Guide to the William Hillman Shockley Photographs, 1897-1922 and undated, bulk 1897-1910
William H. Shockley was an American-born mining engineer and amateur photographer. The collection contains the prints and negatives of thousands of black-and-white images taken by William Shockley during his travels as a mining engineer in China (including Manchuria), Korea, India, Japan, Western Australia, and Russia (including Siberia), and other places between the years of 1897 and 1905, shortly before and during the period of the Boxer Rebellion. Subjects featured include native citizens and officials (some of high rank), Europeans and Indians (including miners, soldiers, officials, missionaries, and guards), mining and engineering concerns (particularly of gold and coal in China), native dwellings and villages, religious buildings and art, street scenes, camps, landscapes, landscape features such as unusual trees and rock formations, domestic animals, caravans and other forms of transportation. There are many other work scenes in addition to mining settings. The collection contains approximately 2505 prints, 27 glass lantern slides, and over 290 nitrate film and glass plate negatives. Many of the photographs are captioned. There is also one bound letterbook of Shockley's correspondence dating from 1905-1922. Arranged in series by format and by geographical location. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- William Hillman Shockley photographs
- circa 1896-1922 and undated, bulk 1897-1910
- Shockley, William Hillman, 1855-1925
- 6.0 Linear Feet, Approximately 2950 items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
The collection contains over 2900 black-and-white images taken by William Shockley during his travels as a mining engineer in China (including Manchuria), Korea, India, Russia (including Siberia), and Western Australia between the years 1896 and 1910. Included are images taken in England, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, chiefly after 1900; these sometimes include family members and friends. Formats consist of vintage prints, lantern slides, glass plate and nitrate film negatives, and modern copy prints.
Individuals photographed by Shockley during business travels include native inhabitants; government officials (some of high rank); migrant laborers (chiefly Korean); Europeans, mostly English, including miners, mining company officials, missionaries; and ambassadors and other government officials; and European women residing or traveling abroad). Subjects include mining and engineering sites (particularly gold and coal mines in China); native dwellings and villages; religious buildings and art; street scenes; markets; camps; landscapes and landscape features such as unusual trees and rock formations; domestic animals; and caravans and other forms of local transportation by water and land. There are many other work scenes in addition to mining settings.
The bulk of the collection is made up of approximately 2505 small vintage black-and-white prints measuring from 3x4 to 4x6 inches, many of which bear original captions. There are some vintage duplicates that vary in cropping and tonality. Accompanying the small prints is a set of larger mounted prints of family. There are also 298 original nitrate and glass plate negatives, some of which may contain images not found elsewhere in the collection. Over 200 modern 8x10 inch copy prints, chiefly of Russia and Siberia, were made from Shockley's original negatives; a smaller set includes images of an unidentified estate in England, a portrait of an unidentified man in uniform, and images of people playing tennis. Finally, there are 27 glass lantern slides bearing positive images taken by Shockley in mining regions of Australia, and probably used by Shockley for lectures or demonstrations.
Non-photographic materials consist of samples of mica; a notebook on travels in India and lists of images; original envelopes and glass plate boxes; and a bound letterbook containing approximately 100 pieces of business correspondence, chiefly carbon copies, dating from 1905 to 1922.
Arranged in series by format and by geographical location, with further details on image content in each category.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research. However, glass plate and nitrate film negatives may be consulted only with permission of the Curator of Documentary Arts.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], William Hillman Shockley Photographs, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Consists of approximately 2505 black and white photographic prints from Shockley's travels as a mining engineer at the turn of the century to Australia, Russia, China, Korea, India. Included are many images taken in Siberia and Manchuria. Most of the prints were developed out contemporaneously, others were developed in the 2000s from original negatives. Titles are taken from Shockley's original labels.
The images include many topics and subjects, including landscapes, street scenes, crowd scenes, portraits, and group shots, posed and spontaneous. Frequently depicted are modes of transportation (horseback, donkey, camel, horse, cow, person-drawn carts, trains, steamers, canoes); agricultural activities and locales; mining activities (panning, surveying, drilling, carrying water, construction, machinery); religious objects, processions, and buildings; hunting; and architecture. There are many work settings in addition to mining, as well as depictions of commercial enterprises. Further details are offered under selected geographical groups below. Fifteen folders contain modern gelatin silver 8x10 prints printed from the photographer's negatives of Russia. Some of the 8x10 prints are duplicates that appear in the "Russia, 1905" folder. Unless otherwise noted, the majority of the prints are 3x4".
Subjects include native people, Qing government officers, salt workers, a funeral procession, and Chinese herb sellers. Working scenes include people washing quartz gold, fishing from boats, milling wheat. Other scenes feature ferry boats, city walls, Confusion Temple, a bell tower, Peking astronomy instruments, a Christian building, a Manchurian private garden in Peking, and a Buddha stone carving.
Chin Chang Kou Liang is located in a mountainous region north and north-west of Beijing, noted for its quartz gold deposits. Images depict native people and local officers, as well as houses, villages, a theater, a temple, and a market square in Chin Chang Kou Liang. There are local landscape features such as the Great Wall in Kou Pei Kou, bridges, and rivers. The majority of the photographs, however, concern mining operations, which include making gold washing and smelting ore to extract gold.
