Chinese Archival Handbooks

Investigating the structure of state archives in China

One of the hurdles researchers of modern and contemporary China face in their study is knowing about and having access to the collections held at Chinese state-run archives. These archives have generally not only been very protective of their collections, but have also been quite secretive about what material they hold in the first place.

This project has two aims: Firstly, it wants to investigate the structure of state archives in China. The concept of archive in China differs in many respects from the concept of archive in the west. This raises the question what material is actually held at Chinese state archives vis-à-vis other cultural heritage institutions. The dataset to be build would allow to investigate these issues with a focus on subsidiarity in the archival collection building, including the question of representation of Chinese National Minorities within those collections. Secondly the projects address the general needs of researchers of Modern and Contemporary China to know about the contents of Chinese archives by creating a searchable index to the finding aids of Chinese archival collections. Instead of having to ask if a specific archive holds material on a certain topic, the researchers would gain knowledge of the existence of such archives before their arrival and would therefore be able to ask for access to a specific collection. Thus, the project will have an enormous empowering effect for researchers of China around the world.

CDH Grant History

  • 2020–2021 Dataset Curation