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Teacher guide John Thomson's China II: illustrations of China and its people, photo albums, 1873-74 - visual narratives

TLF ID M006975

This is a collection comprising five sets of 19th-century photographs of China and the Chinese people selected from photographs taken by John Thomson, the first Western photographer to travel widely throughout China. The sets are organised around five topics: town; country; people; ethnicities; and the monumental past. All the images are linked to the original full photographs and their captions. Some captions are brief but others are very long and detailed.

Educational details

Educational value
  • The five sets of photographs in this collection provide unique primary-source images that are highly valuable for historical studies of China in the 19th century, and much earlier in the case of the monumental past set. They encompass areas such as everyday lives of men and women, transport, farming, trade and commerce, architecture, technology and religion.
  • John Thomson (1837-1921) set out his opinions about the people and scenes he photographed in the captions he wrote. These captions are historically valuable in their own right. They reveal the thoughts of the first Western photographer to travel widely throughout China and provide an insight into the imperialist, religious and scientific views of foreigners in China at the time.
Year level

8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • The Arts
  • History
  • Languages
  • Geography
  • Languages other than English

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Person: John Thomson
  • Description: Photographer
  • Publisher
  • Name: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: Massachusetts, UNITED STATES
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Online
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology © 2008 Visualizing Cultures. Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0.