One-man newspaper archive helps keep the memories of old Beijing alive

History enthusiast helps track changing face of city through thousands of press cuttings

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 1:48pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 October, 2017, 3:47pm

A history enthusiast in Beijing has spent decades amassing a veritable treasure trove of material about the city’s past in the form of thousands of press cuttings.

Jiang Yulin, 82, a resident of Fengtai district in southern Beijing, was proud of his hobby and enjoyed showing his collections to visitors to his tightly packed home, news portal reported on Saturday.

The grandfather has a 10 square metre room densely packed with scrapbooks into which he has pasted around 8,000 newspaper reports collected over the past three decades – a time that saw major social changes amid the country’s economic reforms.

He categorises the reports into different topics such as Beijing history, Chinese history, social development and culture.

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Sometimes he also added his own notes to accompany the reports.

“Among all the materials I collected, most are about old Beijing,” Jiang was quoted as saying.

He is also a fan of China’s Nobel literature laureate Mo Yan and has collected a thick file of press clippings about the novelist.

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Jiang’s family has lived in the district for four generations.

He was described in the report as man of few words, but one who would become excited and talk a lot when discussing history.

He has become famous in his neighbourhood as a repository of information about the past and is often visited by neighbours who like to browse the archives and listen to Jiang talking about his own life and Beijing’s history.