The China Biographical Database is a freely accessible relational database with biographical information about approximately 422,600 individuals as of September 2018, 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.


(Sep. 2018) CBDB standalone database is updated, with a much easier installation process. Download it here!

(April 2018) Read our latest blog here!

(Sep. 2016) Watch video tutorials on how to use CBDB on our Youtube channel.

New Release
UPDATED CBDB database as of August 31, 2018 - for download and information about this release please visit 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.

Accessing CBDB 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