Chinese Engineers Relational Database (CERD)

Thorben Pelzer (SFB 1199), Elisabeth Kaske (SFB 1199 & Leipzig U) & Hailian Chen (Leipzig U), eds.

Publication Date

August 2021








Thorben Pelzer, Elisabeth Kaske & Hailian Chen

Additional Information


The CERD database is a register of engineers from the Chinese Republican period (1912–1949). The digital analysis of historical registers has led to a prosopographic catalogue of persons, educational institutions, and companies. The data can be put in relation to one another by researchers to answer individual research questions. This paper describes the architecture of the database, explains how it works, and presents ways of analysing the data.

Biographical Note

Thorben Pelzer (SFB 1199)

Since September 2017, Thorben Pelzer holds the position of university lecturer for Society and Culture of Modern China at Leipzig University. He graduated in Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and East Asia Studies at Ruhr-University Bochum. Further, he studied at Osaka University, at Tongji University in Shanghai, and at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei. He is an alumni of the German Merit Foundation. As a social and cultural historian of the Republican period, he currently researches Chinese engineers who studied in the USA.

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Kaske (SFB 1199 & Leipzig University)

Elisabeth Kaske has joined Leipzig University as professor of modern Chinese society and culture in April 2017, after studying and teaching in Berlin, Beijing, Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Boston, Vienna, Pittsburgh, Taipei, and Princeton. As a historian of late Qing and early Republican China she is interested in China’s rugged path towards modernization. Her studies include the history of German-Chinese military exchange and technology transfer, the emergence of new concepts of language and education, the sale of rank and public office by the late imperial state, and the fiscal regime of the Qing dynasty. After having long focused on bureaucratic elites, she has recently become fascinated with how new professional elites, particularly engineers, imagined the nation and their own role in it.

Dr. Hailian Chen (Leipzig University)

Hailian Chen is an engineer-sinologist trained at the Universities of Tsinghua and Tübingen. She is the author of “Zinc for Coin and Brass: Bureaucrats, Merchants, Artisans, and Mining Laborers in Qing China, ca. 1680s–1830s” (Leiden: Brill, 2019. 788 pp), and several peer-reviewed articles on the history of zinc and coal in early modern China. She is currently working as the principal investigator on her second book project “The Pioneers of China’s Rise to Technological Power: Technical Educational Institutions and Their Students in the Age of Global Transformation, 1860–1911” (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research) that examines the role of technical education in the making of modern China. Before joining the faculty at Leipzig in 2019, she taught at the University of Trier and has worked as a research fellow in a DFG-Project “Monies, Markets and Finance in China and East Asia, 1600-1900” at Tübingen University as well as in the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz.