Web Portals to Taiwan's Past

One of the blessings of the Internet Age is the availability of valuable information about the past, in this case Taiwanese history. This post introduces a few English and Chinese websites that I have found most interesting/useful. The list is hardly meant to be exhaustive, and people should feel free to recommend other sites that would benefit all those interested in this topic.

1. The Gerald Warner Taiwan Image Collection -- Put together by Paul Barclay at Lafayette College, this website contains 340 photographs and postcards gathered by Warner from 1937 to 1941 during and after his tenure as U.S. Consul in Taiwan. Barclay rightly reminds us that many of these images were produced for commercial purposes during a period of colonial hegemony. Nonetheless, they provide precious insights on how Taiwan's diverse culture was shaped by Chinese, Austronesian, Japanese, and Western influences. The collection covers a wide range of subjects, including flora, fauna, material culture, religion, and Aboriginal life. Users will also benefit from its Supporting Material section (especially the weblinks), as well as its extensive Bibliography. An additional 1,000 images are due to be posted early next year.

A related web source is Barclay's translation of Kondō "The Barbarian" Katsusaburō 近藤勝三郎's travelogue/memoir, which is now appearing on Michael Turton's blog. Kondō was a Japanese merchant and official who married into Aboriginal lineages in the Puli 埔里 area (in today's Nantou 南投 County), thereby gaining first-hand knowledge of key players in the Wushe 霧社 (Musha) Rebellion of 1930. This gripping account of Kondō's life was published as a serialized version of 29 installments in the Taiwan nichinichi shinpō 臺灣日日新報 (Taiwan Daily News) between December 20, 1930 and February 15, 1931.

2. Formosa Index -- This website, the result of years of dedicated research by Douglas Fix at Reed College, contains an impressive body of largely Western accounts of Taiwan and its people, most of which were published in books and journals during the nineteenth century. Complete versions of travelogues, reports, ethnographies, and general surveys can be found in the Texts section of the website, which also contains useful biographies and annotated bibliographies. The Images section allows visitors to view numerous illustrations about Taiwan's landscapes, people, and material culture, while the island's geographical and ethnological features can be readily appreciated by checking out the Maps section.

3. Yang-Grevot Collection of Taiwan Aboriginal Art -- Those interested in Taiwan's Aboriginal cultures might wish to start their inquiries at this website. In addition to a detailed catalogue of well-annotated images, this site also features plenty of links to museums, other collections, and relevant research, as well as bibliographies in English, French, and Chinese.

4. The Takao Club -- This website, established by a non-profit organization based in southern Taiwan, provides a comprehensive vista of this area's history and culture. Some of its most fascinating sections include biographies of renowned rebels like Lin Shao-mao 林少貓 (1865-1902) and Mona Rudao 莫那魯道 (1882-1930), as well as colorful descriptions of camphor, opium, and betel nuts (including betel nut beauties!).

5. Taiwan History Institute, Academia Sinca -- THE essential starting point for anyone wishing to undertake Chinese-language research, this website proves especially valuable for its Academic Resources (研究資源) section, which has links to the Taiwan Collectanea (臺灣文獻叢刊資料庫) and Governer-General's Office (臺灣總督府檔案) electronic databases. This site is also noteworthy for its remarkable collection of digitalized images (圖像資料庫).

6. Taiwan Historica -- This organization's website contains electronic databases for key government documents from the Japanese colonial and early postwar eras.

7. Taiwan History and Culture in Time and Space -- Representing the fruits of a pioneering interdisciplinary research effort, this website allows users to better appreciate the spatial aspects of Taiwanese history. While requiring some effort to master its various hi-tech features, great rewards await those with the patience to learn how to use its numerous maps, some of which can be downloaded and modified for one's own research purposes. This website also contains maps from my own research project on the Ta-pa-ni 噍吧哖 Incident, the details of which may be found on a Chinese-language website that my research assistant and I have prepared.


David said...

Vintage Formosa is a collection of over 1,000 historical photos of Taiwan.

Paul R Katz said...

Thanks, David! Let's keep the suggestions coming...