I am a historian of twentieth century China with particular interests in industrialization, revolution, and experiences and memories of war. In 2015, I received my PhD in History from the University of Chicago, and I am an assiociate professor of Chinese history in the department of National Security Affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School. My first book is titled Mao’s Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China. It examines how the Chinese Communist Party industrialized inland regions in order to protect socialist China from American and Soviet threats. I am currently working on two book projects. The first one – The Three Gorges Dam: Building a Hydraulic Engine for China – analyzes state-led efforts to transform China’s Three Gorges region into a hydraulic engine to power national development.  I am also in the process of researching a third book project tentatively titled, The People’s Army: A Social and Cultural History of the Military in China, 1927- present. 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





16 thoughts on “About

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  1. 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.

  2. 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…

    1. I don’t have a very strict definition,. Do you? This website includes much more than what many would consider everyday life. Probably a more accurate name for the website would be “Images of Maoist China”

  3. How is your project on the Third Front and on the Three Gorges Dam going? How do you approach the both project? With the Third Front project, what source do you use or can you access? Are you looking at how people experienced such projects or as the title of your website – everyday life? I’d be really interested in hearing more?

  4. I used a mix of documents, memoirs, and interviews for the Third Front project. Cambridge University Press will publish my findings as a book in the next year or so. Most the book focuses on everyday life but I also cover high politics and the Third Front’s economic consequences. I have just begun to work more intently on my second book project on the Three Gorges Dam. I have collected a wealth of documents and memoirs and plan to carry out interviews in the future. The book will look at both elite decision-making and everyday life. If you have any more questions, please feel free to email me.

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