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ECPO joins together several important digital collections of the early Chinese press. It is distinguished from other existing databases of Chinese periodicals in that it not only provides image scans, but also preserves materials often excluded in reprint, microfilm or digital (even fulltext) editions, such as advertising inserts and illustrations. In addition, it aims at incorporating metadata in both English and Chinese, including keywords and biographical information on editors, authors and individuals represented in illustrations and advertisements in the journals. By framing the journals with this body of metadata, ECPO enables researchers to establish interconnections between, for example, given individuals, topics or illustrations, and to chart their relationships within particular issues of periodicals, over the entire run of a particular periodical, and across different periodicals. Using ECPO, the researcher will be able to nuance, challenge, and potentially refute existing narratives of history and cultural change.

The ECPO database combines what we call “extensive” and “intensive” approaches to China’s early periodicals.

The extensive comprises a comprehensive catalog and record of Republican-era art and literary periodicals, including such basic data as title, editor, publisher, location and dates of publication, periodicity, format, prominent contributors, etc.

The intensive approach involves archiving digital cover-to-cover copies of entire runs of periodicals, analyzing their complete contents, and tagging them with structured meta-data.

So far, six journals (four women’s journals and two entertainment periodicals) have been included in the database using the intensive approach, including the four in-depth analysed magazines in the WoMag database. In the extensive section of the database, we have so far been able to work on a selection of some 150 journals in addition to those contained in the Xiaobao database.

We will continue to upgrade the database’s keyword metadata by mapping them -as far as possible- to established structured thesauri such as Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus and its Chinese version, AAT Taiwan in cooperation with the ASDC. This mapping in turn opens up the possibility of linking ECPO directly to other digital collections.

ECPO is an Open Access resource developed by independent programmers and the Heidelberg Research Architecture (HRA). All bibliographic descriptions can be accessed through the ECPO API in MODS XML format. This allows broad sharing and exchange of the project’s research results in the future.

We are continuously working on improving our agent records. ECPO comprises more than 50.000 different names of persons, groups, or institutions. These names are recorded as they occur in the original publications. We developed a cross-database agent service which allows us to manage name records, assign them to individual agent records, or split similar names into various angents. We use international authority files, like VIAF or GND, and larger knowledge bases like Wikidata, DBpedia, ors well as the Chinese encyclopedia Baidu Baike, to uniquely identify our agent records and provide users with links to additional information on the respective agent. For an example, see the agent record of Bao Tianxiao 包天笑.

Recently, ECPO started to work with neural networks with a focus on document layout recognition of Republican newspapers and OCRing individual text segments. Our aim is to advance the processing of Republican China newspapers and provide the content as full text. To learn more about our results, please follow our project presentations and have a look at the bibliography. 

For an introduction into features of the database and the recent experiments with the use of neural networks, please have a look at the video Ground Truth, Neural Networks, OCR: Towards Full Text of Republican China Newspapers presented at AAS2021. We have created a short tutorial using the database to help you find your way thruogh the database. In that section we offer lists of the periodicals included in ECPO. We also provide a special section about the technical background. Here you find some information about the systems we use. In addition, you will find information about the API's we currently provide. 

We are always looking for contributors to the database: if you have a related research project or available material that you would like to include within the open access framework of ECPO, please contact us!

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