Hong Kong Image Database
The Hong Kong Image Database is a digital collection of historical images documenting the Hong Kong experience from the 1840s through to the 1990s. The Database features a wealth of images of Hong Kong, including people, landscapes, infrastructures, villages, agriculture and fisheries activities, industrial settings, housing, buildings, panoramas, and more. The University of Hong Kong Libraries unlocks this digital vault of historic images with rich metadata and makes them freely available for public consultation. Currently the collection contains more than 5,000 images scanned from a variety of resources collected by Special Collections of the University of Hong Kong Libraries, including photographic prints, slides, negatives, and print publications. Among the many photographs in the Database, several featured collections are also available. Included among these are Hong Kong Tourist Association, Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch, Fanling Hunt Club, Land Use Survey Photos, Ng Bar Ling Hiking Photos, Walter Schofield Field Trip Photos, William Floyd Nineteenth Century Costume Portraits, Post WWII Images, Panoramas and Prominent Figures. More new images will be added periodically, recording the ongoing development of Hong Kong.
These are portraits of notable figures of Hong Kong from the late nineteenth century to early twentieth century. Persons included were either successful entrepreneurs or public figures, most whom held various public positions and made contributions to Hong Kong at the time. In addition to the portrait images, biographical articles are linked to provide further reading.
This series of costume photos was taken by William Pryor Floyd, a British photographer who was active in Hong Kong between 1865 and 1874. Mr. Floyd had his own studio on Queen’s Road Central and later on Wellington Street. He was famous for making tinted cartes-de-visite and photos. Images included in the collection are portraits mostly taken in an indoor studio where models dressed in Chinese costumes posing as compositions of various classes of people in Hong Kong.
The Fanling Hunt, popularly known as the “Fanling Drag” was started in 1924 by local British businessmen, Pierce Grove and Toby Birkett. The establishment of the Hunt was to promote the sport of horse and pony riding particularly through hunting, racing, steeplechasing, point-to-points, paperchases, and similar recreations and pastimes. The Hunt had its own popular clubhouse in Fanling known as the Hunter’s Arms. Hunt members came from the upper reaches of Hong Kong’s social and regimental life. With the incorporation of a racecourse, the original Fanling Hunt became the Fanling Hunt & Race Club in November 1929. This photo collection includes members and friends of the Hunt engaging in various equestrian activities and events at Kwanti racecourse in Fanling. The Hunt season ran from October to April, when paddy fields lay fallow, and was observed up to the Japanese invasion in 1941.
Mr. Walter Schofield (1888-1968) was a cadet officer in the Hong Kong Civil Service from 1911 to 1938, during which he held important posts in the administration and judiciary. Throughout his career in Hong Kong, he pursued (with official support) what was no doubt his first love, the geology and archaeology of Hong Kong, of which he was a pioneer. This collection contains photos taken by Mr. Schofield during his various field trips to New Territories, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon between the 1910s and the 1930s.
The photographs taken by the RAS survey team in the 1970s was intended to record architecture, activities and common scenes in Hong Kong, all of which were rapidly disappearing . The survey mainly covered the Central and Western District, Mid-Levels and Wanchai and featured buildings, various structures, architectural features, street scenes, customs, trade as well as people.
This collection contains aerial photos taken from a direct-down position and panoramic photos taken from an elevated location. Wide-angled photos give an extensive view on the subject scenes which are not only useful for understanding geographic settings, but also for documenting the changing landscapes.
This photo series was taken by a foreign journalist immediately following the World War II in 1945. Images cover the areas of Central District, Victoria Harbour, Kowloon City and the Tiger Balm Garden in Tai Hang.
This collection contains photographs taken between the 1950s and the 1960s by students of the University of Hong Kong during field trips. In preparing their final year dissertations, undergraduates of the Department of Geography and Geology conducted land use surveys during summer in different parts of Hong Kong and collected first-hand information of a vanishing city by interviewing, observing and photo-taking. Many scenes of urban areas, the New Territories and the Outlying Islands captured by the students during their field trips, have now become unique historical records.
Originating from the Hong Kong Tourist Association, this collection presents a vast range of culture and heritage images of Hong Kong from the 1970s through the 1990s including scenic attractions, events and festivals. The photos were used by the Hong Kong Tourist Association for travel and trade publications, displays, promotions and a variety of other publicity purposes.
This collection of photographs originated from Mr. Ng Bar-ling (1904-1976), a well-known local veteran journalist, News Editor of the Wah Kiu Yat Po, Chief Editor of Wah Kiu’s annual publication, Hongkong Year Book, and a prolific writer in many fields. Mr. Ng was fond of hiking around Hong Kong between the 1950s and the 1970s where he took many photos and subsequently wrote several books about hiking attractions of Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories and the Outlying Islands. He provided countless information to both fellow hikers and picnickers alike.
In the early 20th century, Hungarian photographer Dezső Bozóky (1871-1957) spent almost two years travelling in East Asia, including to Hong Kong, during which time he took a large number of photographs to supplement his travel accounts. Bozóky visited Hong Kong three times between 1907 and 1909. His beautiful black-and-white and hand-coloured pictures captured the typical life of Hong Kong and its people. His historic pictures allow us to re-trace the bustling streets and shops in Central and Sheung Wan districts, the energetic Victoria Harbour, the fascinating landscape of the Mid-Levels and the Colonial Cemetery in Happy Valley that he encountered. HKU Libraries is grateful to the Ferenc Hopp Museum of Asiatic Arts in Budapest for contributing Dezső Bozóky’s Hong Kong-related photographs to the Hong Kong Image Database. Thanks also go to Györgyi Fajcsák, Florian Knothe, Elena Cheung, Karin Honarvar, Cheng Po Hung and Christopher Mattison for providing the image captions.