In the 16th century Taiwan started to be known in the Western world by the appellation “Formosa,” which meant “beautiful island.” During the subsequent 400 years of historical changes, Taiwan’s beautiful mountains and rivers have seen moving stories of past generations starting on the difficult path of modernization as their blood mixed with their tears.
They’ve also silently witnessed the rich abundance of cultural art and the beauty of buildings constructed. This period of history has both written accounts found in books, as well as visual accounts in photographs. Through the record left in these photographs, we see pristine and untouched depictions of beautiful scenery and common customs in Taiwan, which have now become valuable historic materials by which we can remember and cherish Taiwan’s historical past.
As the visual age is upon us, in recent years National Central Library has actively sought images and pictures of Taiwan history through various channels. These include pictures from foreigner who came in the 19th century and postcards issued during the Japanese occupation. The latter has amassed a very sizable collection of over 4,000 postcards. These postcards reflect the life and customs of the people at the time, as well as accurate portraits of various buildings.