New publication using process mining to study the careers of Qing officials in the CGED-Q JSL

Adam Burke at the Queensland University of Technology lead-authored a paper “State Snapshot Process Discovery on Career Paths of Qing Dynasty Civil Servants” that introduces a new process mining technique he calls ‘state snapshot process discovery’ and illustrates it by application to our CGED-Q JSL data on the careers of jinshi officials. Cameron Campbell is a co-author. The paper has been accepted for presentation at the 5th International Conference on Process Mining (ICPM2023), in Rome, Italy, in October 2023.

A pre-print of the paper is available at Adam’s website:

Here is a figure from the paper that summarizes the empirical reconstruction of the careers of first and second tier (一甲 and 二甲) jinshi in the years after they earned their degree. One of the attractions of the CGED-Q JSL for demonstrating this technique was that there were canonical career pathways specified by regulations for such high-ranked degree holders, thus it was possible to assess whether the empirical results derived from the data were consistent with the canonical career pathways. We hope that extensions of this technique, and possibly other techniques, can be used to explore the trajectories of officials with more mundane qualifications.

For this paper, Cameron Campbell helped Adam and the other collaborators (Sander Leemans and Moe T. Wynn) understand the data that we provided, and advise on adjustments to accommodate undocumented or otherwise unanticipated features of the data in successive iterations, and then assist in the writing of sections related to the data and the historical context, background on the social science studies of careers, the interpretation of the results.

We are happy to collaborate with computer scientists and other researchers developing techniques for understanding careers and trajectories more generally in complex longitudinal data, who need data like the CGED-Q to showcase their approaches.

English version of forthcoming paper on the organizational demography of the Qing civil service

社會科學研究 (Social Science Research) published by the Sichuan Academy of Social Science has accepted our paper “The Organizational Demography of the Qing Civil Service, 1830-1911” and tentatively scheduled it for publication in 2024. In the meantime, they have given permission for us to share the English language version. Here is the PDF:

The Organizational Demography of the Qing Civil Service, 1830-1911

The paper is largely descriptive. It uses the CGED-Q JSL to measure the turnover of officials, career lengths, and years since appointment for currently serving officials. It was inspired by the older literature on organizational demography that sought to relate the performance of organizations to aggregate ‘demographic’ features such as their turnover, length of service and so forth. We hope that it will be a useful reference for anyone studying Qing officialdom. Previous studies of the dynamics of Qing official have focused on the lengths of appointments to specific posts, and turnover in those posts, rather than entire careers.

Here is the abstract:

We study the organizational demography of the Qing civil service from 1830 to 1911. Before the 20th century, the Qing bureaucracy was one of the largest non-military organizations in the world in terms of numbers of regular employees. At any given time, approximately 13,000 officials held formal appointments. We present the basic features of its organizational demography using data on nearly all civil officials with formal appointments from 1830 to 1912. We make use of longitudinally linked records of officials in the China Government Employee Database – Jinshenlu (CGED-Q JSL) to reconstruct rates of exit from service, the career lengths of officials, and the number of years since first appointment for currently serving officials. While previous studies of the Qing have examined turnover in specific types of posts, they have not considered the dynamics of complete careers. We find that exit rates in the first year of service were high and then low and stable afterward. While most officials only served for a short time, currently serving officials were relatively experienced. We also show that rates of exit from service declined for much of the last half of the 19th century, and then increased in the first decade of the 20th century. Declining turnover in the last half of the 19th century would have reduced opportunities for degree holders seeking posts and for officials seeking promotion at a time when the number of holders of purchased degrees competing for posts was increasing. We also compare different categories of officials. The results not only illuminate basic features of the organizational demography of Qing officialdom, but also provide a baseline for interpreting results from case studies of specific groups of officials or specific time periods.

Here’s a figure from the paper, presenting time trends in rates of exit from service in the next three months for officials with different amounts of experience:

Tutorial for using R to analyze the CGED-Q JSL Public Releases

Chen Jun, my MA student at Central China Normal University, has shared slides and sample code he produced to help anyone planning to use R to analyze the CGED-Q JSL public releases. The materials are all in Chinese. They introduce how to import the public data into R, create and transform variables, process strings to create variables, and tabulate and graph results. We hope that this will be useful to users of the data.

