Institute of Taiwan History, Preparatory Office

The Temporary Building of the Preparatory Office

The establishment of the Institute of Taiwan History's Preparatory Office in June 1993 marked the culmination of a long formatory process. In 1986, Professor K.C. Chang and others, intending to encourage research on Taiwan history, brought together scholars from the Institute of History and Philology, Institute of Ethnology, Institute of Modern History, and Sun Yat-Sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy, to plan for the Taiwan History Field Research Project. The Project's initial work centered on collecting historical materials through field work, and received funding from the National Science Council and the Luce Foundation. Academia Sinica's first institutional meeting of 1988 passed a resolution which up-graded the Project's scope and led to the formation of the Taiwan History Field Research Office to oversee field research. In July 1989, funding for the Office was included as part of Academia Sinica's annual budget, resulting in a further strengthening of research efforts.

The Temporary Building of the Preparatory Office

Due to an ever-increasing interest in the study of Taiwan history, and concern about the future of such research on the part of the Taiwanese people, the Legislative Yuan urged Academia Sinica to establish an Institute of Taiwan History as soon as possible. Therefore, on June 30, 1990, during the lst meeting of the 14th Council of Academia Sinica, President Wu Ta-Yu called for the establishment of a "Preparatory Planning Group" composed of Professors Chang Yu-fa, Li Yih-yuan, Ch'en Ch'i-lu, Hsu Cho-yun and Chuang Ying-chang. Professor Chang Yu-fa was named chairman of the Group, which began making plans for the Institute of Taiwan History's establishment. On December 22, 1990, Professor Chang issued a Preliminary Report on the Establishment of the "Institute of Taiwan History," which leaned towards the establishment of a "Research Center for Taiwan History" composed of researchers from the various institutes at Academia Sinica who would cooperate in the study of Taiwan history. However, since Academia Sinica does not include research centers as part of its organizational structure, the Institute of Taiwan History's future remained unresolved. In January 1993, Professor K.C. Chang, who is a member of Academia Sinica, and at that time was in charge of convening the Taiwan History Field Research Office, returned to Taiwan. Knowing that the time was ripe for establishing an Institute of Taiwan History, he convened meetings to discuss this issue. In February 1993, Professor Chang issued a Recommendation to Establish the Institute of Taiwan History. On February 17, 1993, the Office held a combined committee meeting, during which Vice-President Li Ch'ung-tao urged the rapid completion of plans to establish the Institute of Taiwan History, and of short-term, middle-term and long-term development plans for its future. The next day, President Wu Ta-yu and the Secretarial quickly formulated a Plan for the Institute of Taiwan History, which emphasized its role in interacting and cooperating with other institutes at Academia Sinica, and with academic organizations in Taiwan and overseas. On March 4, 1993, the Education Committee of the Legislative Yuan visited Academia Sinica, and expressed its deep concern about the Institute of Taiwan History's establishment. On March 27, the 6th meeting of the 14th Council passed the Plan for the Establishment of the Institute of Taiwan History, making its existence a reality. On June 26, the Presidential Office of R.O.C. approved the Institute's establishment. On July 10, President Wu Ta-yu appointed Professor Huang Fusan of the History Department at National Taiwan University as chairman of the Institute's Preparatory Office, thus marking the final completion of its formulatory process.


Taiwan's geographic location has caused it to change hands many times, resulting in an abundant and diverse historical record. Taiwanese history is generally divided into five periods: prehistoric, Dutch-Spanish colonization, conquest by Koxinga, Ch'ing empire, Japanese Occupation, and post-War (Republic). This makes the study of Taiwan's history difficult, because each period possesses its own unique characteristics and each ruling people represents a different culture, language, and ethnic group. This office will stress the following aspects of development: research techniques, research methodologies, and research topics.


Emphasis will be placed on appropriate division of labor as well as cooperative projects. Many people outside Academia Sinica have eagerly awaited the Institute of Taiwan History's founding, but due to the limited size of research staff, it is presently impossible to research all facets of Taiwanese history. Therefore, the Institute plans to engage in cooperative projects with researchers from other institutes at Academa Sinica and other academic organizations in Taiwan and abroad, in order to coordinate efforts on specific research projects.


The Office plans to emphasize interdisciplinary research, because historical studies encompass a range of academic fields. The Institute of Taiwan History's success will depend on the support of scholars representing a broad scope of research interests who can cooperate in research projects. The Office hopes that such interdisciplinary cooperation will result in the establishment of theoretical models for interpreting Taiwan history which will con-tribute to elevating this field's status worldwide.


