Contents and Arrangement

Family Papers and Tianjin History Collection, 1860-1966, early 2000s (mostly 1910-1946)

11 boxes

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This group of materials consists of photographic albums and individual photographs, postcards, travel diaries, magazine articles, and some supplemental material documenting the history of the Ruas family in Tianjin, China, and illustrates the history of Tianjin primarily between the years of 1910 and 1946. Two of the photograph albums were put together by Charles Ruas' grandfather and father who were French engineers in the early Chinese ship-building industry at Dagu (Taku) and the water supply system of Tianjin. There is a group of 17 albums documenting the Taku Tug & Lighter Company that were put together by another source. The Manchu General Marshal Yin Chang was the father of Charles Ruas's mother, so there are also some rare Chinese photographs of the imperial family.

Two albums show the beginning of the Chinese shipbuilding industry in the early 20th century at the Taku shipyards and colonial life in Tianjin in the 1910s and 1920, as put together by Charles Ruas' grandfather and father. They show the Brossard shipyard, images of several ships under construction and the conditions of workers at the shipyards, and the various other shipyards at Taku. Other photographs show important landmarks in the city. A group of 17 albums broadly document shipbuilding and vessel salvage on the Hai River in the 1930s with several of the albums specifically depicting some of the work of the British shipbuilder, Taku Tug & Lighter Company, which specialized in shipbuilding, engineering and repairs, salvage, lighterage, and towage. There are also two albums that Charles Ruas created to document the life of his mother, Erika Ruas (1910-1992). Two additional albums show colonial life in Tianjin from the 1920s to 1946. They show historical events such as the famine of 1920-1921, the flood of 1924, the inauguration of the International Bridge, the Japanese attack on Tianjin in 1937, the Japanese Blockade of 1939, the great flood of 1939, the liberation of Tianjin by United States Marines and the history of the Ruas family in Tianjin. Another album, originally belonging to an unidentified American soldier of the 15th United States Infantry which was based in Tianjin, has photographs dating from 1912 to 1940, and includes photographs of Marshall Zhang Zuolin in Tianjin, General William Conner and Prince Chun, father of emperor Pu Yi, with his entourage. Other photos show city life and religious ceremonies.

There are also a small number of rare photographs of the Qing imperial family illustrating the early interaction of the Qing court with Westerners. These include for example a photograph of Emperor Pu Yi against a painted automobile prop, taken at the British Country Club in Tianjin as well as a collection of photographs from a collection of glass negatives by Shun Ling, brother of Princess Der Ling, that show landmarks in the Forbidden City. The collection also includes a photographic album entitled 皇室旧影 that shows members of the imperial family. The photographs in this album were likely also taken by Shun Ling.

Spellings/transliterations on folder titles reflect those found on the materials or the inventory provided by the donor. Some of the materials are accompanied by print-outs of description and information provided by the donor.


The collection is arranged into five primary file groups: Author and Artist Files; Interviews, Radio, and Television; Photographs; Translations and Writings; and Family Papers and Tianjin History Collection.

Collection History


Nothing was removed from the collection during 2015-2024 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in January 2015. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in January 2015. Finding aid updated by Kelly Bolding with new materials in December 2015, November 2016, March 2017, July 2018, March 2020. Description for the Family Papers and Tianjin History Collection series was added by Kelly Bolding in June 2021, based on description provided by Charles Ruas and Joshua Seufert. The 2023 accrual was processed by Amy C. Vo in 2024, with the finding aid updated to reflect this addition.

The born-digital materials in this collection have been processed according to Princeton University Library's Born-Digital Processing Workflows. For more information on the workflow, please read our full Born-Digital Processing Information Note.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection contains digital files, which may require specific software or hardware for access. Refer to our Tips on Accessing Born-Digital Content for information on how to render these file formats.

Credit this material:

Family Papers and Tianjin History Collection; Charles Ruas Papers, C1372, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • This is stored in multiple locations.
  • Firestone Library (mss): Boxes B-001565 to B-001566, P-000155 to P-000161
  • ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 15-16

Find More

Related Materials

Selected first editions and inscribed books from Charles Ruas's library are held in the Rare Books Collection.

Audio files containing many of Charles Ruas's recorded interviews can be accessed on the website of Clocktower Productions in Conversations with Writers and Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas.

WBAI Radio (New York, N.Y.)
Ruas family
Howe, Susan, 1937-
Morrison, Toni
Nin, Anaïs.
Young, Marguerite, 1908-1995