The "Hong Kong & the West until 1860" database was created by the University of Hong Kong Libraries in response to the Pacific Rim Digital Library Alliance's project of setting up among member libraries a digital Pacific Explorations Archive for access and preservation of important materials related to the exploration of the Pacific.
The database is to provide online access and retrieval to a variety of valuable information, including sketches, maps, and accounts of western visitors and settlers about early Hong Kong, which are scattered in rare titles located in Special Collections and Fung Ping Shan Library of the University of Hong Kong Libraries.
The year 1860 has been identified as the cut-off date because it marked the end of the first phase of Hong Kong history. Geographically and politically, the territory of Hong Kong was confined to Hong Kong Island until 1860 when the Convention of Peking was signed under which Kowloon became part of the territory. A total of forty-two titles, mostly in English and published before 1860, were selected from the collection for inclusion into this database.