In 1958, Sinologist Hope Wright published a work entitled An Alphabetical List of Geographical Names in Sung China. Originally published in Paris by the Centre de Recherches Historiques of the École Pratique des Hautes Études, and reprinted as a second-generation photocopy in 1992 by the Journal of Song-Yuan Studies, the Alphabetical List is now out of print.


Wright’s compilation is the most comprehensive print source for Song geography in any language. The Digital Gazetteer of Song Dynasty China (DGSD) is a MySQL database derived primarily from the Alphabetical List.


The Alphabetical List is an index to every jurisdiction in the Song (960-1276) spatial administrative hierarchy named in one or more of the following three Song texts: the Song History (宋史Song shi) Geography Monograph, the 980 Records of the Universal Realm in the Taiping Era (太平寰宇紀Taiping huanyu ji), and the 1085 Treatise on the Nine Territories in the Yuanfeng Reign (元豐九域志Yuanfeng jiuyu zhi).


The Alphabetical List consists of 3,828 headwords, including all Rank One circuits (lu), Rank Two prefectures (fu, zhou, jun, and jian), Rank Three counties (xian) , and Rank Four towns (zhen and cheng), markets (chang) and stockades (zhai) that existed at any time during the Song dynasty, along with centers of state industry (mines, foundries, and commodity markets) located in prefectures, and information about the number of cantons (xiang) in each county, the resident (zhu) and guest (ke) population of each prefecture in 980 and 1085, the civil rank of each prefecture and county, the designation of counties that served as prefecture seats, the military-ceremonial designation, if any, of each prefecture, the latitude-longitude coordinate of each prefecture, and the distance of each county from the seat of its parent prefecture.

Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern - Ruth Mostern

Ruth Mostern’s “Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern”, available from Harvard University Press in 2011

We initially developed the DGSD to support Ruth Mostern’s book Dividing the Realm in Order to Govern: The Spatial Organization of the Song State (Harvard Asia Center, March 2011). The book demonstrates how the Song court repeatedly reorganized the structure of counties and prefectures in order to distribute civil and military officials around the empire in accordance with changing priorities. Therefore, the DGSD is designed to identify the events that transformed the political landscape, and to make the histories of often fluid places as accessible as the names of the jurisdictions.




The development of the DGSD was supported in part by the Society for Song-Yuan Studies, the UC Merced Graduate and Research Council, and the UC Merced Center for Research in the Humanities and Arts.

The Digital Gazetteer of the Song Dynasty is hosted and supported by the UC Merced Library.

The DGSD is freely available for personal and educational use according to the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike License.