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Where to find Hong Kong's history
Here are some ideas of where to look if you're interested in Hong Kong's history.
Geoffrey's photos got me thinking about this. He sent in several old family photos, and asked for help finding out where they were taken. I've been surprised at the very different ways people use to find out the information - old photos, maps, newspapers, specialist knowledge (eg cinema histories), web-searches, personal memories, etc. I've also enjoyed us working together, sharing snippets of information that build up until we can reach a clear answer (or at least an educated guess!). So hopefully the easier it is to dig into Hong Kong's history, the more people will take a look, and the more we'll find.
Old Maps of Hong Kong: see separate article...
Old photos of Hong Kong: see separate article...
Google & Wikipedia
Often the first place to start is with a search on Google. Many of those searches will take you to relevant pages on Wikipedia.
If you're using Google to research a topic, it's worth opening up a new document (notepad or wordpad are fine) where you can keep a list of the searches you've made, and the results for each. When I don't do this, I either can't find a document that I read earlier, or waste time running the same search twice (or more!) at different times!
Old Hong Kong newspapers: see separate article...
Hong Kong University provides an excellent resource with their HKGRO:
Hong Kong Government Reports Online (HKGRO) is a full-text image database providing online access to pre-World War II issues of four major government publications, namely, Administrative Report, Hong Kong Sessional Papers, Hong Kong Hansard and Hong Kong Government Gazette. It contains a wide range of information, such as official notifications, proceedings of the Legislative Council, statistics, and reports of government departments and special committees, which are essential to students and scholars in conducting research on Hong Kong.
It's good for searching, but also worth the occasional browse. Most visits will turn up some interesting piece of information. As an example, the first result of a search on 'census' is the 'CENSUS OF HONGKONG 31ST DECEMBER, 1853.' It showed the total Hong Kong population stood at 39,017, with just 476 'Europeans and Americans'.
If you have a question about Hong Kong during the Second World War, Tony Banham is the man who knows the answer. His website is worth a regular visit if you're interested in that part of Hong Kong's history. He keeps it updated with the latest news and photos he receives each month.
For Hong Kong's cinemas, Raymond Lo has obviously done a lot of research. He has added historical notes for many of Hong Kong's cinemas at the Cinema Treasures website.
General historical articles
To take a break from researching, it's good to read some finished articles about Hong Kong's history.
The 'Walk the talk' blog has a lot of interesting stories. There haven't been any new posts since last December, but the old posts are still all there, and make good reading.
The journal of the Royal Asiatic Society is another source of things you never knew about Hong Kong's history. Many editions (I'm not sure the exact range) are available online at the Hong Kong University's 'Hong Kong Journals Online' site. Or if you become a member you'll receive the new journals as they are printed.
The local public libraries hold copies of all the popular books about Hong Kong's history.
If I'm in Tsim Sha Tsui and have some free time, I like to visit the reference library at the Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre. It's usually empty, and they have a good selection of local history books.
If you've already gathered information on some part of Hong Kong's history, why not put it up on the web? Then anyone searching for information can benefit from the work you've done, and hopefully contribute some extra information to you too. You're welcome to post information up in our forum, or if you'd like your 'own' site it's easier than ever to sign up at a free blogging site and start posting information.
Feel free to ask questions on our forum, too. Then make a note to check back for replies in a couple of days, a couple of months, and even a year later. You never know when someone will see your question as part of a web search, and be able to add some information about it.
Oh, and keep your eyes open as you wander around town. Many of my own questions have come from seeing an unusual building, or a tunnel entrance, and wondering what it is.
What else is out there that I'm missing? I see that Hong Kong University has a whole list of resources, where I've only been using two. So that's worth a closer look. Then of course there must be plenty of Chinese-language resources that I know nothing about.
What would you recommend?