The dashboard constitutes the main gateway for a visual exploration that data extracted from the BDRC in visual form. It is made up of three categories of data:

  • Demographics: this section presents the general demographic data on the 589 figures in the BDRC — birth year, birth place, gender, life span — as well as detailed data on the life course of each individual (individual profile).
  • Education: this section proposes three different points of entry: dataset overview, timeline, and major institutions. It is focused mostly on higher education for which the BDRC provides the best information. The dataset overview examines five dimensions of the education the 589 individuals received: age at enrollment in higher education, major educational institutions, degrees, disciplines, and level of education. The timeline lists all the individuals who received a higher education in chronological sequence and the country where they studied. Because several individuals studied more than one discipline or in more than one country, we selected the highest degree they received and the last country where they received their degree. One can click on any country in the list to activate or deactivate this country. One can also select specific disciplines in the scrolling menu at the top of the chart. The distribution of institutions of education by country — secondary and higher education — and their relative prominence is presented in the form of a tree chart with four distinct domains: general secondary education, general higher education, military secondary education, military higher education.
  • Positions: this sections addresses the nature of the career paths of the 589 figures in the BDRC for whom there is information on their careers. The dataset overview provides the distribution of positions by type of institution, actual institutions (top 20), and by individual (top 20). Trajectory is an interactive menu where one can select either all or just one single individual and see his/her career trajectory by type of position.


We implemented a systematic mapping of relations of all the individuals whose name appears in the BDRC. Our goal was to reveal and qualify the relations that existed within the group of historical figures, including both the biographed characters and the individuals mentioned in their biographies. All the networks are based on word occurrences — mention of a named entity — in the text, except for the network built on a set of 36 annotated biographies. Our ultimate goal was to reconstruct the networks of social relations from texts and to provide an alternative, non-linear reading of the BDRC. This section provides a gateway to all the networks we found relevant to produce in the course of our analysis. They are available as interactive networks on the NDEx platform. A search in the "Network name" column will return the networks that contain "BDRC" in their title. A search in the general search window of NDEx (Magnifier icon) will return all the BDRC networks.

Spatializing the BDRC

The BDRC contains a lot of spatial data related to individuals, events, or institutions. We present here only the data related to the places of birth and death of the 589 figures in the dictionary, as well as their place of college education in China and abroad. Each topic includes a set of maps with a different focus. To visualize a map (or several at the same time), just click on the checkbox in the left-hand side vertical menu.

For births and deaths, we built for each a map of the individual locations and a map with the total number of births and deaths in each location. The destiny of most individuals took them to many places in the course of their life and very few died close to where they were born. But in the case of the individuals in the BDRC, there was both a fairly common phenomenon of concentration of deaths in the main Chinese cities, especially Beijing and Shanghai, and a very unusual phenomenon of deaths outside of China. In the former case, this attests to the social, professional, and political success of these historical figures. They completed their career in positions of power or responsibility in central institutions. In the latter case, this points to the process of migration of a segment of the elites after 1949, to Taiwan or to foreign countries (mostly the United States).

The vast majority of the individuals in the BDRC received a post-secondary education in China and/or abroad. More than fifty of them even received a Ph.D. degree. While it is impossible to retrieve any actual and usable information on their primary education, the BDRC provides at least some limited information on secondary education. College education is much more accurately surveyed in the biographies, with details on the places of education, the name of the institutions, the field of study, and the degree(s) obtained.

Mind Maps

Mind maps are one of the privileged tools that we use to design a process or to conceptualize an operation. We propose here some examples of what we produced in the course of working on the BDRC

X-Boorman plan: this mind map presents the transformation process that we designed to go from the printed version of the Biographical Dictionary of Republican China (BDRC) to X-Boorman, the enhanced online version of the BDRC.

BDRC Positions MCA: this set of mind maps was designed by Cécile Armand to prepare the task of multi correspondence analysis (MCA) that we implemented on the positions data in the BDRC. The four maps present the different levels of analysis — distant, close, case studies, politics — the various types of variables that we incorporated in the analysis and how we operated to organize different ways to associate the variables.

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