (48 hours notice required) for on-site research only.

Robert White Collection of Chinese Cultural Revolution Materials

From the website: "Robert White is an Appalachian State University professor who studied and taught in China during the 1980s and 1990s. The collection contains pins, posters, objects, textiles, and printed material, largely produced for a Chinese audience, promoting the ideals and persona of Mao Zedong, the establishment of the People's Republic of China, and the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976)." The printed material includes a "Little Red Book" containing quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. This particular copy has "pen annotations crossing out Lin Biao's name and a cropped printed photograph of Mao, presumably removing Lin Biao's image."

This collection is available by request (48 hours notice required) for on-site research only.

Joseph Needham Collection

This archive, based at Cambridge University, includes photographs made by the historian of Chinese science Joseph Needham in Sichuan and Northwest China in the 1940s, during his research there.

China Through the Eyes of CIM Missionaries: A Lantern Slide & Glass Plate Negative Collection
The Library of Hong Kong Baptist University was given 166 hand-tinted lantern slides by the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College. Covering the 1900s to the 1930s, the slides depict portraits, landscapes, architecture, social conditions, and economic activities. The slides originally were shown in churches in the U.S. to illustrate China Inland Mission (CIM; since 1964 named Overseas Missionary Alliance). The addition of negatives brings the number of items digitized to 225. Each image is fully identified and searchable. The website provides information on optimal viewing environments (a particular version of JavaScript).

Chinese Maritime Customs Project Photo Archives

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.

History of Photography in China, 1839-ca. 1911: Selected Annotated Bibliography

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:

  • • History of Photography, with sub-sections on surveys; photographers; missionaries; scientists, travelers, and amateurs; early publications; postcards; websites.
  • • The Interpretation of History Through Photographs, with sub-sections on sites (cities and other places) and themes, defined here as books and articles that use photographs as primary visual resources for understanding themes that include portraiture, the practice and role of photography in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, wars, courtesan culture, commodities, and customs.
  • • Published Collections

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.

Inter Art Center and Gallery 映艺术中心

Established in China in 2006, Inter Art Center holds exhibitions, publishes photobooks, and collects and conserves both “classic” and contemporary photographs. It holds book launches, exhibitions, film screenings, seminars, and other public events, and serves as agent for some well-known Chinese photographers. The Center also publishes Pixel, a quarterly journal devoted to collecting photographs. The website has both Chinese and English versions.

John Van Antwerp MacMurray Photo and Film Collection
John van Antwerp MacMurray was a US Foreign Service Officer who served as Secretary of the American Legation in China (1913-1917) and as Minister to China (1925-1929), among other postings; he also was an enthusiastic photographer. His papers, held in the Princeton University Library’s Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections, include 55 boxes of photographs, dating from 1849 to 1955 and taken or acquired by him. One box contains photos of China and other locales in Asia, including Thailand and the Philippines. Also in the collection are films MacMurray made in China, Korea, and the Philippines. The collection of papers and still and moving images is open for on-site research, but does not appear to have been digitized.

New The Photographic Heritage Foundation
Established in Hong Kong in 2008, The Photographic Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization that seeks to “locate and identify [Asian] photographs in archives and private collections; to revive their context and meaning; and to publish them in books, exhibitions and online.”
The Foundation’s website features a catalogue of its publications to date, with links to reviews and a purchasing option. “Gallery” offers high-quality views of images from four of the Foundation’s books, including its latest publication, Marjorie Doggett’s Singapore (Edward Stokes, 2019), which is also reviewed in the spring 2020 issue of TAP Review. The “Planned Books” tab promises a peek at what’s coming from the Foundation, but the page seems to be incomplete. The “Design and Print” section of the website includes a tour through the technical development of a book, from photo editing to final printing, as well as “Book Printing - A Photo Story:” twenty images of the sequential stages in printing books.
This blog, published by Marine Cabos with text in English, French and Chinese, introduces a range of historical and contemporary photographers who are working or have worked in China.

Thomas Hahn's Docu-Images

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.

Three Shadows Photography Art Center 三影堂摄影艺术中心

The Center, founded in 2007 in Beijing’s flourishing art district, is dedicated to exhibiting photography and video arts, and publishing books and catalogs of exhibitions held at the Center. The Center also conducts photographic research and training through exhibitions, lectures, and workshops.

