Teacher guide The First Opium War: the Anglo-Chinese war of 1839-42

TLF ID M008717

This is a collection of online materials about the first example of 'gunboat diplomacy' in Asia: the First Opium War. The materials consist of an illustrated essay by Professor Peter C Perdue and four galleries containing 182 images. Chapters in the essay cover: the opium trade; production and consumption; hostilities; the first unequal treaty; and war stories. The image galleries contain: depictions of the war, illustrations by Shiva Lal of opium production in Patna, India; illustrations from John Ouchterlony's book 'The Chinese war'; and five articles from the 'Saturday Magazine' during 1843.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This is a highly significant resource, rich in primary and secondary sources from British, Chinese and Indian perspectives. Both the sources and perspectives are analysed in the detailed essay. It is an important resource for modern history studies in years 11 and 12 and for the year 9 history elective depth study Asia and the world. It is particularly relevant for studies of the effects of contact with European power/s and of one key event in the history of that contact.
  • The centrepiece of this resource is the illustrated essay. It contains 102 illustrations from the time, three maps and links to a Chinese scroll and poem, documents, a modern film clip and a companion resource: 'The opium war in Japanese eyes'. The evaluation of the historical sources for the war is useful for developing an understanding of the concept of historical perspective.
  • The four image galleries provide rarely seen visual records of the British military assault on China during the war; of the ports established in China as a result of the first unequal treaty; and of opium production in India. The opium production gallery is especially useful. It illustrates the various roles undertaken by Indians forced to work at the East India Company's main centre of opium production. The 19 images were painted by Indian artist Shiva Lal.
Year level

9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • History
  • Humanities and Social Sciences

Other details

  • Author
  • Person: Peter Purdue
  • Description: Author
  • Contributor
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Person: Peter Purdue
  • Description: Author
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL: http://www.esa.edu.au/
  • Name: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Organization: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: Massachusetts, UNITED STATES
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL: www.esa.edu.au
Access profile
  • Generic
Learning Resource Type
  • Online
  • Image courtesy Massachusetts Institute of Technology © 2010 Visualizing Cultures. Creative Commons-Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0. Metadata © Education Services Australia Ltd 2011 (except where otherwise indicated). You may copy, communicate and adapt this metadata for non-commercial educational purposes provided you retain all acknowledgements associated with the material.