Biography and History

An heir to the Procter & Gamble fortune, Sidney D. Gamble (1890-1968) was a pioneer sociologist who worked in China between 1917 and 1932, a witness to a convulsive period in China's history. After studying at Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley, he was asked to undertake a social survey of Beijing in behalf of the Y.M.C.A. Over the course of several years there he gathered statistics on incomes, occupations and health care, and he supplemented these bare facts with his photographs. For the most part, however, his pictures were taken to illuminate China's social life and culture, not its political upheavals. His researches resulted in the publication of four remarkable studies of Chinese life: Peking: A Social Survey, 1921; How Chinese Families Live in Peiping, 1933; Ting Hsien: A North China Rural Community, 1954; and North China Villages: Social, Political, and Economic Activities Before 1933, 1963. These groundbreaking studies of Chinese life are still used as basic reference material by writers and scholars. In 1984, Sidney Gamble's daughter, Catherine Gamble Curran, discovered 5,000 black and white negatives, 600 hand colored glass slides, and 21 rolls of 16 mm movie film that had been taken by Gamble and which had been relegated to an attic cupboard in the family home. The Sidney D. Gamble Foundation for China Studies, Inc., was founded in 1986 to manage this archive and to make it available to the general public. Presumably, these scrapbook photographs are prints from some of the same negatives.

Source: From the finding aid for C0319

  • Sidney D. Gamble Photographs. 1911-1919 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C0319

    Consists of eleven photograph albums of Sidney D. Gamble (Princeton Class of 1912). Two contain photographs taken during his senior year at Princeton; the remaining albums are filled with photographs which reflect the life he knew in China as a Y.M.C.A. official (1918-1919, 1924-1927).