China Underground > Magazine > China Magazine > China through the lenses of David Gamble: 40 images

China through the lenses of David Gamble: 40 images

David Gamble (Cincinnati, 1890 – Sydney, 1968), the grandson of James Gamble, founder of Procter & Gamble in 1837, visited China for four periods doing Christian social work for the Y.M.C.A and conducting social surveys.

Related articles: The Photographic Work of Arthur Rothstein in China, The first photographs of Hong Kong, the Second Opium War, and Beijing, Felice Beato in 1860, Amazing restored old photographs of China

He is now best known for his remarkable photographs of Beijing and North China.

Gamble first toured in 1908 accompanying his parents, then after graduating from Princeton in 1912, studied labor and industrial economics at the University of California, Berkeley, spending six months on a fellowship working at a reform school for delinquent boys. At this time, he built the house which became known as the Sidney D. Gamble House.

In 1917, he joined the work of Princeton-in-Peking and the Peking YMCA where his Princeton friend John Stewart Burgess invited him to do the surveys which resulted in Peking: A Social Survey, which included more than fifty photographs. In 1919 Gamble was on hand to capture dramatic photographs of the May Fourth student demonstrations. The motto of the May Fourth Movement, “To save China through science and democracy,” and the missionary ideal of “Saving China through Christianity” for a time seemed to be united. When he returned with his bride, Elizabeth Lowe, to China in 1924, he used his family resources to hire a team of Chinese researchers to survey 283 families. The book was published in 1933 as How Chinese Families Live in Peiping (as Peking was then called). In 1926, Gamble traveled for three weeks in the Soviet Union with Sherwood Eddy, a longtime mentor.

As China became more and more inflamed by patriotic agitation and warlord fighting, he found hope in the Ting Hsien Experiment in Rural Reconstruction conducted by James Yen’s Mass Education Movement. In 1931-32 Gamble traveled to China for the fourth and final time to organize the surveys which he used for three more detailed volumes, Ting Hsien: A North China Rural Community (1954) and North China Villages (1963). Chinese Village Plays, published in 1970, after his death, give translations based on unique transcriptions of now lost village yang ko plays, which differ from the later dances.

Jonathan Spence concludes of Gamble that his “findings were open-minded, clear-headed, methodologically intelligent (though not always beyond criticism by scholars of different views), startlingly imaginative, and — when presented in photographic form — vigorous, ebullient, unsentimental, and starkly, yet never cruelly, illustrative of the deep and real suffering that lay at the heart of China’s long revolution.” [Wikipedia]

Rescued Slave Girls ; 1917 – 1919

Industrial Training – between 1917 and 1919

Yellow Lama Priest ; 1917 – 1919

between 1917 and 1919

1917 – 1919

The Temple Court — Quiet Save for the Tinkle of the Wind ; 1917 – 1919

The Slaughter House Sign, Pig Bladders ; 1917 – 1919

The Peking Chinese Young Men’s Christian Association ; 1917 – 1919

The foundlings’ home ; 1917 – 1919

The Five Teachers, Christ, Lao Tze, Confucius and … John Howard ; 1917 – 1919

Teng Shih K’ou Church ; 1917 – 1919

The Blind Working for the Blind ; 1917 – 1919

Student Guard at Government Law School, the Student Jail ; 1917 – 1919

Sure of One Hot Meal on a Cold Day ; 1917 – 1919

STITCHING SOLES ; 1917 – 1919

Rickshaw Shelter ; 1917 – 1919

Spreading Modern Ideas Among the Common People ; 1917 – 1919

Reform School Dormitory ; 1917 – 1919

Prostitutes’ Advertising ; 1917 – 1919

Beijing walls, 1917-1919

Peking Model Prison, the First of 39 in China ; 1917 – 1919

Old Style Prison ; 1917 – 1919

National Teachers’ College, the Forge ; 1917 – 1919

Making Match Boxes. Model Prison Workshop ; 1917 – 1919

Industrial Training; shop practice ; 1917 – 1919

Industrial Education. National Teachers’ College ; 1917 – 1919

Student Demonstrations, June 4th and 5th, 1919

Arrested Students Going to Jail, 1919

Source & Images: Wikipedia ,

Subscribe to China Underground and get the free magazine 'Planet China'

* indicates required

View previous campaigns.

By clicking Sign Up, you agree to our terms and conditions.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.


Champagne Court camera market for film enthusiasts, images

Amazing Flood pictures at Xiaolangdi Dam in China


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.