China Professional Occupation Datasets (CPOD) 中国专业职业人员数据库

Beginning from 2016, because of our interest in better understanding the development of professional education and employment in China, we decided to create the China Professional Occupation Datasets (CPOD) for six professional occupations – certified accountants, engineers, health professionals, legal professionals, university faculty and staff, and academicians and experts – during the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

We have already located data for some 75,000 such professionals, largely from the Republic of China, and have entered information for almost 50,000, many of whose student records are in the CUSD-ROC and CUSD-OS, and who may also have records in the CGED-ROC as they worked both in private practice and pubic service.



The beginnings of modern professional education in China predate the dissolution of the civil service examination system in 1905 with the introduction of such training by foreign often Missionary organizations as well as by some Qing government entities.

In the absence of such professional qualifying examinations as Law and Medical boards typical elsewhere, university education during the Republican period continued therefore to focus more on professional training and skills than broad education and learning. This was especially true in such professionally related schools as business, education, engineering, health and law where a degree was a prerequisite for official certification in these professions.

Project History

The idea of creating the China Professional Occupation Datasets (CPOD) dates back to 2016 when Bamboo Y. Ren explored various individual records related to the above datasets from microfilms of Liaoning Provincial Archives holdings stored at FamilySearch (Genealogical Society of Utah). James Z. Lee realized the potential of these archival records and prioritized the initial compilation of the CPOD-UE-PRC in 2017, collaborating with Bamboo Y. Ren and Wenhao Jiang. In 2018, Bamboo Ren located two volumes of faculty lists in 1941 and 1944 created by the Ministry of Education and complied the CPOD-UE-ROC from these published books, with the help of Zixin Zhang, Yuying Shen, and Haoyuan Li. In 2019, Yibei Wu and Li Yang further expanded the CPOD-UE-ROC by adding faculty records dating from 1947 and 1948 preserved in the Second Historical Archives. In the meantime, James Z. Lee subsequently obtained permission and collaborated with the Zhejiang University Archives to enter all ZJU employees records in the Republican period and the early People’s Republic period.

Alongside the construction of the CPOD-UE, James Z. Lee encouraged Bamboo Y. Ren to explore and collect individual data for other professionals in the twentieth century as part of her PhD research. With the help of many coders, the CPOD-CA-ROC was compiled in 2017, and the CPOD-EP-ROC, CPOD-LP-ROC and the CPOD-HP-ROC were completed in 2019.  At the same time, David Y. Zuo, working as a research assistant for James Z. Lee, began to compile the CPOD-AE which he completed before beginning his studies in Fall 2021 as a Nanjing University PhD student in history under Chen Liang.

CPOD Data Series

The CPOD currently includes six discrete datasets: the China Certified Accountant Dataset or CPOD-CA; the China Engineering Professional Dataset or CPOD-EP; the China Legal Professional Dataset or CPOD-LP; the China Health Professional Dataset or CPOD-HP; the China University Employee Dataset or CPOD-UE, and the China Academician and Expert Dataset or CPOD-AE. In every case, when appropriate, we also distinguish between the Republic of China and Peoples Republic of China.

The CPOD-CA currently includes 2,021 records of 2008 unique certified accountants who registered with the Republic of China Ministry of Economic Affairs, 490 of whom are also in the CUSD-ROC. These ROC Ministry of Economic Affair Archives data are preserved in the Academia Sinica Institute of Modern History Archives in Taipei and available online. Variables include name, age, place of origin, prior education and employment qualifications, certificate of approval, and qualification date.

The CPOD-EP currently includes data on 20,967 engineers in the Republic of China, 4358 of whom are also in the CUSD-ROC. Most of the CED-ROC data are from Who’s Who of Chinese Engineers published in 1941, based on a survey by the ROC National Resources Commission supplemented by published lists of members of the China Institute of Engineers and the Chinese Society of Power Engineering, 1919-1948. Common variables include name, place of origin, education qualification, employment history, and correspondence address and phone number.

The CPOD-LP currently includes just 1,350 lawyers based on various Law Association Membership Lists from Beijing and Shanghai during the Republic of China, but will hopefully grow to include more localities. Primary sources for the CLPD-ROC are a list of members of the Beijing Law Association from 1912 to 1931 summarized in Michael Ng 2014, and a list of members of the Shanghai Law Association in 1935 from The Modern and Contemporary Persons Integrated Information System constructed by Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Common variables include year, name, place of origin, and university education.

The CPOD-HP currently includes 5,024 doctors of Western medicine in the Republic of China. The primary source for the CHPD-ROC is the Chinese Medical Directory published by the Chinese Medical Association in 1940. Common variables include name, place of origin, sex, office address, residence address, telephone number, education qualifications, employment history and publications.

As for the CPOD-UE-ROC, we have already entered data for 5,340 university professorial faculty surveyed by the Ministry of Education in 1941 and 1944, 1,229 of whom can be traced to their CUSD-ROC records. While the MOE also did a similar survey in 1947 of another 2000 plus professorial and teaching faculty, we are only able to locate part of the data for these individuals at the Second Historical Archives of China. In addition, the Zhejiang University Archives has completed data entry for 10,000-15,000 university employees from the Zhejiang University Archives which they have agreed to share with us. Common variables include name, sex, age, place of origin, discipline, concentration, academic position, prior tertiary and post tertiary education, employment history, and current employer.

We have also begun to compile the CPOD-UE-PRC which currently includes over 5,500 individual records of university employees in the People’s Republic of China. This sub-dataset is expanding and will eventually include over 15,000 records of university employees from 1949 on. The primary source for the CUED-PRC are the CVs and registration forms of university employees collected during the period of Reorganization of the Higher Education System in China (yuanxi tiaozheng). Other sources include various lists of university employees reported to the Higher Education Education Bureau in the 1950s and 1960s stored in the Beijing and Shanghai Municipal Archives. Common variables include name, sex, age, place of origin, family origin, health status, ethnicity, religion, political studies, teaching experience, publications education qualification, courses taught, skills, foreign language ability, family background and biographic information of family members.

The CPOD-AE contains detailed information for 4999 scholars who comprise many of the best scholars in the Chinese academe including 53 Academia Sinica Fellows elected in the physical and biological sciences before 1949, 2545 Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) academicians, 36 of whom were also Academia Sinica Fellows, elected beginning from 1955 and 1994 respectively, and 3308 ‘experts’ selected by the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), 871 of whom were also CAS and CAE academicians.  Data for CAS and CAE academicians are from their online and published biographies as well as from the membership offices of both academies.  Data for CAST experts are largely from their published biographies in 钱三强, 朱光亚, 周光召. Eds, 1991-2015,《中国科学技术专家传略》(Collection of Biographies of Chinese Science and Technology Experts), 中国科学技术出版社, which includes 1351 engineers, 858 agrarian scientists, 807 natural scientists, and 334 medical scientists supplemented by other information from other sources.

Project Funding

Data entry for the CPOD has been supported by General Research Fund of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council Project Number 16602117 James Z. Lee PI (Co-I Cameron Campbell, Liang Chen), The Social and Spatial Origins of China’s Educated Elite: 1865-2014 and by intramural funds from HKUST.

Data Access

The global Covid pandemic and consequent temporary closing of many archives and libraries has inevitably delayed the completion of the CPOD datasets several of which are still undergoing construction.  However, we do plan eventually to release these data for academic use in collaboration with our various co-investigators and collaborators.  The only current exception is the CPOD-UE-ROC data from the Zhejiang University Archives which belongs to Zhejiang University.