Historical Photographs of China

From the website: "This project aims to locate, digitalize, archive, and disseminate online … images of modern China held mostly in private hands outside the 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."
The HPC project was launched in 2006. In 2017, a new website (hosted at the University of Bristol) was created to showcase the 18,000+ images from the archive, dated 1857 to 1967, that are currently published online. It is searchable by collection, photographer, keyword, and a "Lucky Dip" feature, which provides a random sampling of images from across the collections. A recent sampling ranged from Man stirring oil in a metal vat in a sesame oil shop (Hedda Morrison Collection) to A group including Fu Bingchang (Fu Bingchang Collection). Certain collections, such as the Chinese Maritime Customs Collection (also annotated on this page) are accessible via a "Featured Collections" tab. 


Metadata Database of Japanese old Photographs in Bakumatsu-Meiji Period

The Japanese old Photographs of the Bakumatsu-Meiji Periods collection, held at the Nagasaki University Library, contains approximately 7,000 photographs taken in Japan from 1853 to 1912. For the sake of preservation, the original photographs are not viewable by the public; however, this database represents the entire collection and is searchable by photographer, category & key word (e.g. View & mountain), and location of the photograph. This last feature is particularly useful: clicking on a map of Japan brings up a menu with a list of cities by province. Selecting one of these leads to a thumbnail list of all the photographs in the collection taken in that city, along with their ID number, title, and photographer. Clicking on the thumbnail yields more detailed information, including a brief description/ history of the image.

An "About this Site" page includes a link to the University’s High-Definition Image Database of Old Photographs of Japan, which contains 501 high-def images (predominantly from Nagasaki) that can be viewed at "a high level of detail even at magnifications of five to ten times on the computer screen" and offer "a tour of Japan as it greeted a new age of modernization in the late Edo and Meiji Periods."

This site is viewable in English and Japanese.

The Meiji and Taisho Eras in Photographs

This digital archive of roughly 1,300 photographs taken in Tokyo, Kansai, and Tohoku between 1868 and 1926 provides glimpses of Japan before rapid modernization, war damage and reconstruction, and natural disasters changed the face of the country. (From the website: "In many regions, there are no longer any remnants of the past scenery and nothing in the modern scenery which evokes or recalls the former appearance.") The collection is held by the National Diet Library and focuses on well-known buildings and tourist locations as well as scenery from the Meiji-Taisho period. It is searchable by map, category (e.g. temples and shrines), and column—mini-articles on the history behind some of the images. A "Posted Materials" page contains scans of the book or newspaper pages from which the images were taken, so one can see them in their original context.

This site is viewable in English and Japanese.


Based in Tokyo, PH supports emerging Japanese photography, primarily through the sale of photobooks and its participation in art book fairs.

Shashasha 写々者

This site promotes the study of both old and newer Japanese photography through the sale of books and the free viewing of digital books via an app for the iPad and the reproduction of photobooks and prints.

Alfred Hussey Collection: Japan’s Constitution Photo Album
“This album commemorates the enactment of Japan's constitution…It was produced by The Society for the Popularization for the Constitution [Kenpō Fukyū Kai]. Kenpō Fukyū Kai was founded on December 1, 1946, as a result of pressure from occupation officials to ‘thoroughly popularize the spirit of the new Constitution through activities to raise awareness of it so as to touch every aspect of the lives of the citizens [from the website].” The society continued to carry out its tasks for a year or so after the 1947 promulgation of the constitution.” Hussey was a lawyer and part of Gen. MacArthur’s team to devise a post-War constitution for Japan.

The Life and Camera work of T. Enami
The Japanese photographer Nobukuni Enami (1859-1929) preferred to be known professionally as "T. Enami." This extensive but intentionally chaotic website on Enami and his ouvre contains some 300 of Enami’s  photographs and several of his advertisements and price lists.  This site includes information on and links to Enami photographs in various collections, most of them viewable online. Pending publication of Oechsle’s book on Enami, this site will remain the definitive but somewhat disorganized source on the photographer.

Japan Exposures

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.

Images of Okinawa After WWII

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.

The Tom Burnett Collection
The Tom Burnett Collection contains several thousand Japanese photographs taken between 1859 and 1900. This website offers a sampling of the collection and an extensive list of books and articles on vintage Japanese photography.


NewThe Postcard Collection of Colonial Korea

This collection includes 8,000 postcard images depicting the cultural, industrial, and technological status of Korea during the first half of the 20th century. It is available at several university libraries, including the University of Chicago.


