China Professional Occupation Datasets (CPOD)

In 2016, because of our interest in better understanding the development of professional education and employment in China, we decided to create the China Professional Occupation Datasets (CPOD) for five professional occupations – accountants, engineers, health professionals, legal professionals, and university faculty and staff – during the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

We have already located data for some 85,000 such professionals, largely from the Republic of China, and have entered information for 50,000, many of whose student records are in the CUSD-ROC and CUSD-OS, and who may also have records in the CGED-ROC.



The beginnings of modern professional education in China predate the dissolution of the civil service examination system in 1905 with the introduction of such training by foreign often Missionary organizations as well as by some Qing government entities.

In the absence of such professional qualifying examinations as Law and Medical boards typical elsewhere, university education during the Republican period continued therefore to focus more on professional training and skills than broad education and learning. This was especially true in such professionally related schools as business, education, engineering, health and law where a degree was a prerequisite for official certification in these professions.

CPOD Data Series

CPOD includes five discrete datasets: the China Certified Accountant Dataset or CPOD-CA; the China Engineering Professional Dataset or CPOD-EP; the China Legal Professional Dataset or CPOD-LP; the China Health Professional Dataset or CPOD-HP; and the China University Employee Dataset or CPOD-UE. In every case, when appropriate, we also distinguish between the Republic of China and Peoples Republic of China.

The CPOD-CA currently includes 2,021 records of 2008 unique certified accountants who registered with the Republic of China Ministry of Economic Affairs, 490 of whom are also in the CUSD-ROC. These ROC Ministry of Economic Affair Archives data are preserved in the Academia Sinica Institute of Modern History Archives in Taipei and available online. Variables include name, age, place of origin, prior education and employment qualifications, certificate of approval, and qualification date.

The CPOD-EP currently includes data on 20,967 engineers in the Republic of China, 4358 of whom are also in the CUSD-ROC. Most of the CED-ROC data are from Who’s Who of Chinese Engineers published in 1941, based on a survey by the ROC National Resources Commission supplemented by published lists of members of the China Institute of Engineers and the Chinese Society of Power Engineering, 1919-1948. Common variables include name, place of origin, education qualification, employment history, and correspondence address and phone number.

The CPOD-LP currently includes just 1,350 lawyers based on various Law Association Membership Lists from Beijing and Shanghai during the Republic of China, but will hopefully grow to include more localities. Primary sources for the CLPD-ROC are a list of members of the Beijing Law Association from 1912 to 1931 summarized in Michael Ng 2014, and a list of members of the Shanghai Law Association in 1935 from The Modern and Contemporary Persons Integrated Information System constructed by Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica. Common variables include year, name, place of origin, and university education.

The CPOD-HP currently includes over 10,000 Western medical doctors in the Republic of China. The primary source of the CHPD-ROC is from the Chinese Medical Directory published by the Chinese Medical Association in 1940. Common variables include name, place of origin, sex, office address, residence address, telephone number, education qualifications, employment history and publications.

As for the CPOD-UE-ROC, we have already entered data for 5,340 university professorial faculty surveyed by the Ministry of Education in 1941 and 1944, 1,229 of whom can be traced to their CUSD-ROC records. While the MOE also did a similar survey in 1947 of another 2000 plus professorial and teaching faculty, we are only able to locate part of the data for these individuals at the Second Historical Archives of China. In addition, the Zhejiang University Archives has completed data entry for 10,000-15,000 university employees from the Zhejiang University Archives which they have agreed to share with us. Common variables include name, sex, age, place of origin, discipline, concentration, academic position, prior tertiary and post tertiary education, employment history, and current employer.

We have also begun to compile the CPOD-UE-PRC which currently includes over 5,500 individual records of university employees in People’s Republic of China. This sub-dataset is expanding and will eventually include over 15,000 records of university employees from 1949 on. Primary source of the CUED-PRC is from the CVs and registration forms of university employees in the period of the Reorganization of the Higher Education System in China (yuanxi tiaozheng). Other sources include various lists of university employees reported to Higher Education Education Bureau in the 1950s and 1960s gained from Beijing and Shanghai Municipal Archives. Common variables include name, sex, age, place of origin, family origin, health status, ethnicity, religion, political studies, teaching experience, publications education qualification, courses taught, skills, foreign language ability, family background and biographic information of family members.

Project History

The idea of creating a China Professional Occupation Database (CPOD) dates back to 2016 when Bamboo explored various individual records related to the above datasets from microfilms of Liaoning Provincial Archives located at FamilySearch (Genealogical Society of Utah). James Z. Lee realized the potential of these archival records and prioritized to compile the CUED-PRC in 2017, collaborating with Bamboo Ren and Wenhao Jiang. In 2018, Bamboo Ren located two volumes of faculty lists in 1941 and 1944 created by the Ministry of Education from the published books and complied the CUED-ROC, with the help of Zixin Zhang, Yuying Shen and Haoyuan Li. In 2019, Yibei Wu and Li Yang further expanded the CUED-ROC by adding faculty records in 1947 and 1948 from the Second Historical Archives. In the meantime, James Z. Lee subsequently obtained permission and collaborated with Zhejiang University Archives to enter all ZJU employees records in the Republican period and the early People’s Republic period.

In preparation for the CUED construction, James Z. Lee encouraged Bamboo Ren to explore and collect individual data for other professionals in the twentieth century. With the help of many coders, the CCAD-ROC was compiled in 2017, the CED-ROC and the CMDD-ROC were complete in 2019.

Project Funding

Data entry for the CPOD has been supported by General Research Fund of the Hong Kong Research Grants Council Project Number 16602117 James Z. Lee PI (Co-I Cameron Campbell, Liang Chen), The Social and Spatial Origins of China’s Educated Elite: 1865-2014 and by intramural funds from HKUST.

Data Access

Construction of the datasets are ongoing.