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User Experiences

It is our hope that this section of the site will assist researchers in sharing information about archival experiences in China.

Scholars who have had experience in Chinese archives all realize that the conditions governing archives use are constantly in a state of flux. The ease and extent of access to Chinese archives vary from place to place, and change over time for any given archive. Some archives are open to all, and require only a letter of introduction from the scholar’s host institution in China. Others require prior approval of access by the provincial or even national archives bureau. Sometimes catalogues are readily available; sometimes one is required to specify one’s research topic and an archivist will decide which records are relevant. Charges for the use of archives also vary. It has recently become the practice to charge for each record called from the archives, whether that record proves useful or not. The rate and negotiability of such charges vary from place to place. Regulations governing photo-copying or microfilm reproduction also vary radically. An increasingly common regulation is the prohibition on reproducing all of a given record – especially if the record is fairly extensive. Sometimes there is a limit on the total number of pages that can be reproduced during a stay at the archives. And of course, the charges for photo-copying vary from archive to archive.

The purpose of this section of the site is to gather information from archives users that can be shared with others, and to encourage the exchange of information among archives users. Scholars with experience in Chinese archives are encouraged to submit a brief report by e-mail to jesherick [at] ucsd [dot] edu. You may also use the form found below. Please specify the archives where you did research, the date of your visit, and summarize your experiences with respect to access, availability of cataloguing, fees, photo-copying regulations and any other matters that might be of interest to other scholars. If you found particularly exciting or previously unknown or unused materials that would be of interest to others, and that might exist at other archives, please let us know. Professor Esherick will review the information, perhaps edit it slightly to ensure suitable and uniform format, and have it put on the site as quickly as possible. Please specify clearly whether or not you would like your identity revealed to others who may wish to contact you, and provide an e-mail address if you so choose. Thank you for your contribution to the site.

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