Carter Holton Film Collection (Digital Himalaya)
The Rev. Carter Holton (1901-1973) was a missionary to Tibetans and Muslims in Western China from 1923to 1949. This video, held by the Christian and Missionary Alliance, which had sent Holton and his wife to China, has been digitized by the Digital Himalaya project at Cambridge University. The voice-over narration was added in 1995 by Robert Carlson, whose father was Holton’s friend and fellow missionary. It appears that the film was spliced together from several short films made by Holton. The Harvard-Yenching Library also holds a copy of the original film and, in addition, has most of Holton’s original photographs and his 34mm Ektachrome slides. The Library has digitized the photos and slides and will eventually make them available online.

Frederick Williamson Collection on Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet
Williamson was a British Political Officer in Sikkim, Bhutan, and Tibet in the 1930s. His approximately 1700 photographs and twenty-three reels of movies are held in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge University. Twenty-two of the  photographs and all of the films  have been digitized and can be viewed online. This is part of the Digital Himalaya website, which is digitizing archival collections containing ethnographic information on the Himalayan region.

The Tibet Album

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)

East Asia Image Collection, Lafayette College

East Asia Image Collection, Lafayette College Links to online photo collections on Imperial Japan, Manchuria, Taiwan, Korea, and Karafuto (a Japanese prefecture from 1907 to 1945 and now a part of Russia) are provided in this site. Many of the links are to the collections of Japan’s National Diet Library and are in Japanese. A separate link is to the open-access East Asian Image Collection (photographs, stereocards, picture books, postcards, negatives, slides) of Imperial Japan and its empire, plus Indonesia, held in nineteen named collections in the Skillman Library at Lafayette College. "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." Several essays and blog posts relate to East Asian images, primarily postcards, including photo postcards. An extensive bibliography of publications in East Asian and Western language leads to additional resources and interpretations. Also given is a list of important links to "Digital Photograph Archives (abbreviated)." A separate category of links leads to archives of moving images, a number of which either include or focus on East Asia.

Zen Photo Gallery 禪フォト

“Zen Foto aims to be a bridge between Japan and China and a platform for the best of classic and contemporary photography from both countries.” Zen publishes books of contemporary photography and also sells rare, used books of Japanese photography. The site also includes a blog about current photographers represented by the gallery.

South Asia

The STARS collective
The STARS collective (Studies in Tamil Studio Archives and Society) is a multidisciplinary research initiative which aims to investigate the history of Tamil studio photography between the 1880s and the 1980s, and to create the first digital archive of Tamil commercial studio photography. Examples of this work can be found on the website.



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

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.

Christopher Pinney

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.

Indian Memory Project

The Project seeks to preserve and share the history of a “largely undocumented society and sub-continent” through a unique collection of photographs and letters submitted from personal archives, each accompanied by an explicatory narrative written by the contributor. Founded in 2010 by the photographer Anusha Yadav, and limited to images created before 1991 (pre-digital images), this curated archive serves as a repository of collective memory, giving glimpses of cultural landmarks, historical events and intimate family moments alike.

International Mission Photography Archive

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.
The photographs in the Archive appear not to be available online yet, but a press release states that a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in March 2012 will allow the Archive to catalog, digitize, and post online its collection of photographs.

Southeast Asia

Spirit of Friendship

Launched in October, 2017 by The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre (Ho Chi Minh City), this website aims to chronicle the "role and contribution of artist friendships in furthering the development of experimental languages in Vietnam, since 1975". The website profiles twenty-two artist groups, from Gang of Five (1983, Ha Noi) to Chaosdowntown (2016, Ho Chi Minh), that have "sought innovative means of building audiences for art within a socio-political context that clandestinely monitors their public (and at times private), activity." A "Resource" page features a timeline that includes significant events in the history of Vietnam, from 1975 to present, and in its art scene. Also featured are a selection of essays, including Spirit of Friendship, a curatorial essay by Zoe Butt, the Factory’s Artistic Director, which introduces the reader to Vietnam’s experimental art scene.

This site is viewable in English and Vietnamese.

The SouthEast Asian Images & Texts (SEAiT) Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison,
by Larry Ashmun


Joel M. Halpern Laotian Slide Collection
Some 3000 b&w and colored slides taken in Laos by anthropologist Joel Halpern are organized in this vast site by categories: Buddhist monks, celebrations, ethnic groups, Hmong, Mekong River, nobility, and temples. The images also can be viewed as a complete group without categorization. Each image is annotated with information on place and date and a description of contents.

Writing Photography|se asia
This is a group writing blog where people can post reviews and comments on photographic practices as they relate to Southeast Asia. Currently, there is an extensive review of Bandung Photo Showcase, 2015 and a list of Indonesian photobooks from 2014. The blog is maintained by the photographer/critic Zhuang Wubin, whose earlier extensive blog on Southeast Asian photography is at and contains numerous notices of little-known photobooks and exhibitions.

