Guide to the Frederick B. Nightingale stereographs of China, 1920-1921
Collection of 143 stereographic images of areas in southeastern China, taken by an amateur photographer and American lighting engineer Frederick B. Nightingale from 1920 to 1921, while he traveled on business as a representative of General Electric. Nightingale's photographs are of value not only for the image content, which includes street scenes, vendors, modes of transportation, shrines, temples, pagodas, monasteries, towers, and landscapes, but also for his lengthy contextual commentary written on the back of each card. The majority of the images were taken in Hangzhou (referred to as Hangchow), Suzhou (Soochow), Mount Putuo island (Pu-tu), and Shanghai, China, but there are also a few images from other cities (Ningbo, Chang'an, and Harinen?), and a set of 11 images were taken in Japan. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
- Collection Number
- Frederick B. Nightingale stereographs of China
- 0.2 Linear Feet, 1 box
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
Collection of 143 stereographic images of areas in southeastern China, taken by amateur photographer and American lighting engineer Frederick B. (F.B.) Nightingale from 1920 to 1921 while he traveled on business as a representative of General Electric. Nightingale's collection is of value not only for the image content, which includes many street scenes with individuals in addition to well-known sites and landscapes, but also for his lengthy captions on the back of each card, commenting on food customs, architecture, folklore, commerce, and religious beliefs and practices, as seen from a Westerner's perspective.
The majority of the images were taken in Suzhou (referred to in captions as Soochow, 55 images), Hangzhou (Hangchow, 44), Mount Putuo Island (Pu-tu, 14), and Shanghai, China (13), but there are also a few photographs from other cities (Chang'an, Ningbo, Harinen?), and a set of 11 images taken in Japan. There is also one photograph of overgrown land on Nightingale's Pasadena, California property called "Palawoo." Several images feature Nightingale, and one shows the porter carrying his camera equipment. The majority of the images are crisp with little fading. A few are stamped with small identification numbers.
Subjects include numerous temples, pagodas, monasteries, monuments, tombs, and other historic sites, some of which no longer exist. Nightingale was able to capture some images of temple interiors, and he often noted which religious sites allowed entry to women. There are many photos of street life, river traffic, modes of transportation, and Chinese vendors and pedestrians going about their daily business.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
The stereograph cards are organized by geographic location in alphabetical order, according to places indicated in original captions.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
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], Frederick B. Nightingale stereographs of China, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Duplicate of 796 but not marked with image number.
3. Harinen (?)
Names of five individuals listed on back of card: Frances Widner, Dara [Deva?] Shelley, Josephine Rare [Rave?], Mrs. Hubbard, and Hugh Creighton.
"A high-voltage transformer being drawn by bull & cart in Tokyo."
Frederick B. Nightingale (F.B.) was born in 1885 and died in the 1950s. He worked in sales for General Electric until the 1940s, when he founded his own lighting company, Kim Lighting, and became a local celebrity in 1928 when he erected the giant "Star of Palawoo" above his Pasadena property in the Altadena hills in California.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- China -- Pictorial works
- China -- History -- Republic, 1912-1949 -- Pictorial works
- China -- Social life and customs
- China -- Description and travel -- 18th Century
- China -- History -- 1912-1928
- China -- Religious life and customs
- Hangzhou (China) -- Pictorial works
- Japan -- Pictorial works
- Putuo Shan Island (China) -- Pictorial works
- Shanghai (China) -- Pictorial works
- Suzhou (Jiangsu Sheng, China) -- Pictorial works
The F. B. Nightingale stereographs of China were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in February 2014.
Processed by: Leslie Hayes, January 2015
Accessions described in this finding aid: 2014-0032