China Biographical Database Project (CBDB)
The China Biographical Database is a freely accessible relational database with biographical information about approximately 491,000 individuals as of May 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.