Substantial collection of personal and official papers of Sir Robert Hart (1835-1911), Inspector General of the Imperial Customs, Peking, 1863-1908. The collection contains a range of interesting and insightful material relating to Hart’s official duties and experiences in Peking during his long career in charge of the Chinese Customs Service. Significant in this regard is the long series of 77 personal journals which Hart kept during this time.
Running from 1854 when Hart first entered the Chinese administration, these diaries record many personal anecdotes and reminiscences about Hart’s official duties in China, particularly from the 1870s onwards. Numerous newspaper cuttings, telegrams, letters and Chinese scribblings can also be found throughout. The collection also contains a significant series of correspondence amounting to some 7000 letters dating from 1899 to 1911. Although the majority relate to personal matters, corresponding with family members and other relations, many have a bearing on customs affairs, most notably with James Duncan Campbell (1833-1907), Hart’s agent in the London Office of the Chinese Customs Service. These provide a useful commentary on the breadth of Campbell’s responsibilities in London and the role of the Inspector General and his staff. Other items of interest include a set of notes and papers detailing Hart’s experiences and analysis of the Boxer disturbances in Peking, 1900, numerous photographs, slides etc of Sir Robert, his relatives, friends and colleagues, c 1854-1911, and a small collection of various printed works containing articles on Chinese history, politics, trade, policies and diplomatic relations with other countries. Some of these last items have been authored by Hart himself.
A significant figure in the modernisation of Imperial China during the 19th and early 20th centuries, this collection provides an important insight into the life and career of Sir Robert Hart, one of China’s most important adopted sons. Of particular significance are his personal journals and his correspondence with his London Agent, James Duncan Campbell. This collection is an essential source of research to students interested in 19th and early 20th century Chinese history and development.
The collection contains approx. 8200 items comprising, c 7100 letters and memos, 77 volumes of journals, 23 notebooks, c 100 periodicals, pamphlets, books and maps, c 700 Black & White photographs, 20 photograph albums and 170 slides.
Queen's Univeristy Belfast has legal ownership of these materials. Please contact Special Collections & Archives regarding rights queries.
The Collection came as a bequest to Queen's University Belfast in 1972 following the death of the last Sir Robert Hart (great-grandson of the first Sir Robert Hart).