The Shanghai Municipal Council was founded in 1854 by a group of Western businessmen to govern the daily matters of the Shanghai International Settlement. The period covered by these materials was a tumultuous one in the history of China, covering the republican revolution, the first and second Sino-Japanese wars, and the civil war. These events are all reflected in the Council's documents.
The Minutes are of the meetings of the Board of Directors, during which a wide variety of topics were discussed. These included matters such as sanitation, transportation, telecommunication and postal service, taxation, urban planning, gas supply, street lighting, rickshaw operator management, animal protection, and the police system.
The Gazette was the official organ of the Council, and published notifications, departmental reports, letters from readers, policies and orders formulated by the Council.