Zhuang Wubin

Zhuang Wubin - photographer, independent researcher and member of the TAP Review editorial board - posts a substantial array of short writings on photography from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam on this informative blog. His own photographic projects and activities can also be viewed here.

West Asia

Arab Documentary Photography Program

Al-Mashriq (the Levant): Cultural Riches from the Countries of the Eastern Mediterranean
A “non-political, non-sectarian, non-commercial” server maintained by faculty at Østfold University College, Halden (Norway), providing “cultural multimedia information” from the Levant. The above URL is to the Photographic Documentation page, which includes links to thousands of images, both historic and modern, from Lebanon, Syria, Jerusalem, and other locations in the Levant. The page is somewhat unusual in that many of the photographs are culled from private collections, offering a more intimate view of these locations.

Arab Image Foundation
The website of the Arab Image Foundation (est. 1997 in Beirut) showcases 20,000 images from its collection of over 600,000 mid-19th century to present day photographs from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora. Information about MEPPI (the Middle East Photograph Preservation Initiative) is also available.

Middle East Photograph Archive, University of Chicago
This collection of historic images of the Middle East, which date mainly from the latter half of the 19th century, has been made fully searchable and viewable online. The majority of photographs in the collection are albumen-based, capturing scenes of 19th century life and documenting medieval and ancient monuments. Of particular note are the images of 19th century Cairo, including views of Pharaonic and Islamic monuments unobscured by modern construction. Each online entry includes a brief description of the image, in addition to listing the photographer, production date, process, mounted/ unmounted, size, and acquisition year.

Iran in Photographs

The Smithsonian Institution’s Freer and Sackler Galleries hold over a thousand prints and glass plate negatives of Persia dating from the late 19th century and the early decades of the 20th. The images were made by Antonin Sevruguin and other Persian photographers and form the largest collection of Sevruguin’s photographs outside of Iran. This site features essays on Sevruguin and photographer Abdullah Mirza Qajar, and albums by other photographers. Illustrated essays on the site are devoted to an introduction to photography in Iran; photographic manipulation techniques employed by Sevruguin; a record of how Myron Bement Smith, an Islamic specialist, founded the Islamic Archives as “ a depository of primarily photographic materials for scholars and government agencies operating in Islamic countries” and how he acquired Sevruguin’s photographs (some of the photos on this site are from other collectors); and a list of further readings in English, Persian, and French. The Galleries request that anyone with more information on the identification of the images contact them.

NAR Photos
An independent collective of Turkish photographers established in 2003 that aims to “produce photo reportages with the idea of trying to change the situation instead of admitting and protecting the existing circumstances.” Work by members of the collective touches on topics such as “Aging in Turkey,” “Refugees in Berlin,” and “Life in Ancient Taron.” While documentary in nature, many of the images on the site are strikingly beautiful.

Saudi Aramco World Digital Image Archive
This online archive contains over 40,000 current and historic images of the Middle East and Islamic world from the magazine Aramco World (1964 – 2000) / Saudi Aramco World (2000 – present). Search categories include: architecture, Islam, history, education, Aramco, science/technology, culture/arts/crafts, water, rural, urban, animals/nature, industry, work, and people. It is also possible to search by magazine issue. Results are viewable only as thumbnail images unless one registers on the site. It should be noted that Saudi Aramco is the national oil corporation of Saudi Arabia; the magazine—its “flagship publication”—is published in Houston, Texas.

Project SAVE: Armenian Photograph Archives, Inc.
“Preserving, protecting, and promoting Armenian history through the photograph,” this collection of over 40,000 historic and modern images—along with oral history audiotapes—is located in Watertown, MA. Online access to the complete collection is a work in progress; a premier digital exhibit, “The Spirit of Survival,” is due to go live in 2016. For now, a selection of photographs is viewable on the organizations’ Facebook, Flickr and Tumbler pages.

Asia (Multi-Region)

William Hillman Shockley Photographs

From the website: "… contains over 2200 black-and-white photographs taken by W.H. (William Hillman) Shockley during his world travels as a mining engineer between the years 1896 to 1909. Locations include China (including Manchuria); Korea; India; Japan; Australia; and Russia (including Siberia); London; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco; as well as several other south Asian locations. Subjects featured include local citizens and officials, and soldiers; Europeans…; indigenous peoples and their communities; mining operations…; ancient walls and forts; religious structures and art; street scenes; remote hamlets and camps; fields, rivers, mountains…, and other landscapes; domestic animals; and caravans and other forms of transportation, including railroads."

