The China Biographical Database is a freely accessible relational database with biographical information about approximately 515,488 individuals as of December 2021, 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:
- Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University (費正清中國研究中心)
- Institute of History and Philology of Academia Sinica (中研院歷史語言研究所)
- Center for Research on Ancient Chinese History at Peking University (北京大學中國古代史研究中心)
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.