Rare Local Gazetteers at Harvard-Yenching Library: Open Access Collection Launched

Harvard YenchingLocal gazetteers are a well-established genre and a valuable source for studies of Chinese history. Since 2013, the Local Gazetteers Working Group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) has been conducting research on Chinese local gazetteers by transforming printed materials into a database for new forms of digital historical analysis.

In order to most benefit the scholarly community, the MPIWG has now partnered with Harvard-Yenching Library to launch the first high-quality, scholarly open-access database from the rare Chinese local gazetteers in its holdings.

These full texts were produced manually rather than by OCR to ensure the highest accuracy (>99 per cent), and titles for production were selected based on rarity and geographic coverage, vis-à-vis those already digitized in commercial databases. Together with scanned pages already made available by Harvard-Yenching Library, scholars now have a full set of high-quality, digitized corpus of Chinese local gazetteers for research without paying subscription or licensing fees.

The production of full texts in this database was made possible by the generous financial support from the Max Planck Society’s Presidential Fund and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange’s Database Grant. Usage of the database is governed by the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license.