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?


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.

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 It's a rich source of materials, published and unpublished, related to, among others, the Anti-Rightists, Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution campaigns.

Our library at Cal Poly Pomona acquired it in the form of a set of CDs, but it might be available in online database form for a higher price. Yongyi works in the Cal State U.-LA library and you can find his email there:

You would of course want to acquire many of the official documentary compilations such as Mao Zedong's PRC era writings (《建国以来毛泽东文稿》), but you may also want to collect the many annual chronicles (年谱) of both officials and other figures which are usually based on archives.

In the last twenty years or so, oral history books have appeared in large numbers. In my field of the history of science and technology, there are two main series, each with dozens of volumes already: The Oral History of Science in 20th Century China Series (二十世纪中国科学口述史), edited mainly by Fan Hongye (樊宏业)and published by Hunan Education Press 湖南教育出版社; The Series from the Project to Document the Academic Growth of Senior Scientists (老科学家学术成长资料收集工程), sponsored by the China Association of Science and Technology (中国科学技术协会), chiefly organized by the historian of science Zhang Li (张藜),and published by several presses.

Hope that this helps.


Zuoyue Wang
Professor of History, Cal Poly Pomona

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. With access to their unit’s archive and with the help of a few young assistants, these men and women often did very fine work. At the time, foreign research libraries like the UC Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies one under the stewardship of Annie Chang and the Fairbank Center Library at Harvard managed by Nancy Hearst were the first to notice and systematically locate and acquire copies of as many of these (typically multi-volume) collections as they could find. Many can still be purchased second-hand in China from secondhand book dealers like those on the Kongfuzi network. Here I just want to recommend two specific collections as being, in my view, particularly valuable and because of their scope/size suitable for libraries.

On financial policy after 1949 there is the 8-volume《中华人民共和国财政史料》published by the 中国财政经济出版社 between 1982 and 1989. These are thick volumes (500 pages on average) covering everything from FYPs to infrastructure construction. Neatly complementing them for specific sectors of economic policy (e.g. agricultural taxation) are even more massive multi-volume collections like the《新中国农业税史料丛编》put out by the same publisher in cooperation with other (provincial) publishing houses. Coverage of the 丛编 is broad, and to give but a few examples, vol. 5 contains 中央和大区的农业税政策法规 from 1950 to 1983, vol. 20 reprints similar documents from Shandong province and vol. 28 (well over 1100 pages!) ones from Yunnan. There is even a volume for the Tibetan autonomous region!

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).