The China Biographical Database is a freely accessible relational database with biographical information about approximately 521,442 individuals as of August 2022, 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 which ceded its ownership.
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.




Who is using CBDB? How to use CBDB?

Cluster Map

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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. )

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