Important Role of former Nazis in Eastern Germany." 

November 21, 1950
Central Files Decimal Number 762B.00

Policing the Shanghai International Settlement, 1894–1945

Street view of Shanghai in the 1930s

Street view of Shanghai in the 1930s

This collection provides researchers with the opportunity to explore a unique period in China’s struggle toward a modern existence through the International Settlement in Shanghai.

The collection includes:

  • Dossier files from the Special Branch of the Shanghai Municipal Police
  • Supporting reports
  • Handbills
  • Translations of Chinese press coverage
  • Clippings from the English-language press

An intuitive platform makes it all cross-searchable by subject or collection.

Date Range: 1894-1945
Source Library: National Archives II, College Park, MD

These files represent a large portion of the archives of the British-run municipal police force based in Shanghai’s former International Settlement. This self-governing area was administered not by the Chinese but by the international group of merchants and bankers who paid the taxes and controlled the municipal council. The Special Branch of the Shanghai Municipal Police was charged with providing an orderly environment for Shanghai’s foreign trade and commerce. Carrying out its duties required the timely gathering of information on areas of potential instability that might threaten Shanghai’s economic development and political calm.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, download a Product Fact Sheet [pdf, 312 KB]

This branch’s prime responsibilities were collecting intelligence on political demonstrations, strikes, labor and social unrest, foreign and domestic subversive activities, and areas of dispute between the International Settlement and the Chinese government. The time period covered by these files extends from 1894 to 1945. The most extensive coverage is provided by the Special Branch dossier files, which date from 1929-1945. Many files are organized around a particular topic and contain different kinds of source material. For example, a report on a major strike includes memoranda regarding that strike, plus supporting reports, handbills, translations of Chinese press coverage and clippings from the English-language press.

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