This collection is available by request (48 hours notice required) for on-site research only.

This site features Terry Bennett’s collection of 19th and early 20th century photography from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia, along with Bennett’s research and writing.

Asia Art Archive

Since its founding in 2000, the Asia Art Archive has been recording the state of contemporary art, including photography, throughout Asia, with a view to encouraging study and dialogue. The Archive maintains a free collection of physical and digital objects and promotes the study and collecting of contemporary Asian art through residencies, lectures, exhibitions, and symposia. “Newly accessible [online] resources include scanned images, correspondences, and artists’ personal documents, as well as streaming audio and video of performance art, artist talks, lectures, and other art events.”

International Mission Photography Archive (IMPA)
“The historical images in the International Mission Photography Archive come from Protestant and Catholic missionary collections held at a number of centers in Britain, Europe, and North America. The photographs record missionary endeavors and reflect the missionaries’ experience of communities and environments abroad. There are examples of the physical influence the mission presence brought –seen in churches and their surrounding settlements-- as well as examples of the cultural impact of mission teaching and Western influence, including schools, hospitals, training programs, Christian practices, and Western technology and fashions. The pictures document indigenous peoples' responses to missions and the history of indigenous churches which are often now a major force in society. They also offer views of traditional culture, landscapes, cities, and towns before and in the early stages of modern development.”

Africa and Asia are the regions most represented in the Archive, which draws on the holdings of thirteen mission archives and libraries and was assembled in a project at the University of California, San Diego. The collections are searchable, limited to those photographs that have been digitized. Each of the photographs is fully identified, providing information not immediately ascertainable from the image itself.


Asia Photographs at Harvard,
by Raymond Lum

Asian & Pacific Studies - Historical Photographs

Dr. Matthew Ciolek has built a database of links to more than 100 digital archives of historical photographs from Asia, searchable alphabetically by the name of the photographer or the name of the archive. While he no longer actively maintains it, most sites can still be accessed through his alphabetical list. The database includes links to the following collections, among many others:

Asia Pacific Photography

This website includes an evolving online gallery of early photographs from a number of Asian countries, as well as a database of Asian magazine photographs and early photographic books from The National Gallery of Australia.

Asian Photography Blog

East and Southeast Asian photography are the focus of this blog created and maintained by Ch'ng Yaohong in Singapore. In addition to comments from bloggers, the site notes current exhibitions and features some of the images in those exhibitions; also included are calls for submissions and announcements of relevant festivals.

The British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia

The Association records the locations of cemeteries and monuments of the some two million Europeans buried in the nations of South Asia and some locales in Southeast Asia, along with the inscriptions on headstones. The Association publishes cemetery and church records containing names, inscriptions, and biographical notes on individual tombs and gravestones and supports local people active in the restoration and conservation of European graveyards. Photographs of many of those graves, including those of British military personnel who died in service abroad, are found on this site. From the site's Links page, one can view, inter alia, the stone markers in the Old British Cemetery in Bencoolen, West Sumatra.

Endangered Archives Projects, British Library

The projects seek to digitize endangered archives around the world so as to both preserve them and make them available for research. The original materials remain in the nominating countries, with copies deposited at the British Library. Access to the materials varies. Among photographic archives digitized to date are several from Mongolia, Laos, and Nepal.

Invisible Ph t grapher Asia
“Invisible Photographer Asia (IPA) was founded in 2010, and since then has grown into a leading and influential platform for Photography and Arts in Asia. We participate vigorously in the movement of Photography in Asia through talent showcases, events and exhibitions, publishing, workshops and education, and community outreach. Since inauguration, IPA has partnered with organizations such as PLATFORM.SG, National Museum Of Singapore, The Angkor Photo Festival,  KL Photo Awards, AO Photo Books (Hong Kong), SONY Electronics Asia Pacific, Leica Camera Asia Pacific, and Canon Asia to name a few. Our marquee programs include the Invisible Photographer Asia Awards, IPA Photo Books Show, and IPA Photo Camps & Workshops in Asia. We have produced photography and arts events and workshops in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia. Invisible Ph t grapher Asia was founded in April 2010 by Kevin WY Lee [from the site’s homepage].” This rich site includes photo essays, a list of Asia’s “Top 20” photographers,” and information on workshops.

Sepia Eye

This site, developed by Esa Epstein, "is dedicated to showing a spectrum of modern and contemporary photography and video work from Asia." The site seeks to foster artist development through trade fairs, exhibitions, publications and festivals. The site includes news of exhibitions and significant new publications.