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Sources: Reference Works

May 6, 2010

Nunn, Godfrey Raymond. Asia, reference works: a select annotated guide. London: Mansell, 1980.

A solid introduction to reference works for South, Southeast, and East Asia. Predominately Western language sources. Organized by subject and type of material listed (dictionaries, catalogs, bibliographies e.g.). Contains author and title indexes, as well as a CJK title index.

Wilkinson, Endymion. Chinese History: A Manual. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Asia Center, 1998.

This new and much enlarged (1068 pp.) edition of Wilkinson’s research guide is an indispensable manual for anyone doing research on the imperial era of China’s history. Starting in the pre-Qin period, the guide is particularly useful for the classical sources and earlier dynasties. The early part of the manual covers all of the basics in impressive and reliable detail: language, dictionaries, geography, time, statistics, encyclopedias, and tools for locating primary and secondary sources. Part II treats Pre-Qin sources; Part III covers historical genres, from standard histories to government institutions, to warfare and uprisings; Part IV covers literary and other primary sources, including biji, myth and religion, popular literature, medicine, women’s studies and non-Han peoples; and Part IV introduces primary sources by period. There is an index of names, book titles and a subject index.

Wilkinson, Endymion Porter. The history of imperial China; a research guide/ Harvard East Asian monographs 49. Cambridge, Mass.,: East Asian Research Center Harvard University; distributed by Harvard University Press, 1973.

This edition was published in 1973 and has now be superceded by a new edition that just appeared (above) The structure is very similar to Nathan (below), but the coverage is limited to imperial (and pre-imperial) China from oracle bones through the Qing. The practical approach is evident in section titles: How to Find Out What Sources Are Available from a Given Period; Where to Find Primary Sources; How to Convert Dates, etc. The guide is most useful for introducing and explaining the compilation, organization, contents, and uses of primary sources from the imperial period. Brief subject and author indexes.

Cole, James H., and Endymion Porter Wilkinson. Updating Wilkinson : an annotated bibliography of reference works on imperial China published since 1973. New York, N.Y.: J.H. Cole, 1991.

Now essentially replaced by the new edition of Wilkinson.

Zurndorfer, Harriet Thelma. China bibliography: a research guide to reference works about China past and present, Handbuch der Orientalistik. Vierte Abteilung, China 10. Bd. Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1995.

A complete and up-to-date research guide to Chinese studies. Though it covers the entire history of “China Past and Present,” it is most useful for the late imperial period. The 55 page Introduction provides a very useful history of Western Sinology, especially its European roots. Each section includes a substantial introductory essay and then an annotated bibliography of key sources. The Bibliographies section alone covers 44 pages. The other sections cover Journals and Newspapers; Biography; Geography; Dictionaries; Encyclopedias, Yearbooks and Statistics; Collectanea (Congshu); Indexes and Concordances; the Calendar; and Translations. Includes a full and useful index.

Nathan, Andrew J. Modern China, 1840-1972 : an introduction to sources and research aids. Michigan papers in Chinese studies; no. 14. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies, 1973.

A dated but still useful research guide that covers the major research aids available in 1973. Brief annotations are provided on bibliographies, chronologies, geographic and biographic sources, newspapers, periodicals, yearbooks, documentary collections and guides to Japanese, English, and Russian language sources, including missionary sources. The introductions to major research collections in North America, Europe and Japan provide a useful overview for those areas; though Chinese libraries and archives were opened after this guide was published, and they are not covered at all. Full and useful index.

Franke, Wolfgang. An introduction to the sources of Ming history. Kuala Lumpur,: University of Malaya Press distributed by Oxford University Press London, 1968.

A guide to primary sources. Provides an introduction to types of sources encountered in Ming studies. Organized by type of writing (e.g. “works in the annalistic pattern,” collections of memorials).

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