Since 2013, the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG) has been conducting research on Chinese local gazetteers by transforming printed materials into a scholarly, enhanced database for new forms of digital historical analysis. Central to this effort is the development of the Local Gazetteers Research Tools (LoGaRT). LoGaRT is a suite of digital tools developed to transform texts in Chinese local gazetteers into structured data, to systematically explore and annotate images and illustrations, to perform historical and literary analyses at different scales, and to visualize research results. These digital features enable scholars to ask new research questions at a scale that were difficult to address previously. Thus, scholarly reception of LoGaRT has been overwhelmingly positive.
MPIWG has always wished to promote open-access within the Chinese studies community. However, the lack of an open-access database of Chinese local gazetteers’ full-texts of comparable quantity and quality to those provided by private vendors meant that, due to licensing restrictions, LoGaRT could only be used on-site at MPIWG up until now. To make LoGaRT useable for the widest community possible, MPIWG partnered with Harvard-Yenching Library to produce an open-access set of rare Chinese local gazetteers, digitized as scanned images and searchable full texts, that was released in March 2019. An ‘open LoGaRT’ incorporating this set and free to use for any scholars was released in June 2020.
At our proposed workshop, we will (1) introduce LoGaRT and the research program on Chinese local gazetteers at MPIWG; (2) explain a common digital workflow and the philosophy behind a digital, scaled methodology for generating structured historical datasets for research; and (3) provide a low-stress space for a hands-on exploration of LoGaRT and its features. Specifically, participants will get a chance to conduct both text- and image-focused research on local gazetteers (including robust geovisualization functions) within LoGaRT. By the end of the workshop, the participants will have gained an understanding of the philosophy and methodology behind LoGaRT and a foundation for further exploration of LoGaRT after they depart AAS. No advanced technical expertise of equipment is required; Google Chrome is sufficient.