CGED-Q JSL receives Best Project Award (最佳项目奖 ) at China Digital Humanities 2022 Annual Meeting

We are pleased to report that the China Government Employee-Qing (CGED-Q) Jinshenlu (JSL) dataset was one of four to receive the Best Project Award (最佳项目奖 ) at the China Digital Humanities 2022 Annual Meeting held at Renmin University on November 26 and 27.

For more information about the award, please see the final report of the CDH 2022 meeting.

For more information about the CGED-Q JSL, please see the project page at the Lee-Campbell Group Website.

New paper on nominative linkage in the CGED-Q in Historical Life Course Studies

Cameron Campbell and Bijia Chen published a paper “Nominative Linkage of Records of Officials in the China Government Employee Dataset-Qing (CGED-Q)” in Historical Life Course Studies. It shares their experience with nominative linkage in the CGED-Q. It is  intended to be useful to others who are engaged in large-scale, automated nominative linkage (disambiguation) of individuals in historical Chinese-language sources.

While the approach that they arrived at after many iterations may be specific to the CGED-Q and its contents, the summary of the challenges will be of broader interest, and the methods should at least be a roadmap for others with related projects. Major issues the paper documents and then addresses include the use of variant orthographies for the same character in different editions or sources, replacement of characters with ones that look similar but are actually completely different, replacement of characters with homophones, inconsistencies in the writing of the names of counties, and changes in boundaries that led the same county to be associated with different provinces in different sources or editions.

The complete tabulations that are the basis of the tables in the paper are also available. These include the frequencies of surnames and given names in the CGED-Q JSL, and the frequencies of discordance across record of the same individual in the recording of surnames, characters in given names, and place of origin. The tabulations can be downloaded at the HKUST and Harvard Dataspaces:

Those not specifically interested in linkage may still be interested in the tabulations of surnames and characters in given names.


Footnote 21 on page 245 states that “Huguang湖廣” refers to “Hunan and Guangdong”. Ma Ziyao has written to point out that “In most cases, however, it has been a legacy term for Hubei and Hunan. The “guang” here originally comes from Guangxi during the Yuan but should not be mistaken for the Qing-era Liangguang兩廣 region to the south of Hunan.” We are grateful to Ma Ziyao for bringing this to our attention.

Xue Qin publishes lead-authored article on officials in the Ministry of Personnel in the late Qing using the CGED-Q

Xue Qin published a lead-authored article on officials in the Ministry of Personnel in the late Qing that uses the CGED-Q. The title of the article is 清季改革视阈下吏部官员群体的人事递嬗与结构变迁(1898—1911)——以《缙绅录》数据库为中心 Change and Constancy: The Personnel Evolution and Structural Change of the Ministry of Personnel during the Reform in Qing Dynasty —— Based on China Government Employee Database – Qing (CGED-Q). The article appeared in 社会科学研究 (Social Science Research). Cameron Campbell was the second author.

Here is the Chinese language abstract:


Complete reference:

薛勤 (Xue Qin) and 康文林 (Cameron Campbell). 2022. 清季改革视阈下吏部官员群体的人事递嬗与结构变迁(1898—1911)——以《缙绅录》数据库为中心 Change and Constancy: The Personnel Evolution and Structural Change of the Ministry of Personnel during the Reform in Qing Dynasty  —— Based on China Government Employee Database – Qing (CGED-Q). 社会科学研究 (Social Science Research). 2(259):173-182.

Congratulations Xue Qin!


CGED-Q Jinshenlu 1850-1864 Public Release now available

We just made available for download the China Government Employee Database-Qing (CGED-Q) Jinshenlu 1850-1864 Public Release.This release consists of 341,092 quarterly records of 37,632 (by our linkage) officials who served between 1850 to 1864. The information is drawn from 26 quarterly editions.

We chose 1850-1864 as the next period for a release since it includes the Taiping Rebellion, a major event in 19th century Qing history.

Each record includes information about the post, and if it was occupied, the holder, including their name, province and county of origin, qualification, and other information.

Together with our previous release of 686,945 records for the period 1900-1912, we have now released publicly more than 1,000,000 records from the CGED-Q.

The 1850-1864 and 1900-1912 releases may be downloaded at the HKUST Dataspace, the Harvard Dataverse, and the mirror site at Renmin University Institute for Qing History:

HKUST Dataspace

Harvard Dataverse

Renmin University Institute for Qing History