Every time I poke around in series NAA: SP42/1, I find something new and interesting that I hadn’t noticed before.
Today’s find is a photograph of the family of Ah Yin (or Ah Yen), who was a storekeeper at Adelong in southern New South Wales, and his wife, Ah Hoo (or Ah How). The family, with six children, left for China in 1897.
The file NAA: SP42/1, C1916/7308 PART 1 relates to a request for one of the Ah Yin daughters, Sarah (b. 1890), to be permitted to return to Australia in 1910.
More on Sarah Ah Yen’s return to Australia from the Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 1915.
One of the first things I learnt in my training in arrangement and description was the meaning of those neat square brackets—they tell you that the archivist has, heaven forbid, used or added something other than the record’s original title. This is often done to assist with searching for the item in a collection database, particularly if the original title is a bit obscure, or non-existant. So it was that I came upon an item in the State Library of Victoria’s catalogue titled:
[Family group] [picture]
As the catalogue description notes, this photograph shows a:
Family grouped in front of picket fence, woman seated with two little girls, and possibly a little boy in short petticoats, beside her, two men standing on either side of her chair, a little boy standing beside man on left. Weatherboard house in background, tiled roof, and pergola, vines growing along roof line of porch.
What isn’t noted (except in the subject keywords) is that this family looks to be Chinese. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that the woman was of mixed heritage.
The photograph comes from the John Etkins collection, a private collection of around 2000 portrait photographs donated to the library in 2004. Inscribed in pencil on the back of the photograph is ‘[…] Wang in (?) Govt. Office / Inverell’. It is dated somewhere between 1880 and 1910.
Not much of a clue as to the family’s identity, but perhaps one day I’ll stumble upon something that tells me who they are.
- Description: 1 photographic print on cabinet card : albumen silver ; 10.7 x 16.6 cm.; 1 photographic print : albumen silver ; 9.7 x 13.9 cm.
- Identifier(s): State Library of Victoria, Accession no(s) H2005.34/103.
- Persistent link: http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/45774
The Sidney D Gamble photograph collection, held by Duke University, is available online. Here’s a description from the site:
From 1908 to 1932, Sidney Gamble (1890-1968) visited China four times, traveling throughout the country to collect data for social-economic surveys and to photograph urban and rural life, public events, architecture, religious statuary, and the countryside. A sociologist, renowned China scholar, and avid amateur photographer, Gamble used some of the pictures to illustrate his monographs. The Sidney D. Gamble Photographs digital collection marks the first comprehensive public presentation of this large body of work that includes photographs of Korea, Japan, Hawaii, San Francisco, and Russia.
There are images from Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong and Fujian. Also a nifty interactive map.
As I was looking through the Guangdong photos, my eye was particularly taken by this image of a rickshaw driver in a fantastic raincoat. It was taken between 1917 and 1919 in Canton.
It reminded me that on one trip to China, I spent some time exploring the ‘antique’ furniture markets in Tanzhou, Zhongshan, just outside of Zhuhai. (The no. 31 bus from Zhuhai went there.) The markets are a mixture of small shops/factories that produce ‘antique’ Chinese furniture and other shops that have genuinely old stuff. These raincoats were hanging outside up outside one little place – one is adult-sized and the other child-sized.