The Joseph Needham collection of photographs and journals from the Second World War is now available on the Cambridge University Digital Library website: http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/collections/needham
This is the first time that much of this material has been available online in high resolution thanks to the talented team in the University Library’s Digital Content Unit, who digitised hundreds of pages and photographs as part of this project. This material even includes photographs of Chiang Kai-shek’s visit to the Chongqing Mining and Industrial Exhibition in 1944!
While UL’s DCU team was working on the digitisation, the Needham Research Institute Librarian John Moffett and I were busy updating and extensively editing a range of supplementary information in both English and Chinese to accompany the photos and journals. This includes edited transcriptions for the journals detailing three of Needham’s tours visiting universities, research institutes, schools, and factories across ‘Free China’. For the journal pages, transcriptions can easily be accessed via the ‘View More Options’ dropdown menu.
Since it’s now possible to simultaneously search both these transcriptions and the photo descriptions, this means that you can view photos and read journal entries related to the same episode or event. For example, if you’re interested in Needham’s earliest meetings with Zhu Kezhen (竺可桢), the eminent Chinese meteorologist and long-serving president of Zhejiang University, a simple search for his name will let you not only read about them in Needham’s journal but also see his photos of Zhu speaking to members of the Science Society of China in 1944.
I am currently working on the edited typescript for Needham’s final, Northern tour, and further supplementary material is going to be made available in the future making the collection even more accessible and easy to use. Plus, this wartime collection is just a starting-point, with plans afoot to digitise even more material relating to Joseph Needham’s life and work.