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Pudong Waterfront, Shanghai
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Coordinates: 31.202462°N, 121.49743°E
Altitude: 4 m (13 ft)
Present Day Details
Place Name: Shanghai
State/Province: Shanghai Metropolitan Area
Country: China
Transport links

Shanghai, the largest centre of commerce and finance in China, is situated at the mouth of the Yangtse River. First opened as a treaty port following the 1st China War, it became a multinational business hub by the 1930s.


Capture of Shanghai 1842
Battle of Shanghai 1860


  • China Families, previously called China Coast Family History, and part of the Chinese Maritime Customs project, University of Bristol. The website provides "a growing body of information about men and women of many different nationalities, professions and ages, who lived and worked in China between the 1850s and 1940s. These records have been drawn from government department lists, legal and diplomatic records, cemetery lists, and during research undertaken for a number of projects on the history of modern China and of the foreign relations of China". There is a Search facility and links to a number of online Directories. Look under Records for the databases specifically about Shanghai, including Municipal Policeman and Shanghai’s refugees, 1944.
  • The FamilySearch Catalog for microfilm/digitised microfilm records includes "Cemetery records of old and new cemetery, 1859-1899 and Seaman's cemetery, Pootung, in Shanghai, China, 1859-1879" catalogue entry microfilm 418134 which has been digitised and may be viewed at a FamilySearch Centre or FamilySearch Affiliate Library (as at 2021/03/25).
  • Guide to the Scholarly Resources Microfilm Edition of the Shanghai Municipal Police Files 1894-1949
The SMP files represent a large portion of the archives of the British-run municipal police force based in Shanghai's former International Settlement. This force was established shortly after the formation in 1854 of the settlement's presiding body, the Shanghai Municipal Council. The files are, for the most part, the records of the SMP Special Branch, which investigated and reported on alleged subversive activities and maintained peace and stability in the International Settlement. The time period covered by the SMP files extends from 1894 to 1949, The collection is housed [at the time of the guide] in the Military Archives Division of the National Archives, Washington, DC.

Also see

Information about the English language Chinese newspaper database ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Chinese Newspapers Collection; databases for The North-China Herald and North China Daily News published in Shanghai. A few examples are available, see Historical books online, below.


  • For a British Army overview, see China.
  • For the Shanghai Contingent who volunteered for the British Army in 1914, see China (First World War).

Shanghai Volunteer Corps

A reserve force in time of emergency in the International Settlement. By the 1930s, the Volunteers were a truly international force, with American, English, Scottish, Chinese, Italian, Jewish, Portuguese, Filipino and White Russian units. C 1937 it consisted of one professional battalion of young White Russians, superbly disciplined and impeccably turned out in British Army uniforms. The other companies were manned by volunteers from the civilian population. There was 'A' Company formed by Britons of pure-white descent. 'B' Company contained Eurasians. 'C' Company was the Chinese unit.[1]

There was a Shanghai Volunteer Corps Armoured Car Company and SVC Artillery.[2]

Regimental histories

Shanghai Defence Force

The Shanghai Defence Force was a tri-service military formation established by the British Government to protect European nationals and their property in Shanghai from Chinese nationalist forces during a period of tension in 1927.

National Archives catalogue reference Despatch of Shanghai Defence Force to Shanghai in 1927. FO 371/63436

External links

"Digging up the past" by Zhang Yu 2013., archived. Cemeteries for foreigners in Shanghai.
There is an English language version of his memoir The Diary of a Shanghai Physician by Victor Smolnikoff ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8577807931 [3]
W E Fairbairn's first book Defendu. Scientific Self-Defence was published in Shanghai in 1926 and is available at the British Library UIN: BLL01001192954, along with a number of his other titles, as is a biography The legend of W.E. Fairbairn : gentleman & warrior : the Shanghai years research by Peter Robins & Nicholas Tyler ; compiled & edited by Paul R. Child 2004 UIN: BLL01013468205. One volume, first published 1931, is available online, refer below.
  • "From 'Hunting Opium and Other Scents' to '400 Million Customers'" by Hugo Restall March 6, 2009 The Wall Street Journal, now an archived page. Expat writers in the first half of the 20th century. Hugo Restall was then editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review. Personal memoirs mentioned which are available at the British Library include Hunting Opium and Other Scents by Maurice Springfield (British assistant police commissioner) UIN: BLL01003468563 (Searchable, but not viewable Google Books) ; Shanghai Saga by John Pal (an officer of Chinese Customs) UIN: BLL01002750919 (Searchable, but not viewable Google Books) ; Stone - paper - scissors : Shanghai, 1921-1945 : an autobiography by the Stead sisters (daughters of a British real-estate man) UIN: BLL01008149019 . I Didn't Make a Million by Whitey Smith first published 1956 in Manila, republished with the additional title wording How Jazz Came to China. Details of the book, including extracts.[4]
See Hong Kong for more details of The Breach in the Wall: A Memoir of Old China by Enid Saunders Candlin (born in Shanghai, daughter of a tea merchant) 1973 UIN: BLL01000594031

