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Images of old Shanghai gifted to city by American university
By Yang Jian

A COLLECTION of about 100 photographs of old Shanghai and other Chinese cities has gone on display at the Shanghai Municipal Archives.

The images, which were donated by Duke University in the United States, were taken by Sidney Gamble, an American photographer and sociologist, during his four visits to China between 1908 and 1932.

Many of the photos, including three taken at the funeral of Sun Yat-sen, the renowned statesman who led the revolution to end imperial rule in China, have never before been seen by the public.

Others featuring such things as rickshaws on the Bund, and sampans on Suzhou Creek and the Huangpu River provide a fascinating snapshot of Shanghai in the early 1900s.

The collection also captures key moments in history such as the opium burning in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. 

As well as the dozens of monochrome prints on display are several hand-painted slides that add an extra dimension to the collection.

“The photos are an extraordinary contribution to the visual archive as they were taken during an important period of Chinese history. Very few images remain from that time,” an unnamed official with the archive said.

Gamble always began his visits to China in Shanghai. In 1925, he arrived in the city to conduct a sociological survey.

Entry to the exhibition, which runs through September at the Shanghai Municipal Archives on the Bund, is free to all on presentation of an identity card or passport.

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