The romanization systems used are the Wade-Giles (with the omission of some diacritical marks) for Chinese and the Hepburn (with the omission of some macrons) for Japanese. The major exception to this rule is Chinese place names for large cities, which are given according to the Chinese Post Office system. In the case of Kwangtung province, Cantonese spellings often have been indicated: Nanhai (Namhoi). For place names in Manchuria and in the case of Peking, we generally have followed contemporary usage. In such outlying areas as Sinkiang, Mongolia, and Tibet, any given place might have several names. For convenience, we have standardized the place names in all outlying areas according to the dictates of common sense.

Chinese personal names are given in the Chinese order, that is with the surname first. In general, the articles are arranged alphabetically by the Wade-Giles romanization of the subject's surname and given personal name (ming). However, the biographies of Chiang Kai-shek 蔣介石, Eugene Ch'en 陳友仁, H. H. K'ung 孔祥熙, T. V., Soong 宋子文, Sun Yat-sen 孫中山, and a few others appear under the name most familiar to Western readers. The courtesy, literary, Western, alternate, and common pen names of subjects of biographies are listed at the beginning of each article (see abbreviations) . The reader should note that the ming 名 and the tzu 字 (courtesy name) frequently are confused in modern Chinese sources.


Dates are given according to the Western calendar, converted in many cases from the Chinese calendar. The word sui 歲 often is used in referring to age. In China, a person is regarded as being one year old at birth and two years old at the beginning of the next Chinese calendar year. Thus, a person's age by Western calculation will be less than his sui. We have retained the sui form in many articles because of the difficulties of conversion and frequently the lack of precise information about month and day of birth.


From 1911 to 1949 the values of Chinese monetary units varied so greatly that it is impossible to assign them standard values in Western terms. Until 1933 the official unit of value was the Customs tael (Hai-kuan liang 海關兩) Other monies, such as silver dollars (yuan 圓) also were current. In 1933 the silver dollar (yuan 圓) became the standard legal tender of China. In 1935, by law a managed paper currency (fapi 法幣) replaced the silver. A gold dollar unit (yuan 圓) was briefly introduced in 1948, but the Chinese monetary system remained unstable until after the establishment of the Central People's Government at Peking in October 1949.

Standard units of land measurement used in this work are li and mu.

1 li = 1/3 mile

1 mu (or mou) = 733 sq. yards

6.6 mu = 1 acre


We have used Western military terms to describe the organization of Chinese armies.


chün 軍 = armyying營 = battalion
shih 師 = divisionLien 連 = company
lü 旅 = brigadep'ai 排= platoon
t'uan 團 = regiment 


The administrative divisions in ascending order of each province at the end of the Ch'ing 清 period were:

hsien 縣 = districts or counties
chou 州 = departments
fu 府 = prefectures
tao 道 = circuits composed of 2 or more fu

We have used the terms military governor and civil governor in referring to provincial rulers of the 1912-28 period. At the beginning of the republican period the Chinese title for the military governor of a province was tutuh 都督. The official designation was changed to chiangchün 將軍 in 1914 and to tuchün 督軍 in 1916. Beginning about 1925, the title was changed in some areas to tupan 督辦, a designation which implied that the governor's primary responsibilities were demilitarization and social rehabilitation.

We have used the term governor in referring to the top-ranking officer of a provincial government after 1928, rather than the more literal rendering of the Chinese (sheng cheng-fu 省政府, chu-hsi 主席) as chairman.

The term tao-t'ai 道台 refers to the official in charge of a circuit. A number of the men who held this office during the Ch'ing period were important in foreign relations because often the tao-t'ai was the highest Chinese official available for negotiations with foreigners.

Mention should be made of the likin 厘金, an inland tax on the transit of goods which was introduced by the imperial government at the time of the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64). Likin stations soon proliferated throughout China. The tax revenues were beyond Peking's control and often were used to finance regional armies. The likin tax on local trade was not suppressed officially until 1933.


In the Ch'ing period, the official class was defined by statute and its composition was determined by the results of examinations in literary and classical subjects. Although the examination system was abolished in 1905, a brief discussion of it is necessary because many prominent people in the republican period were members of this class by achievement or purchase and because the examinations and degrees have no Western equivalents.

Preliminary examinations were conducted on three successive levels: the hsien 縣; the fu 府; and the sheng 省, which was conducted at the prefectural capital. Successful candidates received the sheng-yuan degree, which entitled them to assume the dress of the scholar and exempted them from forced labor. However, they had no legal right to or opportunity for official appointment. They were subject to sui-k'ao 歲考 examinations given regularly in the prefectural capitals under provincial supervision. Success in the sui-k'ao meant that they received a small stipend annually to further their studies. Roughly, equivalent to the sheng-yuan 生員 degree was the chien-sheng 監生degree, which, however, could be purchased. Accordingly, holders of the chien-sheng degree were not subject to periodic examination. Holders of the chien-sheng and the sheng-yuan degrees who were neither commoners nor officials comprised a large and changing group.

Those who wished to qualify for official status took the provincial examinations, composed of a preliminary examination, or k'o-k'ao 科考, and a hsiang-shih 鄉試, or provincial examination. Successful candidates received the degree of chü-jen 舉人, which made the holder eligible for office. The kung-sheng 貢生degree was roughly equivalent to the chü-jen, but was acquired by appointment, by examination, or by purchase.

The examinations for the highest degree, the chin-shih, which brought appointment to the middle levels of the imperial bureaucracy were held at Peking. They were composed of the hui-shih 會試, or metropolitan examination; the tien-shih 殿試 or palace examination; and the ch'ao-k'ao 朝考, an examination in the presence of the emperor which led to specific appointment. Chin-shih 進 who ranked near the top of their group usually were appointed to the Hanlin Academy 翰林院, where their duties included drawing up government documents and compiling materials for official histories. Service at the Hanlin Academy frequently afforded access to the highest positions in the imperial government.

Candidates who passed the examinations in the same year were linked in the t'ung-nien 同年 (same year) relationship, a bond somewhat similar to that linking, for example, members of the Class of 1928 at Harvard College.


The final date for inclusion of information about the subjects of biographies in Volume I was July 1966.


The final volume of this work will contain a comprehensive bibliography. It will list the published writings, if any, of the subject of each article and the sources, both personal and written, used in preparing the article. A brief bibliography of basic sources for twentieth-century Chinese biography is to be found at the end of each volume.

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