Newly digitised: letters from Eva Price to Sir Robert Hart

We are pleased to add a new collection of correspondence from the Hart Collection MS 15 to Digital Special Collections & Archives: letters to Sir Robert Hart from his niece, Eva Price.

The Hart Correspondence Collection

Selection of correspondence, MS 15/2

Sir Robert Hart (1835-1911) was the Irish-born Inspector-General of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs between 1863 and 1908.

The correspondence contained in our Hart Collection numbers approximately 7,800 items. This consists mostly of the correspondence received by Hart after the Boxer Uprising (1899-1901) up to his death in 1911. The bulk of the correspondence is in excellent condition. The letters are bundled and held in fourteen boxes. Most of the collection is in English, although there are items in Mandarin Chinese, French, Italian and German.

Letter to Hart, bearing a Portrush postal stamp

Hart organised his letters by subject, reflecting the separate gender spheres of the early twentieth-century. As personal and work-related correspondence were separated into different bundles, so too were correspondence from women and men.

The collection is particularly rich in documenting the experience of European women in China. These letters also reveal the deep social bonds created in the small expatriate communities in China, as many of Hart’s correspondents in the US and Europe were former residents of China.

Hart was an avid collector of photographs and many of his correspondents responded to his requests for photographs.

The correspondence includes work-related material in the form of correspondence with James Campbell (1833-1907), some memoranda relating to Customs policies, letters from Customs staff on leave in Europe, and letters of recommendation and requests for employment in the Customs. Like most men of his stature, Hart received frequent requests for information from journalists and for donations from charities and educational organisations.

Letters from Eva Price

One of Hart’s many correspondents was Evalene (Eva) Gordon Price (1876-1933), who lived in England with her brother Willoughby and mother Katie Price (Hart’s sister). Eva’s letters date from 1895-1911. Many are decorated with illustrations.

This collection of 85 letters, including searchable transcripts, is available to browse now on Digital Special Collections & Archives.  

Further information on the Hart Collection MS 15

Discover more about the Hart Collection and access the manuscript collection listing via RASCAL. A selection of other items from the Hart Collection is available on Digital Special Collections & Archives. Please get in touch with us if you would like to know more.