Xīnnián kuàilè – Happy New Year!

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|6th February 2019|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week marks the beginning of the celebrations for Chinese New Year. Because this is a lunar celebration the date changes each year – this year it began on February 5th. Chinese New Year is one of the world’s most prominent and celebrated festivals and is one of the longest festivals of the Chinese calendar, beginning the evening before the first day of the year and culminating with the Lantern

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Moths & Insects

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|9th August 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

In the heat of the summer, one of our researchers found these beautiful illustrations of moths and insects in an album held in one of our library collections.  The album, entitled ‘Album of Paintings of Insects: Moths’, contains watercolour illustrations of moths and other insects (reference: CWML MSS 506). Dating from the early 19th century, an ornate label adhered to the inside cover identifies these as being produced by the

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A Customs Officer’s view of China: the photographs of R.F.C. Hedgeland

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|7th June 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week’s blog looks at the photographs of Reginald Hedgeland, an officer with the Chinese Maritime Customs Service. Throughout over thirty years of service across China, Hedgeland photographed the work of the Customs Service and his domestic and social life, giving an insight into the life of a Customs officer. Reginald Follett Codrington Hedgeland was born in Exeter, Devon on 18 December 1874. He joined the Chinese Maritime Customs Service

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A Russian’s view of China, 1861-1864

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|14th May 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

Continuing our theme of historical photographs of China in the archive collections held by SOAS Library, this week’s blog looks at an interesting set of photographs taken by a Russian photographer in Beijing in the years 1861-1864, found in the London Missionary Society archive. The photographer is unidentified, but the collection intriguingly includes his self-portrait. The set of 37 sepia prints dating from c.1861-1864, includes a number of striking individual and group portraits

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John Charles Oswald’s photographs of China

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|23rd April 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

Continuing our series on historical photographs of China, this week’s blog looks at John Oswald’s photographs of Foochow [Fuzhou]. His photographs document the home, work and social life of a British tea merchant living in a treaty port. John Charles Oswald (1857-1930) arrived in Foochow in the late 1880s, having worked for a tea importer in London for thirteen years. Initially working for Odell & Co. as a clerk, he

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New donation: Photographs of the Roberts Memorial Hospital, China

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|3rd April 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week’s blog looks at a new donation of photograph albums received by SOAS Archives, offering a glimpse of life in a mission hospital in North China at the beginning of the 20th century, in the immediate aftermath of the Boxer Uprising[1].  The six captioned photograph albums (reference: MS 381326), dating from c.1902-1908, contain black & white prints and also cyanotypes with a blue image hue, which picture the ‘Roberts

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Wishing you a very Happy New Year- Nianhua [年畫]

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|16th February 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

This week’s blog comes from Jiyeon Wood, Subject Librarian for Arts & Multi-Media, and celebrates the Chinese New Year through SOAS Library’s fascinating collection of Chinese woodblock prints. Are you familiar with the lunar calendar? In Korea, where I’m from, the lunar calendar is still used. For example, my parents’ birthdays are set by the lunar calendar, which means that they celebrate their birthdays on a different day every year

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Valentine’s Day in the Archive

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|14th February 2018|Collections & Research|0 comments

Our collections at SOAS Archives reflect the British interaction with Africa and Asia over the last 250 years and include the papers of missionary societies, NGOs and campaign groups, and business organisations. Not where you would expect to find tales of love, perhaps, but every Archive has its romances and Valentine’s Day seems to be a good day to share a few! Voices of those in our Archive who travelled and explored Asia and

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The Righteous and Harmonious Fists

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|3rd November 2017|Collections & Research|0 comments

Taking place in the wake of serious drought, floods and hunger, The Boxer Rebellion, Yihetuan or most poetically, The Righteous and Harmonious Fists Movement, was an uprising in China that took place between 1899 and 1900. Tensions rose quickly, culminating with serious anti-foreigner violence in Peking (Beijing) and the city being taken under siege by ‘the Boxers’. Eight international forces eventually forcibly subdued the rebels and the following September the Peking Protocol was

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Gladys Aylward

By Special Collections, SOAS Library|10th September 2017|Collections & Research|

Born in North London, in 1902, Gladys Aylward worked as a housemaid from the age of 14. In 1925, she became convinced that she had received God’s calling to spread his word in China after attending an evangelical meeting. She was refused missionary service in China by the China Inland Mission Centre in London, for failing their examinations. In October 1930, Gladys realized her ambition when she went to Yangchen

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