Major phase of data entry for the China Government Employee Database-Qing Jinshenlu (CGED-Q JSL) completed

In November 2021, our coders completed the entry of virtually all the quarterly editions of the rosters of Qing civil officials 縉紳錄 and military officials 中樞備覧 available to the Lee-Campbell Group, including all the editions from the published Tsinghua University Library collection and other editions from  the Columbia University and Harvard University libraries, as well as the National Library and Shanghai Library. We are grateful to the staff of all these libraries, in particular the Columbia University Library, for their cooperation in making their library holdings available.  We have also located a number of other editions in the Peking University library and the Palace Museum Library, but do not yet have access to these data.  We are not aware of any other readily accessible editions in other collections.

The CGED-Q JSL now consists of 4,433,600 records of 327,618 officials for the period between 1760 and 1912. 3,843,644 are records of civil offices in editions of the jinshenlu and 589,956 are records of military offices in editions of the zhongshubeilan. The data are most complete for the period 1830 to 1912. According to our analysis based on our most recent record linkage, of these officials, 261,451 were civil officials, 58,482 were military officials, and 7,685 made appearances as both civil and military officials. Please note that since these counts of numbers of officials are based on record linkage, they may change as we adjust our nominative linkage procedures.

Figure 1 (below) summarizes the coverage of the entered 縉紳錄 editions by decade (black bar) and compares it to the potential coverage if all the editions in different collections were entered. In the 1840s, and then from 1870 to 1912, we have entered at least one edition per year. In the 1830s, and then from 1850 to 1869, we have at least one edition entered for 9 out of 10 years in each decade. Between 1800 and 1830, the coverage of our entered data is spottier. We have at least one edition in 7 out of 10 years in the 1800s, 4 out of 10 years in the 1810s, and 6 out of 10 years in the 1820. From 1760 to 1800, our coverage is less complete, with at least one edition entered every 2 to 4 years per decade.

Figure 1. Entered and Available Editions

Based on our review of the catalogs of other collections, it should still be possible to improve coverage of the last half of the 18th century and first half of the 19th century. The heights of the green bars represent the numbers of years for which at least one edition appears to exist in other collections. Most of these are in the Peking University Library and the Palace Museum. We hope very much to gain access to these collections at some point in the future.

Figure 2 presents a more detailed view of the coverage of the editions so far. From about 1865 onward, we have 3 or 4 editions per year entered all the way to 1911. From 1830 to 1865 or so, we have at least one or two editions per year entered, except for one year each in the 1850s and 1860s where we have no editions at all. Before 1830, it is more common to have one or two editions entered, or none at all.

Figure 2. Entered editions by year

For more details about the CGED, please see the project page.

Addendum – 30 April 2022

Since November 2021, we found five more editions that had been entered but not added to our central work file. This post and the content of related pages has been accordingly updated.

CGED-Q Jinshenlu 1900-1912 Public Release Tabulation and Visualization Platform

Charlie Liu, an undergraduate in the Quantitative Social Analysis program at HKUST, created a platform for producing tabulations and visualizations with the CGED-Q Jinshenlu 1900-1912 Public Release. At the platform, users can explore the contents of the publicly released CGED-Q  for the period 1900-1912 without having to download data and open it in a statistical package in R or Stata. Among the available variables are province and county of origin, location of current post, Banner status, and exam or purchase degree (出身). Here is the CGED-Q tabulation and visualization platform.

Our CGED-Q project page has more information about the CGED-Q itself, including links to sites where advanced users can download the data to be analyzed in a statistical package like R or Stata. These sites also include documentation.

As a reminder, if you’re looking for a specific official, the entire CGED-Q is searchable via this platform, originally created by Fi Siwei and housed on a server by the HKUST VisGroup.


New Lee-Campbell Group Dataverse at Harvard Dataverse, with CGED-Q Jinshenlu 1900-1912 Public Release

We have created a Lee-Campbell Group Dataverse at Harvard Dataverse to host the CGED-Q Jinshenlu 1900-1912 Public Release and future publicly releases. This will complement the sites that already host our public data at the HKUST Dataspace and the Renmin University Institute of Qing History. We hope that this will facilitate access to the data by users in North America and also increase the visibility of the publicly released data.

Lee-Campbell Group Dataverse at Harvard Dataverse

CGED-Q Jinshenlu 1900-1912 Public Release at Harvard Dataverse

Data will continue to be available at the existing sites. Please see the CGED-Q page for links.

