VIA Search Strategies

Basic Searching

To search VIA for all records for cataloged materials from the Hedda Morrison photograph collection at Harvard-Yenching Library, search for "Hedda Morrison" in Name and limit the search to holdings of Harvard-Yenching Library. Performing the search seen in the screenshot below will retrieve records for:

  • the Hedda Morrison photograph collection
  • individual photographs and photograph albums created by Hedda Morrison
  • photographs of Hedda Morrison
  • photographs of the albums showing their cases and bindings
  • photographs of ephemera from the collection

Screenshot from VIA's main search page

Narrowing the search

To narrow the search, combine the above search with additional terms using Pinyin romanization for any Chinese words. Individual romanized syllables are separated with spaces, except in the cases of certain site names and personal names; searches are not case sensitive. Only two special characters are used: the apostrophe and the dieresis (umlaut). The apostrophe is inserted between joined syllables for the sake of clarification and must be included in the search. The dieresis is used to distinguish between the syllables lu, lü, nu, and nü. The dieresis may be omitted when searching.


Yong'an Qiao not Yongan Qiao
Tianjielü or Tianjielu
Mao Nü or Mao Nu

Searching for Sites

Sites can be searched by combining the search for "Hedda Morrison" in Name with a specific site name in Anywhere. Limit the search to holdings of Harvard-Yenching Library. The following romanization guidelines were used for site names:

Romanization Guidelines for Site Names
Typically, site names in VIA are established using the same forms as those used in HOLLIS, which generally follows the conventions of the Library of Congress and the U.S. Board on Geographic Names regarding the grouping of syllables for Chinese site names.

  • Generic terms for administrative districts and constructions of geographic extent are separated from the names of places. Such terms include: Sheng (province), Shi (city), Xian (county), Qu (district), Qiao (bridge), Lu (road), etc.

    Examples: Hebei Sheng
    Beijing Shi
    Mentougou Qu
    Zhengding Xian
    Waijinshui Qiao
    Yong Lu

    Exception: Generic terms for jurisdictions or incorporated places below the level of administrative district are connected to the names of places. Such terms include zhen (town), cun (hamlet), zhuang (market), and xiang (village).

    Example: Balizhuang

  • Generic terms for geographical features (Shan, Hu, Hai, Dao, etc.) are separated from the name of the place itself and translated into English.

    Examples: Hua Mountain
    Nanhai Lake
    Qingchui Peak

    Exception: A generic term is joined to the name of the place when used in the name of another place or geographic feature.

    Examples: Beidai He (river)
    Beidaihe (town named for the river)
    Shijing Shan (mountain)
    Shijingshan Qu (district named for the mountain)
    Waijin Shui (river)
    Waijinshui Qiao (bridge named for the river)
    Jing Shan (hill)
    Jingshan Gong Yuan (park named after the hill)
  • For site names without geographic extent (buildings, gates, memorial arches, and other single built works) separate each syllable.

    Examples: Fa yuan si
    Tian an men [the gate not the square]
    Kong miao
    Da cheng dian
    Fu lan ting
    Liu li pai fang

    Exception: If a proper name or site name with geographic extent is included as part of the name of the building, follow the guidelines for capitalization and joining syllables of geographic names and personal names.

    Example: Guanyin dian
  • Other romanization systems: Whenever possible, site names for the Hedda Morrison photograph collection were romanized from Chinese characters using Pinyin transliteration. In a few cases, Chinese characters were not available and English site names and/or Hedda Morrison's original transcriptions (mostly in Wade-Giles) were retained.

    Examples: Ta-tsun

  • English-language versions of Chinese site names: In some instances HOLLIS and the Library of Congress have retained an English-language form of a Chinese site name as the authorized name if the English-language form is commonly used.

    Examples: Forbidden City
    Ming Tombs
    Yellow River

When Hedda Morrison did not give a complete Chinese name for a site, some English was used:

Examples: Foundry, Mentougou Qu, Hebei Sheng, China
Incense factory, Ts'a-ho, Hebei Sheng, China
Liu-li-ho Valley
Lo-pu-ch'iao Village
Facade of Xiang luan ge - HM24.0921
Facade of Xiang luan ge

Display of Site Names in VIA
Site names appearing in VIA may include one or more of the fields below and are displayed in the following order:

  • Site name (for complicated sites, a site name may have two parts)
  • Complex name
  • City name or other place name
  • State or province name
  • Country name


