Notebook of William Purdom in China

Scope and Content

Lined notebook, every other page perforated and unlined for use with carbon paper. Inside the front cover is written ‘W. Purdom, 164 Kan Shih Chaio, West City, Peking’

The notebook contains diary entries relating to travels and business in China. The first entry reads, ‘Left Peking at 8.45am, arrived at Tientsin 11.30am. Met Tong at the Central Station. Called on Mr Huang (Foreign Affairs). He kindly took us out to lunch to a new Russian ‘Chow’ shop in the French concession. Later he motored us to the new ‘Grand Hotel’ in the Japanese concession. The hotel is quite comfy but rather half and half. Went out to shop in the evening and returned to dinner at 7pm. At 8pm we went to the pictures. Returned at 11pm, and had a good night’

Pages 1-32 comprise entries dated 12 Mar-9 Apr 1918. Purdom recounts travel by train to the south, persons called on and the weather, a visit to a tree nursery at Tsinanfu, trees grown and their conditions, a journey to Pukow and Nanking, a visit to the university nursery and the Ming tombs, assessments of sites for nurseries and forests, a visit to ‘Colonisation Station behind (north side) purple mountain’, and to other places including Sinchowfu, Cheng Chow, Tunsghwangho, Kwangshui, Hankow, Hwangshangpo, Sha ho Basin, Sinlo and Changsinlien

The above entries include tales of travel on donkeys, areas closed off due to plague, unease caused by rumours of fighting, descriptions of landscapes, communities and crops, collapsed bridges and comments such as ‘Frogs croaked all the night’, ‘This whole question of river conservancy could easily be tackled if the authorities would make up their minds’ and ‘Crossed river on foot, a very nerve racking business’

Pages 37-40 comprise entries dated 12-15 Aug 1918. Purdom recounts travel from Cheng Chow to Kaifeng, a visit to Lung Lai railway nursery, persons called on and the weather

Pages 50-59 comprise entries dated 10-20 Jun [?1918]. Purdom recounts travel along the Canton-Hankow railway, describing terrain and trees with places identified by milestones [presumably along the railway], travel to Ngau Yuen, Chu Chow, Sha Ho, Lu kou pu, Yang Lou, Pu Chi and Chi Fang, persons called on and weather

Page 60 bears a single entry dated 19 Dec 1918, recording departure from Peking, travel to Yengelleng Hsien and snow

Page 100 comprises a single entry dated 12 Oct 1918 headed Sinyangchow and includes persons he met with and a note that reads ‘Mr Forest’ [potentially a reference to George Forrest who was in China 1917-1919]

Remaining pages are blank apart from rough sketches of shapes and rough notes on pages 71, 93, 94 and 99