This project, MEMORY ROC by Evelyn Ch’ien, will provide a colorful, detailed historical reconstruction of the Republican years in China. The Republican period in China occurred from 1912-1949—between the fall of the Qing Dynasty (1911) and the beginning of Communist Party rule (1949). The revolutionary leaders responsible for the inauguration of the first Chinese republic were well-educated cosmopolitan men and women, most of them in their late twenties or early to mid-thirties. Other participants included a range—from military personnel, hospital personnel, and workers who controlled governmental posts and marine ports, as well as family members living abroad who helped to fund the revolution, both with financial and ideological support. This period was extremely unstable politically so many ideologies were propagated with enthusiasm. After all, the power to take charge of the new political regime for China would be formidable.

The revolution of 1911 managed to signal the end of dynastic rule and the beginning of ideological anarchy that eventually submitted to communism. Today, descendants of the families involved in the revolution of 1911 remember their relatives and their roles in Chinese history. Because these families had the means to survive generations of upheaval, either by being part of the grand diaspora or being taken care of by government individuals with whom they retained relationships. Many of the families went to the same schools, lived in the same neighborhoods, and grew up together. They were often able to pass down their own store of struggles and privileges to the next generations.

The people who offer their voices to this project come are from various walks of life. These descendants narrate a conception of the republic not told in books. They reveal private worlds that made up the public fabric, material upon which a vibrant account of the republic can be created.

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