Modern China

China is both the oldest and the newest of the great powers. It's hard to imagine, given China's stature in the world today, but People's Republic of China was born in 1949; the country that recently staged the most spectacular Olympics ever is only 60 years old. An ancient dynasty, a modern democracy, and a charismatic Communist have all led China for some portion of the twentieth century. You might start by finding an entry in a good print encyclopedia or by reading a short, general book on China. This will give you an overview of the subject and help you to refine your search. 

Check out the starting your research project page before you begin! Possible topics in modern Chinese history include:
the Boxer Rebellion, the collapse of the Qing dynasty
Dr. Sun Yatsen and the Nationalist period
the Long March, the growth of the Communist Party
the Great Leap Forward
the Cultural Revolution

We can't fit every resource about modern China on to this list! A topic guide is just the beginning of building your bibliography.

Reference materials

This is the place to start any research project. Reference resources offer short, authoritative information on every topic. Reference books must be used in the library. Most contain bibliographies of important books on your topic. A good first stop would be any of the standard print encyclopedias in the Beaver collection: Encyclopedia Americana, World Book or Britannica.


Bingham, Jame, ed. (2001). The Usborne Internet-linked encyclopedia of world history. REF 901 B51 2001
DeFronzo, James. (2006). Revolutionary movements in world history. REF 303.64 REV A 3 volume set. Look under "Chinese Revolution" in Volume 1.
Gall, Timothy, ed. (2004). Worldmark encyclopedia of the nations: Asia and Oceania. REF 910.3 W89 v. 4
Herb, G. and Kaplan, D. ( 2008). Nations and nationalism: a global historical overview. REF 320.54 NAT 4 volume set with olive-green spines. Volume 2, pages 787-795 for overview and current bibliography.
Xiao-bin, Ji. (2003). Facts about China. REF 951 F11 2003


Britannica Online Great for pre-search and primary sources, including speeches, essays, biographies, court decisions, editorials and photos.
Gale Virtual Reference Library
General Reference Center Gold
Routledge Reference Resources


Books about China and its history will be found at 951. Biographies can be found at 921, listed alphabetically by the subject's last name; for example, a biography of Mao Zedong would carry the call number: 921 Mao. Even though "Mao" comes first, it is a surname.

Fairbank, John King. (1986). The great Chinese revolution, 1800-1985. 951 F15 396 pages.
Green, Robert. (1999). China. 951 G82 1999 127 pages.
Lawson, Don. (1983). The Long March : Red China under Chairman Mao. 951.04 L44 181 pages.
Schoppa, R. Keith. (2004). Twentieth century China : a history in documents. 951.05 Sch8 2004 222 pages.


For these Gale Group Resources, try the following subject terms: Chinese History, 1912-1949; Long March, 1934-1935; Chinese Civil War, 1945-1949; Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945; Deng Xiaoping. You can modify the subject terms to fit your particular interest.
Academic OneFile
Biography in Context For information on famous people associated with 20th century China. Search by the person's last name.
Expanded Academic ASAP
General OneFile
World History In Context
SIRS Copy this subject heading: China, History, Revolutions (1911-1949) Paste it into the search field. You can modify the subject terms to fit your particular interest.

Internet Sites

China in the 20th century Maintained by the history department at Kings College, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
Exploring Chinese history Maintained by Dr, Richard Wertz, an amateur with a strong interest in Chinese history.
Internet East Asian History Sourcebook Primary sources on modern China. Scroll down to "China's Disaster: 1840-1949".

BPL resources

Credo Reference
PAIS International


*Brainy Quote. (2008). Mao Ze Dong quotes. Retrieved 11-11-08 from

Updated, 4/11