Cameron Campbell’s 2020 paper on exam degree holders at the end of the Qing mentioned in 2020年历史学研究发展报告

Cameron Campbell’s 2020 paper in 社会科学辑刊 on the careers of exam degree holders at the end of the Qing was mentioned in a year-end report on the development of the discipline of history in 2020 (2020年历史学研究发展报告) published at China Social Science News (中国社会科学网), which is the official media platform of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (中国社会科学院). It was one of six papers listed in the section on Modern Chinese History and National History (中国近代史, 国史研究) subsection on National Governance (聚焦国家治理).

Paper on CGED-Q visualization in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics by Bijia Chen, Cameron Campbell and others

Bijia Chen and Cameron Campbell were co-authors on a paper titled “Interactive Visual Exploration of Longitudinal Historical Career Mobility Data” that just appeared in IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics that introduces CareerLens, a visualization platform for exploring the careers of officials and their social networks in the China Government Employee Dataset-Qing. The lead author, Yifang Wang, is a PhD student of Professor Huamin Qu, a colleague in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at HKUST whose research focuses on visualization and graphics. Other co-authors include Professor Qu and members of his VisLab group.

Here is a link to the paper:

Wang Yifang’s website has a page about the paper that includes a downloadable PDF, for those of you who can’t access it from the IEEE website.

An example of the CareerLens interface

And the abstract…

Abstract: The increased availability of quantitative historical datasets has provided new research opportunities for multiple disciplines in social science. In this paper, we work closely with the constructors of a new dataset, CGED-Q (China Government Employee Database-Qing), that records the career trajectories of over 340,000 government officials in the Qing bureaucracy in China from 1760 to 1912. We use these data to study career mobility from a historical perspective and understand social mobility and inequality. However, existing statistical approaches are inadequate for analyzing career mobility in this historical dataset with its fine-grained attributes and long time span, since they are mostly hypothesis-driven and require substantial effort. We propose CareerLens, an interactive visual analytics system for assisting experts in exploring, understanding, and reasoning from historical career data. With CareerLens, experts examine mobility patterns in three levels-of-detail, namely, the macro-level providing a summary of overall mobility, the meso-level extracting latent group mobility patterns, and the micro-level revealing social relationships of individuals. We demonstrate the effectiveness and usability of CareerLens through two case studies and receive encouraging feedback from follow-up interviews with domain experts

New paper on prefects during the Qing using the CGED-Q

Hu Heng at the Institute of Qing History at Renmin University just published a paper on the appointment of prefects during the Qing, with Bijia Chen and me as second and third authors. The paper makes use of spatial data as well as the government ratings of prefectures that determined who controlled the appointment of their prefects, and makes use of the CGED-Q to examine the qualifications, and previous and subsequent appointments of prefects. The paper is available here: Here is the abstract:
Prefects played an essential role in the system of local government during the Qing dynasty. Examining the process by which they were appointed, including exceptions and variations, sheds light on the governing strategies of the Qing state. We conduct spatial and quantitative analysis of the appointment of prefects based on the most recent data on the government’s ratings of the significance and difficulty (chongfanpinan and quefen) for each prefecture. The results reveal the importance of the process of appointment of variations across prefectures in transportation, government affairs, revenue collection, and public security. They collectively determined who had the authority to appoint the prefect for a prefecture: the Emperor (gingzhi que), the Board of Personnel (buxuan que), or the Governor-General (tidiao que). Appointments by the Emperor accounted for 48.3 percent of prefectures. These were in the most important regions of the country. Appointments by the Governor-General accounted for 26.1 percent of prefectures. At the beginning they were mainly in the regions where the Miao resided, including Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi and Hunan. Later, some prefectures on the provincial boundaries were also included. In the late Qing, prefects in all the newly created provinces were appointed by Govermors-General. Appointments by the Board of Personnel accounted for 25.6% of prefectures and they were concentrated in areas close to the boundaries of inland provinces. The spatial distribution of the classifications generally followed the government’s assessment of the difficulties of governing various regions in China, but there were exceptions and problems like the differentiation of treatment in the Southwestern boundary regions, neglect of the change of prefectures and classifications in coastal border areas and qualification immutability. The classification of prefectures was closely related to the appointment of prefects. We analyzed the career histories of 3403 prefects recorded in 37752 entries about Qing civil servants extracted from the 3,000,000 in nearly CGED-Q database. Using STATA to categorize, summarize, correlate and track these data ,, we examine the time trends in the characteristics of prefects, including the proportions of Manchu or Han prefects and their province of origin. For the latter, we focused specifically on the increase in the number of prefects from Hunan in the late Qing period. The results of our analysis make use of new data to advance our understanding of the political geography of China in the late Qing and the Republican periods. Regarding the career transitions in the civil service, 61.9 percent of prefects were transferred from posts in the central govermment and only 35.8 percent were promoted from posts in local govermments. This undoubtedly had a negative effect on the motivation of county magistrates. Prospects for promotion for prefects was generally high: 21 percent would reach higher office. For prefects who served in prefectures categorized as most significant (zuiyao gue) and significant (vao gue), the chance of promotion was between 23.5 and 26.3 percent. Those who were prefects in provincial capitals had even higher chances of being promoted: 40.5 percent. The distribution of control over the appointment of prefects and the institutional changes over time reveal the tension and competition over power between the central and local government. In the Qing, governance at the prefectural level was characterized as "blocking between the upper and the lower [level of government]". This was partly driven by the structure of the system, according to which officials were more likely to manage other officials than govern people, and prefects were more likely to be transferred from the central government than promoted from lower levels of local government. The increased power of Governor-Generals and the prevalence of temporary appointments for prefects may have been responses to these drawbacks, but the imbalance of the distribution of power was also a challenge for the state.
胡恆(Hu Heng), 陳必佳(Bijia Chen) and 康文林(Cameron D. Campbell. 2020. 清代知府選任的空間與量化分析——以政區分等、《縉紳錄》數據庫為中心 (The Appointment of Prefects during the Qing —- A Spatial and Quantitative Analysis Focusing on the System of Administrative Division and Using the CGED-Q). 新亞學報(New Asia Journal).37(August):339-398.

