The Robert Hart Photographic Collection at Queen's University Belfast

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Abstract

Sir Robert Hart, the Irish-born Inspector-General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs between 1863 and 1908, exerted such wide-ranging influence that the historian John Fairbank called him one-third of the “trinity in power” in China in the later nineteenth century. Historians have long recognised the importance of Hart’s personal archive, particularly his diary in seventy-seven volumes held at Queen’s University Belfast, for understanding Sino-Western relations in the late Qing period.ii Yet Hart’s collection of several thousand photographs, many of them unique, has not received the same degree of attention. A preliminary selection of these photographs has been published as China’s Imperial Eye, and the full collection is now being digitised.iii Hart’s photographic collection shows us not only something of the look of late Qing China, but also helps to reveal how this controversial figure viewed the country he served for forty-nine years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-9
Number of pages2
JournalInternational Institute for Asian Studies Newsletter
Issue number78
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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title = "The Robert Hart Photographic Collection at Queen's University Belfast",
abstract = "Sir Robert Hart, the Irish-born Inspector-General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs between 1863 and 1908, exerted such wide-ranging influence that the historian John Fairbank called him one-third of the “trinity in power” in China in the later nineteenth century. Historians have long recognised the importance of Hart’s personal archive, particularly his diary in seventy-seven volumes held at Queen’s University Belfast, for understanding Sino-Western relations in the late Qing period.ii Yet Hart’s collection of several thousand photographs, many of them unique, has not received the same degree of attention. A preliminary selection of these photographs has been published as China’s Imperial Eye, and the full collection is now being digitised.iii Hart’s photographic collection shows us not only something of the look of late Qing China, but also helps to reveal how this controversial figure viewed the country he served for forty-nine years.",
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AB - Sir Robert Hart, the Irish-born Inspector-General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs between 1863 and 1908, exerted such wide-ranging influence that the historian John Fairbank called him one-third of the “trinity in power” in China in the later nineteenth century. Historians have long recognised the importance of Hart’s personal archive, particularly his diary in seventy-seven volumes held at Queen’s University Belfast, for understanding Sino-Western relations in the late Qing period.ii Yet Hart’s collection of several thousand photographs, many of them unique, has not received the same degree of attention. A preliminary selection of these photographs has been published as China’s Imperial Eye, and the full collection is now being digitised.iii Hart’s photographic collection shows us not only something of the look of late Qing China, but also helps to reveal how this controversial figure viewed the country he served for forty-nine years.

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