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歷代進士 Jinshi degree through the ages

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I'm in the process of compiling a list of Jinshi who appear in 《清代硃卷集成》. That's some 80 names per volume, for 400 volumes.

The degree originated in 605 CE (Sui Dynasty), and has evolved to be the sole stepping stone to high officialdom by the time of the Ming and the Qing. The Ming and Qing Jinshi are well documented; while the earlier ones are largely incomplete. In many cases, the only definitive year known about a Tang figure is the year he obtained his Jinshi degree.


The highest level of the Civil Service Examinations took place every three years --- with additional ones on special occasions --- in Beijing, and the best scholars, numbered in the hundreds, were granted by imperial order the degree of 進士 (jinshi, or chin-shih, rendered Metropolitan graduates or presented scholars in English). Many of them went on to further achievements in the civil service, and were instrumental in making much of China's history.

Whenever possible, the 履歷 (Curricula Vitae) should be uploaded or linked.

Add to Schools

Each Geni profile has built-in entries for schools (which show up in the Timeline), and the Chinese civil service examinations were the closest to a modern-day degree from a university. We should enter these as events under School, for at least the Provincial exams and Metropolitan exams. The "school name" should be, 順天鄉試 or 會試 殿試, with the "class year" in the description. The "degree" is either 舉人 for Provincial graduate, or one of the following formal titles for Metropolitan degree:

  • 第一甲賜進士及第 summa cum laude (only 3 individuals, 狀元 optimus, 榜眼 secundus, and 探花 tertius)
  • 第二甲賜進士出身 magna cum laude
  • 第三甲賜同進士出身 cum laude

(The association with Latin honor is merely suggestive. The Jinshi graduates were selected from the whole China only once every 2 or 3 years, making it perhaps more selective than a Ph.D. degree from top universities today.)

The description should also include his ranking for each examination, and his appointment if known. Dates shall be entered as from and to the same year (no months or dates). Location is, of course, the actual location, i.e. the provincial capital or 京師 for Beijing.

If he was appointed a Hanlin bachelor 翰林院庶吉士, there needs to be a separate entry under School: 翰林院庶常館 for three years in Beijing. In the description it shall be detailed his appointment after the study (e.g. 散館授編修, a compiler); such information can be found in 《詞林輯略》.

Hopefully Geni will implement a page for each graduating class from a school, which serves very well as the "project page" for Metropolitan graduates from that year. In fact, having graduated the same year was regarded as an important social networking among the literati-official elite.