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In February 1955, Academia Sinica established a preparatory committee for founding the Institute of Modern History and invited Kuo Ting-yee (1904-1975) to serve as its chair. The initial stages of the committee’s work focused on the collection of archival materials, purchase of Chinese and Western books, recruitment and training of research personnel, formulating a research plan and procedures, etc. The Institute was formally established in April 1965, with Kuo Ting-yee serving as its first Director. Since then, the position of Director has been held successively by the following scholars: Liang Ching-chun, Wang Yu-chun, Lu Shih-chiang, Chang Yu-fa, Chen San-ching, Lu Fang-shang, Chen Yung-fa, Huang Ko-wu, Lu Miaw-fen, and Sean Hsiang-lin LEI, the current director.
Through the years, the Institute has advanced two five-year plans, increased the number of research fellows, held academic conferences, and arranged for oral history interviews, while enhancing its facilities with the construction of the library and archives buildings. For more than six decades, the Institute has functioned as a leading international venue for the study of modern Chinese history.
Research conducted at the Institute encompasses transformations in modern Chinese politics, military affairs, foreign policy, society, economics, culture, thought, religion, and other fields, while paying special attention to formations of modernity. Our research fellows not only maintain solid traditions of historical scholarship, but also share deep concern for contemporary society and world affairs.
In order to effectively promote research on the important issues mentioned above, the Institute's researchers have taken the initiative to organize eight research groups that are distinct but also interact closely with each other: 1) Women and Gender History; 2) History of Knowledge; 3) Hu Shih; 4) Chinese Urban History; 5) Chiang Kai-shek; 6) East Asia Regional Studies; 7) Western Learning and China; 8) State and Society. These research groups help bring together colleagues with similar interests inside and outside of the Institute to jointly collect data for undertaking long-term and in-depth research on key topics in modern history, thereby highlighting major breakthroughs in the Institute’s scholarship and earning the respect of the international scholarly community.
Since its inception, the Institute has published 103 monographs, 42 conference volumes, 20 volumes of source materials, 56 collections of historical materials, 104 oral history interviews, and 10 diaries of prominent persons. In addition, the Institute currently publishes three journals: the Bulletin of the Institute of Modern History Academia Sinica; Research on Women in Modern Chinese History; and Oral History. In recent years, the Institute has devoted significant resources towards the digitization of documents and established numerous databases, many of which are searchable through internet browsing functions. The Institute’s most significant research results include studies of the late Qing Self-strengthening Movement, a monograph series on regional modernization in China, as well as works on the history of China’s foreign relations, cultural history, women’s and gender history, and Chinese urban history, among other topics.
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