The collection comprises photographic and printed material relating to John Charles Oswald and the Oswald family, primarily during the period they were resident in Foochow [Fuzhou], China. The photographic material consists of eight photograph albums and a number of loose photographs. Seven of the albums contain photographs of the Oswald family at their homes in Foochow and Kuliang [Guling], formal and social occassions, horse racing, and locations in China including the port at Foochow. The eighth album contains photographs of Cambodia and Indonesia. Many of the photographs were taken by John Oswald, although the albums contain photographs taken by others as well as commercially available photographs. The albums may have been compiled by Nina Louisa Oswald, John Oswald's wife. The printed material consists of publications relating to China, some of which were given as gifts to John or Nina Oswald.
In addition to the photographic and printed material, the collection also contains an album of watercolours depicting Chinese professions, including a sequence showing the various stages in the production and shipping of tea.