Research on different areas of Taiwan history will be undertaken according to pre-established priorities. In February 1993, Academia Sinica passed a Plan for the Institute of Taiwan History, and also formulated short-term, middle-term and long-term development plans for its future. The Office will carry out research according to these guidelines to the best of its ability. However, due to the complex nature of Taiwan history, and to our limited human and material resources, research will be focused on specific topics to ensure success. Our main goal is to investigate Taiwan's commonalities and uniqueness compared with the rest of the world. As its commonalities are well-known, we plan to study what makes Taiwan's history unique. In other words, research will first focus on the origins and formation of Taiwan's unique char-acteristics and their comparison with those of other nations, particularly mainland China and Japan. For example, research will be conducted on Taiwan's commercial activities and their origins. After its uniqueness has been determined, research will be focused on what such commercial activities have in common with those of other countries. This will help to provide theoretical and con-ceptual interpretations of Taiwan history, and may lead us into the field of philosophy of history.

Current research includes: the history of Taiwan's plains aborigines (P'ing-p'u tsu), the settlement of Taiwan (with emphasis on land relations), Taiwan's commercial traditions, and Taiwan family histories. Research will be directed towards the Japanese Occupation and early post-War periods, in order to enhance the dialogue between early and modern historiographies.

We will also undertake basic research in the following areas: collection of historical materials, and computer-ization of source materials and historical documents.



The Institute currently has a staff of 11 full-time researchers, including 2 research fellows, 4 assistant research fellows, and 5 research assistants. In addition, there are also 2 adjunct research fellows.


Reading Room, Library

The library, located on the third floor of Building C of the Institute of Modern History, has expanded rapidly since the Preparatory Office was established. It comprises rooms of reference, microfilms and maps, periodicals, and special collections, as well as an office.


Our collections are confined to books and various sorts of materials related to Taiwan, dated from pre-historic period through the Dutch Rule, the Cheng Rule, the Ching Dynasty, the Japanese Rule, to the nationalist government. Some special collections are also included, such as old periodicals during the Japanese Rule, the Draft of Taiwan History Material, the Records of Taiwan Monasteries and Temples, etc. The collection includes:
Books 8,500
Periodicals over 130 titles
Microfilms 150 rolls
CD-ROM 1 title
aps over 2,900 sheets



Our achievements encompass the following four areas:


This is one of our major long-term research efforts, as it involves ground-breaking work in collecting historical materials. Four types of data are now in the process of being gathered:

Approximately 202 sets of rare data covering over 9,023 items have been collected, including documents and postcards from the Japanese Occupation period.


In order to help scholars search for historical materials on Taiwan History, the office initiated a project entitled ˇ§Computerization of Taiwan Historical Materialsˇ¨ in 1990. The goal was to create a series of Taiwanese documents. The creation of the "Database for all Taiwan Local Gazetteers", the goal of the first phase, has been completed and the database connected to the network. Now the editing, collection and marking of the second and third phase of the project has begun.


The Last Hundred Years of Taiwan Historical Research in Retrospect(December1995)

We organize academic colloquiums and lectures once a month or more, in order that researchers may increase their knowledge and share ideas. We held "Conference on the Study of Family and the Development of Local Areas in Taiwan" on May 25-26, 1995. We also cooperated with the Department of History, National Taiwan University, in organizing the conference entitled "The Last Hundred Years of Taiwan Historical Research in Retrospect" in December 1995.


Conference Room


NameResearch Speciality
Research Fellow and Chairman
Huang, F.S.Taiwan family history, History of Taiwan's settlement
Research Fellow
Ch'en, C.K.Agricultural and settlement history, Socioeconomic history Colonial experience in Japan, Land tenancy systems, Land reform policy
Assistant Research Fellows
Chou, W.Y.Colonial history of Taiwan, History of women in late imperial China
Ts'ai, H.Y.Japanese rule in Taiwan: Local administration, Wartime mobilization and Oral history
Huang, L.S.Towns and cities history Architectural history
Tsai, T.H.History of urban development, Social economic history, Historical research methods
Research Assistants
Hung, L.W.Regional studies, History of Taiwan plains aborigines
Chan, S.C.Ethnic-group relationship, Areas studies
Ang, J.I.Taiwan history in early period, Southeast Asian history
Sung, J.S.Taiwan's civil rituals and cultures
Chang, L.C.Social and cultural history of Taiwan, Ethnohistory of Taiwanese plains aborigines


Chang, K.C.Member of Academia Sinica; Professor, Harvard University
Chen, C.L.Member of Academia Sinica; Professor, National Taiwan University
Li, Y.Y.Member of Academia Sinica; Professor, National Tsing-Hua University
Hsu, C.Y.Member of Academia Sinica; Professor, Pittsburgh
Yang, Y. P.Professor Emeritus, National Taiwan University
Tsao, Y. H.Adjunct Research Fellow, Sun Yat-Sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy
Wang, S.C.Adjunct Research Fellow, Sun Yat-Sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy
Li, K.C.Adjunct Research Fellow, Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica
Professor, National Taiwan Normal University
Kuan, T.K.Research Fellow, Institute of History & Philology
Chen, S.C.Director, Institute of Modern History
Chuang,Y.C.Research Fellow, Institute of Ethnology
Peng, W.H.Research Fellow, Sun Yat-Sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy
Lai, T.H.Research Fellow, Sun Yat-Sen Institute for Social Sciences and Philosophy
Huang, F.SChairman, Institute of Taiwan History, Preparatory Office