Contemporary Images of China Database

Iconology on Humanities and Developments of Contemporary China

Produced by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), the database collects a wide range of images of contemporary China from the Opium War to World War II (1840 – 1949), including: the First Sino-Japanese War, Sino-French War, Boxer Uprising (Yihetuan Movement), Eight-Nation Alliance, Republic of China, Chinese Civil War and the establishment of People’s Republic of China. Even though it’s the most turbulent time of China, it’s also the period when many foreign photographers could visit China in person. Therefore, this database broadly collects those relic pictures, maps, old paintings and photography before 1949.

It features several prestigious photographers’ work within the collection, such as: Sanshichiro Yamamoto (the author of “Peking” and the imperial photographer for Qing royalty), Ernst Boerschmann (German architect), British photographer John Thomson (the author of “Illustrations of China and Its People, 1873-1874”), photographer George Ernest Morriso (the author of “An Australian in China”) among others. Besides accommodating the local museums’ collections in China, this database also collects many precious images by collaborating with prominent institutions worldwide, including: Library of Congress (USA), National Diet Library (Japan) and Wellcome Library in UK.

Image cluster • History theme • Iconology

Image Cluster — to investigate through multi-angles on 1 topic

The collection hosts 925 image clusters under 16 categories, which includes: Qing Dynasty, the Late Qing Dynasty, the end of Qing Dynasty, 1901, Eight-Nation Alliance, Beijing, Shanghai, Taiwan, Republic, Zhou Enlai, Russo-Japanese War, 1895, Xinhai Revolution (1911 Revolution), Figures, Japanese Army, and Hebei.

History Theme — to know truths from the beginning to the end

Accompanied by images, there are 14 themes for scholars to quickly find the relevant resource of the historical events. The themes consist of Red Memories, Second Sino-Japanese War, Moment in Peking, Past and Present, China in the Eyes of Foreigners, Significant battles of Contemporary China, Atlas and Maps, Letters and Manuscripts, China of 18th century, Xinhai Revolution, War of Liberation (Chinese Civil War), Kidnapped in London (written by Sun Yat-sen), Lugou Bridge Incident, and Chorography.

Documentary Photography to witness onsite with journalist reports of the time

The section of documentary photography not only provides the on-site pictures, but also provides the relevant monographs and the newspaper reports of that time.



1840—1949, the most comprehensive image collection from the late Qing Dynasty to the establishment of People’s Republic of China.

● Produced by Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

● 60,000 photography of history, relevant journalist report in 1 million+ characters.

● Coverage of 6 disciplines: Politics economy, History and Geography, Sociology and Anthropology, Religions and Arts, Culture and Education, Military and Law.

● Diverse materials to represent contemporary China in images, including: relic pictures, old painting, maps, book manuscripts, historical documents, historic sites, etc.