New paper by Cameron Campbell on exam degree holders at the end of the Qing

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-1-739x1024.pngCameron Campbell recently published a paper titled 清末科举停废对士人文官群体的影响——基于微观大数据的宏观新视角 in 社会科学辑刊 on the appointment and subsequent careers of exam degree holders and the overall composition of officialdom between 1900 and 1912, that is at the end of the Qing, and before and after the abolition of the examination system in 1905. By analysis of quarterly CGED-Q data on civil officials between 1900 and 1912 linked to rosters of jinshi 进士 and juren 举人 degree recipients for specific exam years, the paper shows that annual chances of appointment of men who already held degrees actually increased after 1905, presumably because they were no longer competing with newly-minted exam degree holders. The number of serving officials who held exam degrees remained stable after the abolition of the exams and their turnover rates remained unchained. The share of central government officials who were exam degree holders declined mainly because there was an expansion in the total number of officials, driven by officials who held other kinds of degrees. Increases in the numbers and share of officials who held purchased degrees were especially notable. The main takeaway is that the abolition of the examination system had little apparent effect on those who already had degrees. They continued to be appointed at roughly the same rate, and those who had appointments had roughly the same level of turnover as before. This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is image-2-733x1024.png Campbell wrote the first draft of the paper in Chinese in summer 2018. Yuying Shen, Ting Wang and especially Bijia Chen then edited the text substantially. Here’s the Chinese abstract: 围绕清末科举停废及新政时期官员任命和晋升政策调整这一历史背景,采用新的微观大数据的分析方法,力图为观察清末新政前后清政府文官系统的变化提供新的视角。对1900年以来十余年间清代文官数据的分析,呈现出新政前后文官在人数、组成比例等方面的动态趋势。首先,根据官员出身,分析进士、举人及贡生等群体在整体文官系统中的比例及随时间变化的趋势。新政时期进士出身的官员群体未见受政策调整的影响,京师与地方进士官员的人数、官职分布均相对稳定,不同科年进士的任职机会大体相近。其次,虽然举人与贡生在地方官员中所占人数未变,且不同科年举人的就职机会亦未出现明显变化,但其在京师却显示巨大的变化。随着1907年后京师官员人数的增长,京师举人与贡生官员人数有相当明显的增长,且官职分布也有变化,如小京官所占比例有显著增加。最后,监生与捐纳贡生呈现出与进士和举人不同的另一种模式。1907年后监生与捐纳贡生人数增长了,但是分布的变化与举人和贡生的变化不同。 Rough English translation: With the abolition of the examination system and the reform of appointment and promotion of officials during the New Government period as a backdrop, this paper offers a new perspective on the changes in Qing government officialdom before and after the New Government period. Analysis of data on officials in the 12 years after 1900 reveals trends and patterns in the number, composition, and other characteristics of officials. First, according to an analysis of the qualifications of officials, it analyzes time trends in the shares of officials who were jinshi, juren, gongsheng or other degree holders. During the New Government period, jinshi officials were not affected by the adjustment of policies: the numbers of officials with jinshi degrees was remained stable, as did the distribution of positions they held, and the chances of appointment for jinshi from different sittings of the exam were stable. Second, even though the share of local officials who were juren and gongsheng did not change, and there was little change in the chances of appointment for holders of juren degrees, there was a large change in the capital. After the numbers of officials serving in the capital began to increase in 1907, there was an increase in the numbers of juren and gongsheng serving there, and there was a change in the types of positions they held, so that for example there was an increase in the share of of ‘minor capital officials’. Finally, jiansheng and purchased gongsheng had very different trends from jinshi and juren. The numbers of jiansheng and gongsheng increased after 1907, but changes in their distribution were different. Reference: 康文林 (Cameron Campbell). 2020. 清末科举停废对士人文官群体的影响——基于微观大数据的宏观新视角 (The Influence of the Abolition of the Examinations at the End of the Qing on the Holders of Exam Degrees).社会科学辑刊 (Social Science Journal) 2020:4(249):156–166. LINK  

