The Chinese Engineers Relational Database (Pelzer et al., 2021) has recently reached its milestone of encompassing all 15,000+ biographies of engineers collected by the Chinese government between 1936 and 1941. The database is part of a research project on engineers in pre-war China (1906–1937), operating within the Leipzig Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199 on “Processes of Spatialization.” The idea of the database is to provide a pool of digitised and cross-referenced data that researchers can then analyse to answer their own specific research questions. For the Leipzig project, these questions concern the ways in which engineers operated under, but also shaped, formats and visions of space.
As the name of the database suggests, our aim has been to gather information about every Chinese individual who worked as a professional engineer in the first half of the last century. Where available, their biographic data may include time and place of birth, educational institution, major, degree, and year of graduation, and time and place of each work commitment. The database can act as a simple encyclopaedia to conduct research on over 15,000 persons. However, the database also provides insight into the rise and fall of popular universities, the scope of important infrastructural projects, and the organizational structure of historical companies. As each location is georeferenced, we can also map academic mobility and workplace migration on different regional scales.
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