The China Biographical Database is a freely accessible relational database with biographical information about approximately 360,000 individuals as of April 2015, primarily from the 7th through 19th centuries. With both online and offline versions, the data is meant to be useful for statistical, social network, and spatial analysis as well as serving as a kind of biographical reference. The image below shows the spatial distribution of a cross dynastic subset of 190,000 people in CBDB by basic affiliations (籍貫).

The long term goal of CBDB is systematically to include all significant biographical material from China’s historical record and to make the contents available free of charge, without restriction, for academic use. That data is regularly being enriched and new biographical entries are being created for Tang, Five Dynasties, Liao, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming and Qing figures.

CBDB originates with the work of Robert M. Hartwell (1932–1996). Professor Hartwell bequeathed his estate, including the first version of this database, to the Harvard-Yenching Institute.
The development of CBDB is now a joint project of:

For more details, please see General Introduction to CBDB 201404

Visualization of CBDB Data

Changes in locations of Ming civil service high degree holders (Ming Jinshi) 

This is an animation created by the Project Manager of CHGIS, Merrick Lex Berman, and his team. It shows the changes in locations of Ming civil service high degree holders (Ming Jinshi) throughout the dynasty based on CBDB data.


(Feb. 2016) Report on "Computational Methods for Chinese History: A 'Digging into Data Challenge' Training Workshop" on October 17, 2015 in AAS ASIAN STUDIES CONFERENCE REPORTS. See here for details.

(Feb. 2016) Talk in Shenyang
CBDB Postdoctoral fellow Lik Hang Tsui is giving a talk on the CBDB project at Liaoning University, Shenyang on March 1, 2016. See here for details.

(Jan. 2016) New Approaches in Chinese Digital Humanities: CBDB & Digging into Data Workshop
We are organizing a workshop in Beijing to introduce the newest developments in CBDB and encourage collaboration between digital humanities projects focusing on China. The workshop is jointly organized with Peking University and Tsinghua University on Jan. 8-10, 2016. Over 35 presenters and 70 participants are attending.

(Dec. 2015) Tang Research Foundation CBDB Project
We are pleased to announce that the Tang Research Foundation is supporting a project for a comprehensive prosopographical investigation of the Tang period based on excavated epitaphs (墓誌), official documents, and private writings from January 2015. We have just completed the first-year goals of this project.

(Apr. 2015) CBDB Featured in Historical Research Article
CBDB is featured in an article in Historical Research 历史研究, the top history journal in China. LIANG Chen, DONG Hao, and James LEE introduces CBDB as an open access resource (《量化数据库与历史研究》,《历史研究》2015年2期).


New Release
UPDATED CBDB database as of April 2015. For download and information about this release please go to this page.

Signing up for the CBDB mailing list

CBDB Sign-up Form : Click the link and fill in your information if you would like to receive email about new releases for CBDB. The link will possibly be opened in a new browser tab/window.(Note: If you can't access the Sign-up Form, please contact Hongsu Wang at hongsuwang [at] fas.harvard.edu. )

Error Report Form: We now also have a form for you to report errors! If you find any errors or bugs, please click on the form above.

Quick Links

Accessing CBDB data online: 


Use "GUEST" to log in. No password required. Use Internet Explorer (IE) for stability.This will allow you to see how data is entered, view the codes, and review information on any person in the database. --you will not be able to save changes or delete data -- use the buttons and links on the page. If you use the enter key or the forward and back buttons on your browser you may be logged off, in which case simply log on again.


Or, download the standalone version:

Please go to the Download page: Click the "Download" link above the page, and then select "Download CBDB Standalone Database". You will find more information there.

Cluster Map

Locations of visitors to this page