English language paper introducing the CGED-Q published in the Journal of Chinese History

Our paper providing an introduction in English to the China Government Employee Dataset-Qing (CGED-Q) is now available at the Journal of Chinese History. The paper is lead-authored by Bijia Chen and is based on the second chapter of her PhD dissertation, which she defended in 2019. The paper will appear in the July 2020 issue.

Here is the abstract:

We introduce the China Government Employee Database—Qing (CGED-Q), a new resource for the quantitative study of Qing officialdom. The CGED-Q details the backgrounds, characteristics and careers of Qing officials who served between 1760 and 1912, with nearly complete coverage of officials serving after 1830. We draw information on careers from the Roster of Government Personnel (jinshenlu), which in each quarterly edition listed approximately 12,500 regular civil offices and their holders in the central government and the provinces. Information about backgrounds and characteristics comes from such linked sources as lists of exam degree holders. In some years, information on military officials is also available. As of February 2020, the CGED-Q comprises 3,817,219 records, of which 3,354,897 are civil offices and the remainder are military. In this article we review the progress and prospects of the project, introduce the sources, transcription procedures, and constructed variables, and provide examples of results to showcase its potential.

Bijia Chen is now a postdoc at  the Renmin University Institute of Qing History.

For more information about the CGED-Q, please see the CGED-Q project page.


Page 2 – Footnote 1 – line 10 – Zhenan should be Zhinan

Page 3- second line in paragraph after heading ‘Origin, current status, and future plans…’, ‘ongoing of study’ should be ‘ongoing study’

Page 3 – Footnote 6 – line 2 – Lishi Yanjiu should be Qingshi Yanjiu

Page 8 – Footnote 22 – line 1 – Jizhi should be Jiazhi

Page 8 – Footnote 26 – line 1 – Jijie should be Ji


Bijia Chen publishes comment on jinshenlu 縉紳錄 as a source

At the end of 2019, Bijia Chen published an extensive note in the Qing History Journal (清史研究) on the importance of the jinshenlu 縉紳錄 as a source of information on the Qing Civil Service, providing clarification and explanation in response to some possibly misleading points made in a 2018 清史研究 article. The full reference for and link to Bijia’s article are below.

陈必佳 (Bijia Chen). 2019. 再论《缙绅录》记载的准确性及其史料价值 (Re-visiting the Accuracy and the Robustness of the Jinshenlu as an Historical Source), 清史研究  (The Qing History Journal), 2019 (4) 129-133.


Lee-Campbell Group celebrates Xiao Xing’s retirement and contributions


James Lee and Xiao Xing

On December 13, 2019, the Lee-Campbell Group held a dinner in Beijing in honor of Xiao Xing, who retired in 2018 after working with us for 20 years.

Xiao Xing was the first coder we engaged in mainland China in 1998 after we decided to move our data entry there. She helped enter material for many of our databases, including but not limited to the CMGPD-LN, CMGPD-SC and more recently the CGED-Q. She also helped with the training of new coders. Her feedback also played a role in the specification of protocols for data entry.

James Lee, Cameron Campbell, Bijia Chen and our coders in Beijing.

It has been a tremendous pleasure to work with Xiao Xing for two decades. We are grateful for all of her contributions and wish her the best in her retirement.