The Institute of History and Philology (IHP) of Academia Sinica, Taipei , Taiwan is one of the most accomplished research institutions in the international Chinese studies community. It boasts an accomplished faculty, a library with rare and recent collections of Chinese history that has few rivals in the world, enormous digital collections of Chinese historical texts and images, an outstanding museum of Chinese history and an exhibition room of Taiwanese archaeology.
IHP is one of the few institutions that still embraces the idea of a grand historical science, focusing not only on conventional historical research, but also on archaeology, philology, and fieldwork. The Institute's English name, “The Institute of History and Philology,” reflects this idea, emphasizing the study of languages as the foundation of historical work -- a notion predominant in Europe when the Institute was established. The founding faculty of the Institute, a significant number of whom had received their training in Europe , realized this ideal in the establishment of the Institute. At the outset, the Institute had three departments: history, linguistics, and archaeology; a fourth, the department of anthropology, was added soon afterwards.
Long hailed as a leading institution in almost all fields in Chinese studies, the Institute has recently undergone significant changes. In 1997, the Department of Linguistics became an independent institute. The Institute has retained its original title, as philological research is still conducted at the institute. Recently, IHP research has begun to expand into the field of western history, thus formally engaging in the study of areas outside China .
Fu Ssu-nien, IHP's founding director, was a tireless administrator and a model educator in the liberal arts. He pioneered a new school of Chinese history that stressed scientific investigation over speculation. IHP, inaugurated in 1928, was Academia Sinica's first institute. It was initially housed on the campus of Sun Yat-sen University in Canton ; it moved to Peking in 1929 and then on to Nan-ching in 1934, joining the other institutes within Academia Sinica already established there. Chen Yin-chüeh, Chao Yüan-jen, and Li Chi were the first to head the departments of history, linguistics, and archaeology respectively, and each in turn rose to unrivalled prominence in his own field soon afterwards. The Institute added the fourth department of anthropology in 1934, with the aim of exploring contemporary social and cultural history through fieldwork. By the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, IHP had won worldwide acclaim for its scholarly accomplishments. The archaeological excavation of Yin-hsü (the Ruins of the Shang capital Yin) in An-yang, He-nan province, patently marked the beginning of a new era in the study of Chinese antiquity. This discovery uncovered material evidence to substantiate a history that was once thought to be mere legend -- a momentous achievement in world archaeology.
IHP settled at its current location in Nan-kang, Taipei in 1954. It was the only institute within Academia Sinica fortunate enough to relocate safely to Taiwan , to where the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai-shek retreated in 1949. In 1949-50, Fu supervised the most difficult part of IHP's relocation, while serving as President of National Taiwan University (NTU), then the only university on the island. He is remembered as a heroic university president, who defended NTU interests even up until the moment of his abrupt death in 1950. Yet Fu directed IHP from its inauguration to the end of his life. IHP brought with it the greater part of its library, archival, and archaeological collections and roughly half of its faculty members. It gradually redeveloped during the post-war years, and once more regained its commanding status in Chinese studies. A fifth department developed out of the Oracle Bone Inscriptions Studies Program, founded in 1958; it became the Philology Department in 1990. The Department of Linguistics recently branched off as the Institute of Linguistics . The researchers succeeding Fu as Director of IHP are listed below in chronological order: Tung Tso-pin, Li Chi, Ch'ü Wan-li, Kao Ch'ü-hsun, Ting Pang-hsin, Kuan Tung-kuei, Tu Cheng-sheng, Huang Kuan-chung, Wang Fan-sen.
The Institute now consists of four departments: history, archaeology, anthropology, and philology. Purely ethnological studies have been given over to the later founded Institute of Ethnology , thus the department of anthropology has turned the focus of its research to social and cultural history. In addition, the Institute also includes the Fu Ssu-nien Library, the Museum of the Institute of History and Philology, and the Taiwanese Archaeological Exhibition Room, as well as five research offices -- the Ming-Ch'ing Archives, Oracle Bone Inscriptions, Bronze Inscriptions, Geographical Information Systems, and An-yang Materials. There are also two laboratories -- the Archaeometry Laboratory and the Bones and Physical Anthropology Laboratory.
With a view to integrating faculty research interests and continuing to reflect emerging trends in historical studies, eight specialized research programs have been organized: Cultural and Intellectual History, Legal History, Ritual and Religion, The History of Life and Healing, The Archaeology of Taiwan and Southeast Asia, World History, Artifacts and Images, and Ancient Chinese Civilization. Various research groups also encourage collaborative faculty work on selected topics.
