A couple years ago I had the opportunity to purchase a collection of six hundred negatives covering life in and around the American embassy in Beijing for the years 1936 to 1938. The photographer's name was Jozef (Joseph) R. Michalik (b. 03/13/1916, d. ???), son of Polish immigrants Ms. Agnieszka Michalik & Mr. Ignacy Michalik, then residing in New England. The oldest son Jozef (there also was a younger son Czeslaw) had joined the US Marine Corps Music Band at some point in time in the mid-30s I assume, and ended up in China's northern metropolis, where he roamed the legation compound and the city at large with a camera producing individual b/w negatives 4.3 by 2.8 inches (= 11 by 7 cm) in size. Of the 600 negatives I selected to scan 208 on my Epson 4990 scanner, at 1400 dpi (sometimes higher), producing very crisp, high resolution TIF files which were further tweaked and cleaned up in Lightroom 5.2RC.
The gallery on display here contains 104 photographs by J.R. Michalik, roughly 17% of the overall collection. Some general themes emerge from the catalog of images, such as:
1. The American Embassy compound
2. Sports event
3. Japanese troops entering Beijing (Beiping), right under the nose of the photographer, most probably on August 18, 1937.
4. USMC personnel, Chinese & Japanese girls, and various acquaintances of J.R.M.
5. Yenching and Tsinghua University campuses. I am unclear about this connection to the photographer, but quite a few images depict both of these campuses, and the people employed there at the time.
6. Beijing Street scenes
7. Landscapes and images of Beijing's environs
The quality of the negatives is very high, although Michalik at times was at odds with the oblong film format. The horizontal views are extremely detailed, though, and produce very nice prints. Used here are the original captions.
Besides the dates that bracket his biological life, I have not been able to create any kind of biographical benchmarks or track the career (military of otherwise) of Mr. Michalik, filling in the blanks is work in progress.
Thomas H. Hahn
August 28, 2013
© Thomas H. Hahn Docu-Images