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More Plain Words: On Toxins, Diaries and Safe Houses as Data

Back in 1994, I read a wonderful book (to which Tim Cheek had drawn my attention), an anthology edited by Robin W. Winks entitled The Historian as Detective: Essays on Evidence (Harper Torchbooks, 1968). I realize that the judicious study of evidence has since come to be seen as rather ”old school” or ”retro” and that facts no longer carry quite the same weight as does, for example, faith. But anyway, I was reminded of Winks and his book when I stumbled across the following explanation, in a Chinese document from 1950, of what the term 材料 may refer to:

Re: Published source collections

Searching by following words, such as "重要文件汇编"/"重要文件选编"/"重要文献选编" or just "文件汇编"/"文件选编"/"文献选编", at National Digital Library of China, you will see many relevant results.

I'd like to recommend five selections for you to purchase : 《当代山西重要文献选編(1949-1966)》,《中国共产党黑龙江省委员会重要文件汇编(1949-1966)》,《中国共产党在广西档案选编(1950-1965)》,《中共武汉市委文件选编(1949-1966)》,《中共贵阳市历史文献选编》(1949-1978).

Re: Published source collections

I have found many “published collections of PRC documents” appearing in China over the years to be comprehensive, well edited, and useful. The high tide for producing such collections relating to the history of the state (as distinct from the CCP) seems now to have passed. What I know happened in the 1980s and 1990s is that older cadres who would/could not be retired and may have been with the same organization since, say, its creation in 1949 or the early 1950s were moved sideways within their respective work units and invited to head up documentation projects.

Re: Published source collections

Hi, Covell:

I would suggest that you and your library look into the possibility of acquiring the Database on Contemporary Chinese Political Campaigns edited by Song Yongyi 宋永毅 and others and published by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. It's a rich source of materials, published and unpublished, related to, among others, the Anti-Rightists, Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution campaigns.

Re: Published source collections

For grassroots materials: 中国当代民间史料集刊, edited by 华东师范大学中国当代史研究中心.

For central and provincial documents on the economy: 中华人民共和国经济档案资料选编, with vols on planning, revenue, trade, industry, agriculture, etc.

For important political decisions: 中共中央文件选集.

Re: Published source collections

The semi-recent 50 volume set of Central Committee documents (pre-Cultural Revolution) comes to mind: 中央档案馆 and 中共中央文献研究室, ed., 《中共中央文件选集, 1949年10月-1966年5月》, 50 vols. (Beijing: Renmin chubanshe, 2013).

A number of municipalities and provinces also have similar types of document collections. Beijing, for instance: 《北京市重要文献选编》, covering 1948-1965.

I often use collections and neibu/books published under the 《中共重要历史文献资料汇编》 series by the 中文出版物服务中心 in Los Angeles. However, I know nothing about this organization--does anyone have any insights?


New Issue of The PRC History Review, Vol. 2, No. 2 (April 2017)

We are very pleased to announce that the latest issue of The PRC History Review is now available.  This issue contains the third article in our Research Paper Series -- Joseph W. Esherick, "The CCP in the 1930s: The View from Defectors' Declarations ((脱离共党宣言)."
Please visit to read the new issue:



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