Examples: Bao he dian, Forbidden City, Beijing, China
Chang ling, Ling en dian, Ming Tombs, Changping, Hebei Sheng, China
Da hong tai, Pu tuo zong cheng miao, Chengde, Hebei Sheng, China
Incense factory, Ts'a-ho, Hebei Sheng, China
Lin ji si, Zhengding, Hebei Sheng, China
Long guang pai lou, Beihai Gong Yuan, Beijing, China
Ze liu yu jing, Hua Mountain, Shaanxi Sheng, China

Site Types

Images of sites may also be retrieved using generic terms for types of sites. Search by combining the search for "Hedda Morrison" in Name with a site type in Anywhere. Limit the search to holdings of Harvard-Yenching Library.The following site types are represented in the Hedda Morrison photograph collection:

archives (buildings)
bell towers
cave temples
city gates
covered walkways
halls (buildings)
memorial arches
parks (grounds)
pavilions (buildings)
pavilions (garden structures)
peaks (landform components)
studios (work spaces)
temple complexes
terrace houses
towers (single built works)
valleys (landforms)
temple complexes

Searching for Subjects

One or multiple subject index terms were entered in the cataloging records for the Hedda Morrison photograph collection as a whole, for each album, and for individual photographs. Terms were selected from a controlled list based on the vocabularies of the Art and Architecture Thesaurus, the Library of Congress Subject Headings, and other authorities. Simple terms rather than compound terms or strings of terms were preferred. Subjects can be searched by combining the search for "Hedda Morrison" in Name with one or more subject terms in Subject. Limit the search to holdings of Harvard-Yenching Library.

Level of indexing: not exhaustive

Indexing was not exhaustive; only the most prominent subjects in a photograph were indexed. In addition, if objects generally occurred as a group, they were indexed as a group. Example: To find groupings of candlesticks, vases, and incense burners commonly found on altars, search for "ritual objects" or "altars" rather than for the individual objects.

Specificity of indexing: most specific terms

Collective terms, i.e., "animals" or "musical instruments," were generally used when more precise terms could not be determined or if more than three types (bells, gongs, drums, and trumpets) were depicted in an image. Otherwise, a specific term was preferred.

Truncation and wild cards

An asterisk " * " may be used as a wild card and for truncating search terms.


To find photographs of gourds or decorative objects that use gourds as a motif:

Screenshot from VIA's main search page

To find photographs of women search for: "wom*n" [woman and women]
To find photographs of children search for:    "child*" [child and children]
and "girl*" [girl and girls]
and "boy*" [boy and boys]
To find photographs of drums search for: "drum*" [drum and drums]
and "percussion instruments"
and "musical instruments"
Woman and child eating at a food stand - HM20.1651
Woman and child eating at a food stand

Searching for Personal Names

Personal names can be searched by combining the search for "Hedda Morrison" in Name with another personal name in Name. Limit the search to holdings of Harvard-Yenching Library.

Romanization guidelines for personal names

Personal names (established in VIA for historical figures, deities, and fictional or legendary characters) are also romanized in conformance with existing HOLLIS authority records. When romanizing a personal name, the syllables of the family name are joined and followed by a space before the forename. The syllables of given names, forenames, titles, or terms of address are also joined.


Artists: Qi Baishi
Gu Xing
Daoist Immortals:    Lan Caihe
Han Xiangzi

For some deities, names authorized in HOLLIS are in romanized Sanskrit rather than romanized Chinese. Therefore, in records for Hedda Morrison's photographs, the names of some deities may occur in Chinese, Sanskrit, or both. For example, if Morrison identifies a deity using Chinese romanization, the Chinese form is used in the title of the photograph and a reference is made to the Sanskrit form authorized in HOLLIS.

The most comprehensive searches for deities will use both types of romanization with truncation if appropriate.

Examples: Avalokitesvara or Guanyin
Arhat* or Luohan*

Artist Qi Baishi painting - HM06.4758
Artist Qi Baishi painting

Copyright and Access

Access to original photographs, negatives, and albums in the Hedda Morrison photograph collection is restricted. Photographs and images from the collection may be reproduced only with written permission. Contact the Harvard-Yenching Library for permissions and fees. When inquiring about a specific photograph, please make reference to the repository number in the VIA catalog record.


Before the switch to Pinyin romanization at Harvard, many site names and personal names were established in VIA using Wade-Giles romanization. Some of these terms have not yet been converted to Pinyin romanization.


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Page Last Reviewed: July 10, 2017