Images taken in Manchuria feature natural landscapes, mountains, Yalu river, cultivated fields and farms, and an iron mine. Other images depict scenes at a Manchurian emperor's temple, a bridge at Liaoyang, a pagoda at Moukden, a shrine, a priest's house, a Lama temple, a Manchu emperor's tomb gate, and a Westerner's house. Place names as written in the original captions include Moukden (Shenyang) city, Liaoyang Fu, Jehol, Pai Lou at Moukden, and Sumeru. Work scenes include an iron furnace at Sai Ma Chi, a camel team from Manchuria carrying coal, paying for a fur coat at Moukden, and series of images about a wagon caravan accident in Manchuria in 1897.
Shanghai photographs feature street scenes; places as written in the original captions include Nanjing Road, Lung Hwa Temple, Wong Poo River, Soo Chow River, buildings and parks, Astor House, a Western boat on Huangpu River, and a memorial arch. People portrayed include a businessman, a criminal with a yoke, an amah or female servant, Indian guards, and Sikh police. Commercial sites include a restaurant, snack shop, ironsmith shop, carpenter shop, photographer's shop, taxi station, a shop for westerners, rice shop, medicine shop, and a vat shop. There is also an image of a significant funeral procession in Nanjing Road, an individual wearing traditional opera costume, and other scenes of popular life in Shanghai.
Images in the Shanxi folders feature native people, local officers, Shanxi guards, soldiers, a miner, loess cave houses and a loess landscape, stables and dwellings, and religious buildings and deities. Work scenes depict salt-making, packing coal at Yu Hsien, and an iron furnace at Ta Yang. Place names as written in the original captions include Fen River, TaiYuan Fu, Yu Hsien, Shi Pa Pan in Shanxi, Kao Ping Hsien, Chihli, and Jehol. Many of these were areas where Herbert Hoover also worked as a mining engineer during roughly the same time period.
Created in 2010 from glass plate negatives, private collection.
Portraits of unknown babies and family members.
Contains small painted portraits, unsigned, of three individual unnamed women, roughly 2x3" each, artist unknown. As Shockley's wife May Bradford Shockley, was a painter, these may well be her work.
A bound volume of roughly 100 carbon copies of correspondence, written by William Hillman Shockley from places such as Paris, London, St. Petersburg, Irdell (Russia), Bogoslovsk (Russia), Palo Alto (California), and Reno (Nevada). The majority of this correspondence relates to Shockley's work as a mining engineer, as well as several personal letters to his wife and others, correspondence relating to his personal finances, and responses to a correspondence course entitled "Training of Children." The volume also contains several diary entries from 1922 and notes on the Kluchi mines in Russia. Four letters are in German.
Shockley's nitrate film and glass plate negatives from which black-and-white prints were made both contemporaneously and in the 2000s. About 20 film negatives reveal experimental images (double exposures and other effects). Some negatives do not have corresponding prints, and vice versa.
Glass plate and nitrate negatives may be consulted only with permission from Curator for Documentary Arts.
Set of glass plate negatives; corresponding prints are in main collection, but there may be some unique glass plates with images not found elsewhere in the collection. Negatives are currently part of a detailed desription and processing project.
27 glass lantern slides bearing positive images taken by Shockley in mining regions of Australia, and probably used by Shockley for lectures or demonstrations.
William Hillman Shockley (1855-1925) was an American mining engineer and amateur photographer and botanist. He was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts and educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Trained as a mining engineer, he first worked in Florida and California, then from late 1896 to 1905 traveled to China, Russia, Korea, and Australia in search of mining opportunities, chiefly in gold, silver, iron ore, coal, copper, and petroleum. While in Nevada and Texas, he also investigated mercury mines. He also traveled extensively to investigate mining interests in Perú, Argentina, Chile, Sudan, Eritrea, and Egypt, and visited many European cities.
Shockley married May Bradford, Missouri-born mining surveyor in Nevada and federal deputy surveyor of the mineral lands, in London in 1908. After residing in London, the Shockleys returned to Nevada in 1913, three years after the birth of their son. After returning to London for many years, they eventually settled in Palo Alto, California. William H. Shockley died in Los Angeles in 1925, and May Bradford Shockley in 1977. Their only child, William B., became known as the inventor of the transistor and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1956.
- William Hillman Shockley Collection (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Department of Special Collections)
- William Hillman Shockley Papers (Stanford University Department of Special Collections and University Archives)
- William Shockley Papers (Stanford University Department of Special Collections and University Archives) Contains many papers and photographs associated with William B. Shockley's parents, William H. Shockley and May Bradford Shockley
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Archive of Documentary Arts (Duke University)
- Shockley, William Hillman, 1855-1925
- Shockley, William Hillman, 1855-1925
- Coal mines and mining -- Pictorial works
- Documentary Photography -- Korea
- Documentary Photography -- Russia
- Documentary Photography -- India
- Documentary Photography -- China
- Documentary Photography -- Australia
- Documentary Photography -- Japan
- Documentary Photography -- India
- Gold mines and mining -- Pictorial works
- Mining engineering -- Pictorial works
The William Hillman Shockley photographs collection was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as purchases from 2010 to 2015.
Processed by L. Colby Bogie and Willeke Sandler, October 2010 and October 2011
Encoded by L. Colby Bogie, Paula Jeannet Mangiafico, and Willeke Sandler, October 2011
Accessions 2010-0154, 2011-0029, 2011-0034, and 2015-0162 were merged into one collection and described in this finding aid.