Are you curious about China and interested in its history, society and culture? Are you from a Chinese background and hoping to read books and magazines in your language? Are you undertaking China-related research and looking for primary sources to support your project? Are you studying Chinese and eager to better understand China’s past and present?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then the National Library’s Chinese language resources will be a wonderful help to you. For those who may not be able to visit the Library in Canberra, the National Library is always open online. 

Our Chinese digital resources include a range of subscribed databases and digitised collections. They offer invaluable sources across a variety of subjects for you to explore.  

Manuscript map of Guangdong: [Chaozhou fu] nla.obj-230559800

Databases

Duxiu 

One of our favourite databases is the Duxiu, a comprehensive bibliographical tool and search engine covering over 3 million Chinese publications from the early 1930s to the present. It allows you to search across full-text books, journals, newspapers, theses and dissertations, conference proceedings and a wide range of other documents. Duxiu is an absolute treasure trove for researchers, academics, students and anyone interested in discovering modern China. 

Periodical databases 

Another very popular primary source in our collection are Chinese periodical databases. We have a good collection of contemporary academic journals and magazines/journals published before 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was established.  

China Academic Journals (CAJ) 

CAJ is probably the best-known resource for anyone researching and studying China. It is the largest database of Chinese journals, containing thousands of journal titles and millions of full-text articles, categorized among 10 series. The Library provide access to three CAJ series: Series G Politics/ Military Affairs/ Law; Series H Education & Social Sciences and Series J Economics & Management

Chinese Electronic Periodical Services (CEPS) 

CEPS, which is also known as Airiti Journals or Zhong wen dian zi qi kan zi liao ku (中文電子期刊資料庫) includes more than 5,600 academic journals and concentrates chiefly on publications from Taiwan. It complements the China Academic Journals and together they provide excellent coverage of academic journals in Chinese language. 

Dacheng Old Periodical Full-text Database 

Dacheng Old Periodical is a collection of over 7,000 Chinese periodicals published from the late Qing Dynasty to 1949. The one hundred years before 1949 is a significant period in the history of China when the country experienced drastic and far-reaching changes from industrial and social revolutions to turbulence and wars. It was during this period when China’s last imperial dynasty, Qing came to an end and its Republic Era began. Many of the titles in this database are rare and unique, providing insight into how China became what it is today. 

Chinese Communist Party History Database (-1949) 

This is a full-text database specifically for journals related to the Chinese Communist Party prior to 1949. It houses about 300 titles and is also called Zhong gong dang shi qi kan shu ju ku (中共党史期刊数据库). Publications in this collection are created or supported by the Chinese Communist Party, covering the period from the founding of the Party in 1921 to 1949. 

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A poster of [Quotation from Chairman Mao]
[Quotation from Chairman Mao] / Mao Tse-tung nla.obj-514715668

Books, newspapers and images

The Library subscribes to a variety of eResources that provide access to Chinese ebooks, such as the CNKI eBooks, newspapers, images, over 10,000 pre-20th century Chinese classical texts and a lot more.

People’s Daily (1946 to the present) 

The Library provides access to several Chinese language newspapers, such as the People’s Daily, the official voice of the government of the People’s Republic of China. It can be accessed through Ren min ri bao tu wen shu ju ku (人民日报图文数据库).  

Digital image collections of Republic of China (1911-1949) 

The Republic overthrew the old imperial Qing monarchy and was founded in the hope to establish a modern state. Historical photographs for the period 1911-1949 are rare first-hand materials that illuminate aspects of life and events of the time. The database consists of 70,000 photographs, mostly from the Republic Era, with a small number of items from the Qing Dynasty. You can search or browse photos, which are divided into 4 categories: People in the Republic of China, Historical events, Lives and customs, Architecture and scenery.  

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Street and market Peking, ca. 1935
Street and market Peking, ca. 1935 in [Set of photos of Peking]nla.obj-152288739

Digitised Collections

Our subscribed databases are available online to anyone with a National Library card. In addition to eResources subscriptions, the Library has been building its online collection by digitisating physical collections. Our digitised resources are freely accessible online through the national discovery service Trove.  

Among the vast array of online resources, there are many gems from the Chinese collection, including old Australian newspapers by Chinese communities, political posters and papercuts from the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-76), old maps and rare books.  

London Missionary Society Collection 

The London Missionary Society’s first missionary in China was Robert Morrison. He established a mission at Guangzhou (Canton) in 1807 and was later joined by many other missionaries. They were active in cities such as Guangzhou, Xiamen, Shanghai, Hankou, Beijing, Ningbo and Tianjin. The collection consists of 722 books, pamphlets, leaflets, manuscripts, newspapers and maps, mostly written in Chinese, with the bulk of the works published between the mid-19th century and the early 20th century. The collection includes Biblical translations, publications on Western medicine, Chinese language, religion, philosophy and sciences and significant works relating to the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64). 

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A page from an ancient Chinese book Yin Dou Lue
Yin dou lue / Qiu xi [1831]: nla.obj-46143424

Pith Paintings

Let’s finish up with some beautiful digitised pith paintings. A number of the Library's collection of pith paintings featured in the 2016 exhibition Celestial Empire: Life in China 1644-1912, and their vivid colours and depiction of a wide variety of scenes caught many visitors' attention

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Watercolor in pith:  A Chinese wedding banquet
[婚宴 = A Chinese wedding banquet]: nla.obj-300139263
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Chinese pith painting: [Selecting tea] from [Album of Chinese watercolours depicting the production of tea and tea trade]
[Selecting tea] - [Album of Chinese watercolours depicting the production of tea and tea trade]nla.obj-343952273
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a pith painting titled Cruise boat
[遊船 = Cruise boat]: nla.obj-359945472

The Library’s end of year donation appeal in 2016 coincided with the Celestial Empire exhibition. The funds donated have been directed to preserving, housing, researching and digitising the paintings and upgrading their catalogue records to make them easier to discover.  

More information on our pith painting collection can be found in the extensive annotated guide

We hope that you enjoy exploring these wonderful resources about China. If you have any research questions about China or our Chinese collection, please contact us through our Ask a Librarian service.