A unique photographic archive covering China and the Philippines in the years of 1927 – 1931, just prior to World War II. The photo archive contains hundreds of photos, loosely arranged thematically and chronologically, following the oriental tour of the American navyman, John Earl Longway. The volume uniquely illustrates many of the most historically important and violent events of that period, including a unknown mass slaughter in Sichuan, the Japanese invasion of Manchuria (1931), and the Russian Famine, as well as hundreds of images representing the mundanity and horrors of day to day life in the pre-war China and the Philippines. The archive includes specific photos of great historical interest, including an undocumented photos of a very young Chiang Kai-shek.
The album focuses on one of the most interesting periods of Chinese history marked by the rise of the Republic of China under Chiang Kai-shek and the subsequent events that led to World War II. Following World War I, patriotic consciousness and nationalist resentment towards foreign pseudo-colonialism and the Open Door Policy was on the rise throughout China. Much of this focused the unequal treaties of the previous century, which opened Chinese ports to foreign trade and granted foreign land concessions in various port cities, such as Shanghai, Guangzhou (Canton), and Xiamen (Amoy), among many others. The treaties gave the United States and European powers the rights to patrol Chinese coasts and rivers. One such example is the Yangtze Patrol (1854 – 1941), (figured prominently in this volume) a prolonged American military patrol aimed at protecting American trade and defeating piracy along the Yangtze River. By the middle of the 1920s the chaos associated with the breakdown of the old imperial system and the rise of the Nationalist's Republic of China led to lawlessness and warlordism. At the same time Japanese Imperial ambitions were becoming increasingly evident. This supported an increased U.S. military presence in China. The U.S. Navy had been active in China since the middle of the 19th century. The 4th Marine Regiment, called the China Marines, was stationed in Shanghai from 1927 to 1941. This is the stage for this album.
The album is loosely organized into sections and many of the images are hand annotated. The sections, in turn, are arranged in a loose chorological order. Most photographs measure 3 x 4 inches, although there are some 4 x 5 inch images and numerous colorized 7 x 10 inch images.
The twenty-seven 7 x 10 inch full page images, which may be of a commercial origin, are interspaced throughout the volume and tend to focus on Japanese and Chinese historical sites. The organization is as follows:
- Introductory material including military certificates and an amusing photograph of Longway surrounded by western and Chinese women and the note 'The only girl I ever loved.'
- Various images of Chinese Junks with which Longway seems to have had a fascination.
- A serious 18 photos of seemingly random images of people and places in China and the Philippines.
- 6 scenic photos of Guam
- 6 scenic images from China including the Three Gorges, Yangtze River, and 'A Chinese Junk Merchant.'
- 6 photos illustrating scenes from Shanghai life. Three detail the 1927 fortification of Shanghai by British and American forces. Two images detail Brigadier General Smedley Butler, head of the China Marines, and Admiral Clarence Stewart Williams, head of the Asiatic Fleet.
- 6 Photos if Ingrot Tribesmen in the Philippines.
- 6 Photos illustrating naval action in Manchuria, including a photos, presumably of Longway, with a film crew.
- 18 Photos of Lung Hwa, Shanghai, including street scenes and a Chinese street musician, Various images of U.S. Ships associated with Submarine Division 17. View of Hong Kong, image of a dead Chinese beggar with onlookers, additional photos of the 1927 fortification of Shanghai.
- 5 Photographs. 3 of Ingrot tribal peoples of the Philippines, two of Honolulu.
- 6 images of Chinese life including a Sedan Chair, a Sampan, a Chinese carpenter, a Sikh policeman, and 2 harbor scenes.
- 15 Images of Guam, including tribal peoples.
- 39 images of Chinese life and people covering Canton (Guangzhou), Peking (Beijing), ChungKing (Chongqing), and Shanghai. Images are varied and interesting and includes street scenes, an opium smoker, Chinese weavers, a street barber shop, silk production, Sun Yat Sen's tomb, a lumberyard, etc.
- 4 images of tribal peoples, possibly from the Philippines, identified as 'Headhunters.'
- 5 images of Junks and 1 of the Lung Hwa Pagoda
- 8 apparently commercial photographs of the Ming Tombs.
- 61 images illustrating U.S. Ships and military life in the Philippines.
- 17 Extremely graphic images of an apparent systematic massacre, possibly in Sichuan. Scenes include beheadings (before and after), fields of slaughtered men, and horrific torture. We have been unable to identify this event from the clues provided.
- 16 photographic images, possibly professional of cartoons satirizing naval life. The artist is Hackman, but we have not been able to find other examples of his work.
- 7 Scenic photographs of Amoy (Xiamen).
- 13 graphic photographs of the 'Russian Famine' c. 1921 – 1922. These seem out of place in this volume. There is a caption suggesting that the Chinese persecuted Russian peasants during this period – possibly suggesting that some refugees fled to western China. The images are disturbing and include piles of dead bodies, many burnt and emaciated. The caption also suggests that the Russians retaliated against the Chinese, and there are several photos of Russians with dead Chinese.
- 1 odd photo of two men, either European of in European dress, looking and several beheaded bodies.
- 63 Photographs mostly illustrating people and places in China ranging from street scenes, to individuals, to port scenes. Many are annotated and include images of Chinese people in Beijing, Nanking (Nanjing), Shanghai, Canton (Guangzhou), and Chefoo (Yantai). Many interesting photos of Chinese people. Interspaced are several images form the Philippines
- 1 Rare unrecorded photograph of General Chiang Kai-shek.
- 55 images illustrating Chinese people, scenery, junks, temples, and architecture. Included in this number are several photos of Sampan peoples, of the Philippines, Longway, and navy ships.
- 41 images illustrating, we believe, the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Some are quite graphic. They include defensive warfare, dead bodies, burning cities, etc.
- Several pages illustrating Longway's homecoming via Paris and London.
The whole is contained in an elaborately tooled leather album if Chinese (probably Shanghai) manufacture. This collection is a unique opportunity for any serious collector of Pre-War China imagery, institution, or dedicated photographic archive focused on historical events.