Structured datasets extracted from 41 early gazetteers held by the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica and  2,000 later gazetteers will be made available here.


Local gazetteers are massive repositories of data pertaining to mountains and rivers, roads and bridges, administrative divisions, taxes and population, agricultural production, disasters and epidemics, notable local people, government officials, public and private schools, tombs and monuments, religious sites, selected writings of local authors, and a host of other topics. They were first introduced at the prefectural level (about 350 prefectures), were slowly adopted by counties (about 1300), and eventually were even written for some towns and religious sites. Authors of gazetteers focused primarily on the amassing of data rather than interpretation of events, and the categories of information they collected remained fairly consistent since the twelfth century. Individual researchers have used gazetteers to gather information on particular topics, such as natural disasters, examination candidates, and religious sites. However, systematic, national-level studies based on gazetteer data are very rare because the process of manually collecting data is extremely laborious, cannot be easily altered once begun, and is difficult to replicate in related studies. 

Opening up data from thousands of gazetteers will transform research in various subfields in Chinese and world history. Since the 1970s Chinese historians and anthropologists have rewritten Chinese history from the bottom up by investigating regional systems that cut across the administrative divisions in which the Chinese territories had been subdivided since the Qin Dynasty. Their studies have by necessity been focused on case studies. Because gazetteers were not written according to fixed or synchronized time schedules, it has also been difficult to compare the histories of different locales and regions over time. By collecting data from 2000 gazetteers across time and across space, this project will make regional systems analysis across the Chinese territories possible for the first time and allow for the systematic analysis of a range of topics including networks of communication, patterns in cropping and production, and social and kinship associations across administrative boundaries. 



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