Local gazetteers are a well-established genre and a valuable source for studies of Chinese history. Since 2013, MPIWG’s Local Gazetteers working group has been conducting research on Chinese local gazetteers by transforming printed materials into a scholarly, enhanced database for new forms of digital historical analysis. However, our efforts to pursue this research while adhering to the open-access principles of the Berlin Declaration was hindered; the majority of digitized full texts exist in expensive commercial databases, and the few open-access collections of Chinese local gazetteers are small and of lower quality in comparison.
To address this lacuna in order to bring the most benefit to the scholarly community, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science has partnered with Harvard-Yenching Library to produce a high-quality, open-access full-text 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 (see "Further Links" below), 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 this database is governed by the CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 International license. If you make use of the full texts, please cite this webpage accordingly.
Access the Open Database
Via the RISE Catalog and/or the SHINE API
Plain texts of the local gazetteer titles in this database are included in the RISE research infrastructure as the "MPIWG - 哈佛燕京" collection. Besides manual selection from the RISE Catalog, API functionalities are also available via SHINE, which allows for integration in your own catalog’s or research tool’s user interface. As an example, here we provide instructions on how to fetch the texts via the SHINE API in Python.
Via Local Gazetteers Research Tools (LoGaRT)
LoGaRT is a suite of digital tools developed to transform texts in Chinese local gazetteers into structured data, to perform systematic analyses, and to visualize search results. Local gazetteer titles in this database will be processed into the requisite format and released in conjunction with an open version of LoGaRT. To learn more about LoGaRT, please visit the LoGaRT site and sign up to the mailing list so you will be notified when its open version is released later this year.