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Manuscripts and Packets from the Historiography Institute
Anonymous, Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911)
(Lower right) 24.5 x 22 cm; (lower left) 27 x 17.5 cm

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In 1690, under the K'ang-hsi Emperor, the Historiography Institute was established at court as part of the Hanlin Academy with the responsibility of compiling materials for writing official histories. In 1914, not long after the establishment of the Republic of China, the Cabinet approved the establishment of a Ch'ing Historiography Institute on the premises of the former Institute. Archives from all over the former Ch’ing dynasty court were collected, and many later became part of the collection of the Palace Museum. The National Palace Museum archives from the Historiography Institute include manuscripts and final drafts of many documents from the Historiography Institute of the Ch'ing dynasty and the Ch'ing Historiography Institute of the early Republican period. Among them, the official records of reigns and biographies in the Historiography Institute appear in both Chinese and Manchu. The contents of the Historiography Institute packets, in addition to delivering the manuscripts, also preserve many notes transcribed and recorded for the official record at the time. The information is not only abundant, but also very dependable. Officials in the Institute, after choosing and comparing material from both private and official sources, composed a list in chronological sequence to form a biography or record. The original materials and the final draft were sealed together, thus preserving many precious records for posterity. The edited histories from the Ch'ing Historiography Institute and the early Republican Institute help scholars to understand the development of historiography in the Ch'ing and early Republic. The records of historical figures reveal important aspects of society at the time.
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