The early photographs that document China are often sparse and fragmentary. However John David Zumbrum’s (1875-1941) old photographs provide one of the rare complete visual documentation of Beijing, where he stayed between the 1910s and 1929. This archival rediscovery has been possible notably thanks to Thomas H. Hahn’s endeavour. Zumbrum was born in Hanover (York County, Pennsylvania) and served eight years in the United States Army before he engaged for around ten years in business in Beijing. At that time, Zumbrum had multiple professions: owner of ’CameraCraft’ commercial store, official photographer of Chinese notables and probably Kodak’s main distributor for northern China. This photographer recorded everyday life and decisive events while the city was experiencing significant changes, such as traditional rituals, weddings, students’ demonstrations, and other social activities. His portraits and aerials photographs – taken from a balloon – attest to his distinctive manner to create dynamic composition.
• BRAGMAN. B. 2014. "Rare glimpses of China during the fall of the last Imperial Dynasty – Bonhams sale." San Francisco Chronicle
• HAHN. T. H. 2012. "The photographer John Zumbrun and his archive on China (new discovery)." Humanities and Social Science Net Online
• SIONG. C.C. 2009. "Coronation of Yuan Shikai." Siong Chin blog