Academia Sinica launches online digital archives

Staff Writer, with CNA

Sat, Mar 05, 2011 - Page 2

The nation’s leading research institute recently unveiled a new digital archive with the aim of making academic resources more accessible to the public.

The online database consists of information from the diaries of Tan Yankai (譚延闓), the first chairman of the Nanjing National Government, and includes graphs, photos and an interactive game, Academia Sinica said.

The diaries, which were written by Tan between 1895 and 1930, provide important information about the Qing Dynasty and the early development of the Republic of China, including the daily lives of people during that time, the institute said.

Writing in Chinese calligraphy, Tan recorded facts about the meals that were served in his family, and created character sketches of other well-known figures such as Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石).

The database is the first online archive of its kind and will hopefully encourage public interest in such digital resources, Academia Sinica said.

It also features a game in which users can fill in key words to create their own diaries in classical Chinese.

“It makes history less boring and more accessible,” said Wang Fan-sen (王汎森), vice president of the institute.

Tan, a well-known calligrapher and gourmet in his time, was the grandfather of Chen Lu-an (陳履安), a former president of the Control Yuan.

“My grandfather was keen on learning about new things and would be tickled if he could see this,” Chen said after a member of the production team demonstrated a game that created a n amusing diary on Thursday.

One of the major challenges in transcribing the diaries was the recognition of the cursive style of calligraphy, said Lin Ming-yi, a member of the production team.

It took five years to complete the work of transcribing the 2.5 million characters into a readable form, Lin added.

Tan’s diaries will be published in their entirety in about two years, said Chen Yung-fa (陳永發), director of the project.

The database can be accessed at