Exploring Republican China in the USC Digital Library: An Experimental Metadata Analysis


We identified 645 unique personal names (excluding the names of donors) from the Republican China collections in the USC Digital Library. Nearly 90% of the names come from the Pedro Loureiro Collection. The top ten names are all U.S. naval and intelligence officers who served in or had close ties to East Asia, including Harry E. Yarnell (1875-1959) [Bio], Ronald A. Boone (1896-1945) [Bio], William D. Puleston (1881-1968) [Bio], Arthur H. McCollum (1898-1976) [Bio], Hayne Ellis (1877-1961) [Bio], and others. We attempted to visualize all of the names represented in the digital collections using a static treemap, as shown below. 

The personal names include 89 known Chinese names, most of whom were once statesmen and politicians, warlords, bankers and financiers, government officials, military leaders and officers, and other political figures active in the Republican era. The top five names are Chiang Kai-Shek 蔣介石 (1887-1975) [Bio], Zhang Xueliang 張學良 (1901-2001) [Bio], Wang Jingwei 汪精衛 (1883-1944) [Bio], T. V. (Tzu-wen) Soong 宋子文 (1894-1971) [Bio], and H. H. (Hsiang-hsi) Kung 孔祥熙 (1880-1967) [Bio].

We experimented with a stacked bar chart in Tableau Public to trace the historical eras in which these names appear in the digital collections. As shown in the chart, they are primarily associated with the Nanjing Decade (1927-1937) and the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Eleven of these names are tied to both eras, including Chiang Kai-Shek, Wang Jingwei, T. V. (Tzu-wen) Soong, and H. H. (Hsiang-hsi) Kung, to name a few. When you hover over or click on a segment of the stacked bar in the chart, a pop-up window appears, displaying the Chinese name, the historical period in which it occurred, and the total number of related items in the digital collections. You can see more names in the chart by dragging the bottom bar. The chart can also be filtered by selecting a time period from the legend in the upper right corner.

We also created an interactive treemapping visualization of all the Chinese names in Tableau Public. When you hover over or click on a block in the chart, a pop-up window appears with the Chinese name, a link to the relevant items in the digital collections, and the number of occurrences. ** To view a list of related items for a Chinese name in the digital collections, you can first choose the name block, then select and highlight the link in the pop-up window, and finally right click your mouse to either copy and paste the link into a new window or go to the link. (** It is recommended that you use Google Chrome for this functionality.)