By Vaudine England
THE HONG KONG MEMORY PROJECT:
This is a good first stop for a range of activity- and industry-specific archives, Oral History interviews and many important collections. However, it lacks any non-Chinese people and occupations, raising the question as to how much a Memory project can claim to represent Hong Kong without its many other peoples present.
HONG KONG HERITAGE PROJECT:
Backed by the Kadoorie family this by definition includes non-Chinese heritage – the Kadoories are a leading Jewish family of Hong Kong, with enterprises covering agriculture, the Peninsula and other hotels, and China Light and Power. Its archives are fascinating and include sections on the Shanghai diaspora as well as many aspects of early Hong Kong.
This is a vital gathering spot for enthusiastic amateurs investigating Hong Kong’s past. Having trouble identifying a picture, or wondering about an old building, now gone, or rumours of past dramatic moments? Post your question here, read the debates, and scour the fabulous photo collection of site founder David Bellis.
THE HONG KONG ARCHIVES SOCIETY:
For those with a more professional interest, or a desire to gain archival qualifications, this site introduces you to the Hong Kong Archives Society which is affiliated to the International Council on Archives. Two important sub-groups here include the Hong Kong Business Records Group, and the Hong Kong Oral History Group.
PUBLIC RECORDS OFFICE:
Hong Kong’s PRO was established in 1972 but now struggles with lack of government support and skills training, and Hong Kong’s lack of an Archives Law. Government departments are recommended, but not required, to hand over their records, resulting in many being lost or mislaid, especially since 1997. Nonetheless the senior staff are unfailingly helpful and several important records are held here, such as the Carl T Smith Collection of Index Cards on the People of the China Coast, as well as other archives on Wanchai and Yaumatei, the Japanese Occupation and the Kai Tak Airport.
These are well-managed and comprehensive. Look here for everything on the history and functioning of the Legislative Council, its bodies and committees, rules, proposals, meetings, Topical issues and legislation.
HONG KONG BANK ARCHIVES:
The Archives of the HSBC are professionally run and accessible to serious researchers, carrying much more than mere banking. A near-complete set of the Chronicle & Directory to the Far East, for example, and artworks of the China Trade from the 18th century, are kept alongside historical banknotes and records of the Bank’s business since its founding in 1865. The Archive holds regular exhibitions and talks to engage the public.
CHURCH and SOCIAL ORGANISATION ARCHIVES:
St John’s Cathedral has an active historical publication programme.
The Catholic Diocese has a proper Archive: http://archives.catholic.org.hk/. This holds a myriad of detail on Church organisation, and personnel and its active role in social issues.
The Po Leung Kuk has its own museum offering tours and records:
The Tung Wah Hospital Group has impressive archives and thanks to Dr Elizabeth Sinn’s book (see below), there are many ways into it:
This purpose-built facility collects and conserves Hong Kong films and related materials, offering a user-friendly system for easy access.
GOVERNMENT LIBRARY: The Central Library in Causeway Bay has a dedicated Hong Kong Studies section. Online, you can read and take screen shots of old Hong Kong newspapers, in both Chinese and English, dating from 1866 until the 1940s:
The Government Library’s Oral History section is:
UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES – there are many! Leading the field is the Special Collections led by Iris Chan at the University of Hong Kong. Materials cannot be taken away and so access to the library in person is necessary.
Check the ‘Dragon’ catalogue first for anything Hong Kong-related: http://library.hku.hk/