I am a historian of twentieth century China with particular interests in the building of large technological systems, revolution, and war experiences and memories. In 2015, I received my PhD in History from the University of Chicago and then became an assistant professor in the department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School. My first book project is titled Mao’s Last Stand: The Third Front and the Demilitarization of Chinese Socialism. It examines how the Chinese Communist Party industrialized inland regions in order to protect socialist China from American and Soviet threats. My second book project, The Three Gorges Dam: Building a Hydraulic Engine for China, examines state-led efforts to transform China’s Three Gorges region into a hydraulic engine to power national development in the twentieth century.  I am also in the process of developing a third project on changing conceptions of national security in modern China. My research has been supported by the Fulbright International Institute of Education, the Fulbright-Hays Commission, and the University of Chicago.


This website is dedicated to photos, paintings, and videos of everyday life in China from roughly the 1930s to the 1980s.  I have chosen this broader time-frame in order to encompass China’s transition both into and out of socialism. There are also some photos of Taiwan. I try to cover as many different aspects of life during this time period as possible. Where I can, I note the time and location. If you see any image that has an incorrect date or location, please just let me know. For more on the ideas behind the website, please read these interviews with the New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books.

If you are looking for a photo from a specific time period, location, or about a particular topic, there are two ways to search the website. You can either use the search box or the categories panel on the side. Likewise, if you are searching for a painting, the easiest way to locate it is by using the search box and searching by the name of the artist or the painting. Nearly all artist names and paintings are in Chinese.  In addition to photos, paintings, and videos, the website has some other historical materials, which are under the category “documents.”


I occasionally comment on postings. My comments are not meant to be scholarly, nor fully formed.  They are more random thoughts about what is in the image. I am currently much too busy to write full-fledged articles on postings, though I have some planned for a day when leisure time again exists.  All my comments are in the category labeled “commentaries.”

For posting updates, please follow me on twitter


Enjoy! And, thanks for the support!



Covell Meyskens





9 responses to “About

  1. Pingback: Links about Chinese photography | Fangfei Chen

  2. Ben

    I live in Chongqing and I really appreciate the work you are doing. It’s so interesting to see the stark contrast.

  3. Interesting blog. I lived in China for 4.5 years, in two small cities. Some things haven’t changed so much in more rural areas since Mao’s time, and there were pictures of Mao everywhere, such as paintings in restaurants. Your images bring me back to China.

  4. Greg


    I really enjoy your website and was hoping you might be able to add RSS functionality.


  5. Dear Covell,
    thanks to a French sinologist, Brigitte Duzan, I just discovered your UNIQUE website. CONGRATULATIONS! I am myself an Historian working for many years on Mao’s China, having published five books on him, the last one, called MAO in English (Horizons Editions, London, 2012, in French “Le Mao”, 2009, Editions du Rouergue) is focused on the Mao cult and iconography. I did it with a French photographer, himself a “crazy” collector, Guy Gallice. I did too, with another French filmmaker a 52′ documentary called “Hou Bo, Xu Xiaobing, Mao’s photographers” which has been released more than 40 times on Europe tv networks. If i have time, I would like to add some informations about the authors of the photographs whose photographers I know, not only Hou Bo and XXB of course…This is important for them, for their families and for History too.
    Let keep in touch in you wish.
    Claude Hudelot
    I currently live in France on a small island, Ré, but will be moving to Bali soon…

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