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A Plea for Large-Scale Reproduction of Ch'ing Sources. However much the new China/ will change in future, the Ch'ing period represents the last phase of China's ancien regime and will ever serve as a datum plane for historians and social scientists. It does not seem too risky to speculate that the variety and amount of Ch'ing sources exceed those of the sources of all previous dynasties combined. For many reasons which cannot be explained here only a few leading sinologlcal libraries in the Western world took the opportunity of pre-Pearl Harbor years to acquire a systematic Ch'ing collection. Long after the end of World War II when the advancement in Ch'ing (mainly post-1840) studies in major American universities had belatedly aroused an awareness of the richness and importance of Ch'ing sources, the opportunities for a systematic library build-up in the Ch'ing field were lost once and forever. As is wall known, the post-1949 Chinese government has almost totally banned the exportation of wood-block editions of Chinese works. Consequently, whenever a useful Ch'ing work is offered on the markets oí Hongkong and Japan the price is often prohibitive. Por example, ? year ago three editions (two Ch'ing and one Republican of Nan-faai hsien-chlh (History of Ean-hai county , part of modern. Canton) were priced at more than US #700, averaging more than jftO a pen, or roughly #50 a volume. It is obvious therefore that the only way for Western libraries in general to build up a systematic Ch»ing collection economically is for them to participate in an international pro.ect of large-scale reproduction of Ch'ing works. It is impossible for me to describe even briefly here this range and variety of Ch'ing sources. Based on my partial knowledge of Ch'ing soirees and of the state of Ch'ing collections in a -10number of American libraries, I shall confine myself to a very t brief discussion of two major categories of Ch'ing sources which are vital to any fundamental substantive research on Ch'ing institutions , society, and economy. The Ch'ing period is unique in having compiled and printed five editions of statutes and administrative precedents on a national scale. The 1690 and 1732 editions are entitled Ta-Ch'in^ hui-tien, the 1764 edition Ta-Ch' ing hui-tlen tse-ii, and the 1818 and 1899 editions Ta-Ch' ing hui-tien shih-li. Only two American libraries have all five editions, and most libraries with a Chinese collection have only the last edition. In addition, there is a vast body of statutes and precedents of the six administrative boards and of various courts and bureaus. The editions of these more specifi statutes and precedents that I have sampled far exceed the number of titles listed in a special bibliography on Ch'ing administration, namely Ma Peng-ch' en'sj§ $.$£ Ch'ing-tai hsing-cheng chih-tu yenchlu ts'an-k'ao sftu^mu i| fi ft &.%$£ *KÌL f % f- S · Because these works are dispersed among the few leading sinological libraries in the United States, researchers have to work at each of these libraries to locate statutes and precedents not included in the* five editions of the Ta-Ch' mg hui-tlen. To select the more comprehensive editions of these works for reproduction is an urgent task. The second and by far the bulkiest body of Ch'ing sources is local histories. The importance of these as sources of information on topography, local administration, taxes and labor services, education, agriculture, crops, crafts and local products, changing social customs, and types of biographies and lists of office and degree holders unavailable in works compiled at a more general or national level, scarcely needs any explanation. Of the latest total of 7 »618 editions of Chinese local histories known to be extant in the world, those compiled during the Ch'ing period alone account for as many as 5,615. In addition the 1,081 editions compiled during the republican period invariably contain information on late Ch'ing. and the 867 Wing editions are equally vital to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3257
Print ISSN
0884-3236
Pages
pp. 9-11
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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