The Fu Ssu-nien Library
The IHP Library has world-renowned collections in Chinese studies. It was named after the Institute's founding director Fu Ssu-nien under the advisement of Hu Shih, then the President of Academia Sinica, in commemoration of his invaluable contributions. Library holdings include publications in the fields of history, philology, archaeology, paleography and anthropology, and comprise a collection of international importance in Chinese studies. In 2005, the Library held 220,000 Chinese rare books (over 50,000 so-called “fine copies,” i.e. exceptionally rare and fine works, and 170,000 traditional Chinese stitch-bound books) , a valuable collection of manuscripts, and 12,000 titles of folk literature, including novels, dramas, Chinese librettos, and texts for variety shows and popular storytelling often accompanied by musical performances, that date from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. The collection also boasts 40,000 ink rubbings, a particular type of reproduction prevalent in China in the pre-photography age that produces a copy of the inscriptions on the stone or metallic surfaces of steles, tablets, walls, bronze vessels or even jewels. In addition, the collection includes, as of 2005, over 50,000 publications in Western languages; a great number in modern Chinese, Japanese or Korean (50,000 volumes published in the People's Republic of China ); and 3,900 periodical titles. Opening hours are from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday to Friday.
The Museum of the Institute of History and Philology
IHP's Museum exhibits its substantial collections in archaeology, Chinese imperial archives, and ethnology, as well as sections of rare books and manuscripts of the Fu Ssu-nien library. The Museum was first established in 1986 with the aim of creating a space to present the Institute's rich scholarly resources to the public. Its archaeological collection alone comprises over 140,000 artifacts. The Museum reopened in 2002 after its gallery spaces were remodeled in a fresh and modern design. Through exhibition and all manners of organized activities, the Museum has become a window for exchange between the Institute and the general public.
The Museum defines itself as an “academic museum” by consciously highlighting the scholarly significance of exhibited artifacts; it thereby distinguishes itself from many museums of fine arts that emphasize aesthetic beauty. The ground floor galleries display materials unearthed in archaeological excavations that date from the pre-historical era through the Shang Dynasty to the Warring States period (ca. 26 th - to 5 th -centuries BCE). The upper level is divided into six galleries: “Han Dynasty Wooden Slips from Edson-gol” (ca. 100 BCE – 100 CE), “Rare Texts,” “The Archives of the Grand Secretariat of the Ch'ing Dynasty,” “Ethnological Collection of Southwestern China,” “Ink Rubbings,” and “Taiwanese Historical Materials”. The faculty and staff of the Institute not only plan out every facet of the exhibitions, they also arrange guided tours and organize public lectures. The Museum is open to visitors from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, Wednesdays and Saturdays. For information about lectures and other activities, please refer to the IHP website.
The Taiwanese Archaeological Exhibition Room
The Taiwanese Archaeological Exhibition Room displays the contributions of IHP faculty members to the field of Taiwanese archaeology. After the relocation of the Institute to Taiwan , the Archaeology Department continued to organize and to analyze archaeological data collected from the Mainland. The Chuo-Ta ( ?? ) Project, underway since the early 1970s, brought together historians, social scientists, and archeologists to study the area between the Chuo-shui River and the Ta-tu River in Taiwan. This research initiated the collection of Taiwanese archaeological specimens. Since 1980, the Department has worked actively to develop archaeological fieldwork and excavations in Taiwan and Penghu . Over the past 20 years, the Institute has accumulated a richly diverse repository of archaeological artifacts and research findings and has established the Taiwan Archaeological Exhibition Room to promote the educational value of the artifacts with displays and guided tours.
Digitalization of IHP Special Collections
IHP has developed one of the largest collections of digital resources available in Chinese and Taiwanese Studies. Digitalization work began in 1985 with the “Historical Documents Digitalization Project.” The scope of IHP digitalization later expanded to include the creation of a full-text database of Chinese documents called Scripta Sinica , which has attracted the attention of the international community in Chinese studies. The Institute joined the National Science Council's “National Digital Archives Program” in 2001, using the allocated funding to digitalize materials in five areas: rare books, archaeological artifacts, ink rubbings and ancient scripts, ethnological data, and the archives of the Ch'ing Grand Secretariat. Some of these resources are already available online, accessible via the Institute website.
IHP's accomplishments have become known mainly through its publications. The Institute has its own publishing unit. The Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology has been the most prestigious Chinese-language journal in Chinese studies for decades. The late Denis Twitchett of Princeton University headed the editorial board for IHP's English-language journal, Asia Major . Disquisitions on the Past and Present , published in Chinese, is intended to disseminate historical knowledge to a broader audience. In addition, the Institute also publishes special topic monographs, archaeological reports, collections of historical documents, and a variety of article collections, totaling roughly one thousand volumes. The first generation of IHP faculty published many groundbreaking academic works in Chinese history in the Institute's monograph series during the early twentieth century. Thus this body of publications comprises an important collection in Chinese studies. In addition, the faculty can (and often do) publish their works through other academic and popular publishers, both domestically and abroad.