Historical books online

1923 edition includes as "Part II": The Unexpurgated Diary of a Shanghai Baby, from page 209. Also see next item.
See China for Kotenev's 1931 book New Lamps for Old.
Big Trifles and Little People: Memoirs of a Russian Nobleman by Anatol M. Kotenev 2000. Sample pages Google Books.
Strange haven : a Jewish childhood in wartime Shanghai by Sigmund Tobias 1999. Books to Borrow/ Lending Library.
Voices from Shanghai : Jewish exiles in wartime China edited and translated by Irene Eber 2008. Books to Borrow/ Lending Library.
The Jacquinot Safe Zone: Wartime refugees in Shanghai by Marcia R.Ristaino 2008. Bibliothèque Numérique Asiatique /Asian Digital Library. Page 1 of a review about the book. Jacquinot, a Jesuit priest, provided refuge for Chinese civilians.
Paul French is the author of many books on the "old" (1930s) period in China, including Bloody Saturday: Shanghai’s Darkest Day, published 2017 Sample pages Google Books. The day was Saturday, August 14, 1937, when the Japanese bombed the city. For additional books by French, see China - Historical books online - General.
  • Digital Book originals Visual Cultures in East Asia, a website connected with Virtual Shanghai, (refer above). The books are mainly connected with Shanghai and include a number of Handbooks for travellers and residents. Pdf downloads.
  • Books including Shanghai in the title
  • Fiction
    • Juan In China by Eric Linklater. 1961 edition, first published 1937. Elsewhere[8] it is stated "The Japanese artillery during the Sino-Japanese war of 1937, well described by Eric Linklater in his novel “ Juan in China” (practically every word is true)…"
    • Yangtze Skipper, by Thomas Woodrooffe 1937. HathiTrust Digital Library. Set in 1919 Shanghai, Toby Warren is First Lieutenant on the "Beetle", a (fictitous) Royal Navy river gunboat. The author served on HMS "Scarab" (river gunboat) in 1919-1920.
    Note, this may be the American title. Appears to be the same book as River of Golden Sand by Thomas Woodrooffe. A review of River of Golden Sand [9]
  • Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard, first published 1984. Book File 1 1994 reprint, Book file 2 1985 reprint. Lending Library. A novel based on the author’s experiences in Shanghai during the Second World War, including internment from 1942 to 1945.


  1. "Shanghai Volunteer Corps", now archived, quoting an excerpt from Sin City, by Ralph Shaw, 1976, originally published in the UK as Sweet and Sour 1973, published in USA as China Nights 1974. 1976 edition is available at the British Library UIN: BLL01012684846 . Ralph Shaw was sent to Shanghai as part of the UK military force, then became journalist then night editor, of the North China Daily News, see Sin City
  2. Mikhail et al. Any thoughts about this group photo? Great War Forum 25 August 2021. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  3. The Diary of a Shanghai Physician with some sample pages available.
  4. "Jazz Bandleader Whitey Smith, “The Man Who Taught China to Dance” in Shanghai, 1920s-1930s" A few sample pages including front cover and Introduction.
  5. The Unexpurgated Diary of a Shanghai Baby
  6. Page (247?) from Empire Made Me: An Englishman Adrift in Shanghai by Robert Bickers 2004 Sample pages Google Books, however the particular page is no longer available online.
  7. See article "From 'Hunting Opium and Other Scents'..." by Hugo Restall, in External links , above.
  8. The Diary of a Shanghai Physician by Victor Smolnikoff page 10 of the sample pages available in "Look inside".
  9. Books of the Week: Morning Tribune, 28 January 1937, Page 16