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Hugh Rechnitzer papers

Call Number: MS 1142

Scope and Contents

Hugh Rechnitzer was an Austrian chemist who emigrated to New York in 1899. In 1900 he went to Shanghai as a member of the import-export firm of Charles Stürmann and traveled under the firm's auspices to Java in 1901, returning to Shanghai in 1902. He died on July 2, 1906 following an operation in Shanghai.*

The major part of the collection is made up of 510 photographs (ca. 1900-1905) taken by Hugh Rechnitzer while on business in China, Indonesia, Japan, Java, Singapore and Vietnam. Aside from a small number of personal photographs showing Rechnitzer with friends and associates on business and pleasure trips, and an interesting group documenting daily life in China, the bulk of the pictures record scenes of the Boxer Rebellion of 1900, showing the deployment and action of the foreign troops which ultimately suppressed the rebellion. The nations whose forces are shown in the photographs are France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Italy, Russia and the United States. Of particular interest are the photographs showing troops in action, such as the German navy bombing the Chinese fort at Taku in the Gulf of Chihli, or Chinese troops with the beheaded bodies of their enemies.

Rechnitzer was able to enter Peking, previously barred to foreigners, after a combined international force took the city and the Chinese court fled on August 14, 1900. His forty-eight snapshots of Peking show famous landmarks such as the Summer Palace and the Great Pagoda, European military forces in the city and street scenes.

* Sources: D. Paul Amara (Y.1981) "Library given collection of Boxer Rebellion photos," Yale Weekly Bulletin and Calender, Sept. 1-8, 1980, p.2, and the Papers.

The photographs are arranged alphabetically by place and are further identified by Rechnitzer's annotations on the verso in English or German. A small amount of family and business correspondence, bills and memorabilia complete the collection.

In 1979, Robert Mahler of New York City, a great-nephew of Hugh Rechnitzer, donated the photographs and papers to the Yale University Library.


  • 1889-1906


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Robert Mahler in 1979.


1 Linear Feet ( (2 boxes))

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Chiefly photographs of China, ca. 1900-1905, some made during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Also photographs of Indonesia, Japan, Java, Singapore, and Vietnam where Rechnitzer traveled on business.There is also a small amount of family correspondence, personal photographs, and memorabilia.

Biographical / Historical

Hugh Rechnitzer: Austrian chemist who emigrated to New York in 1899; in 1900 went to Shanghai for the export-import firm of Charles Stürmann, and also travelled to Java.

Guide to the Hugh Rechnitzer Papers
Under Revision
Compiled by Ruth Gay
January 1981
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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