In Paper Knowledge: Toward a Media History of Documents, Lisa Geitelman asks “what is a document? Bibliographers and other information specialists have persisted in puzzling over this question for at least the last hundred years.” Today on the Internet, there are more than 23 million texts that might provide an answer, given that they contain (or so Google tells me) the phrase “A document is…”. When I checked, I found to my surprise that one relevant internet text that does not is the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency’s Terms & Definitions of Interest. It does not define “document” – merely “document exploitation,” “document and media exploitation,” and “Harmony.” As a historian, my editorial policy here at Document of the Month will be to adopt a similar robust Don’t Ask Don’t Tell-position with respect to “What is a document?” If you see it scanned and commented on here, it’s a document.
Document of the Month is curated by Michael Schoenhals.
Detoxification of the body politic: post-Lin Biao language matters
When physical labor was still on the curriculum
“Pissed and lost for words!” – Doorway couplets from Shanghai (1966)
Do you have many contacts, among the lumberjacks?
He did time for what he did: A CIA translator’s prison release papers
More on Mao badges: Documenting a non-event
Shanghai forty years ago: If you remember “experiencing the Cultural Revolution,” you really weren’t there!
Confucius say… Dictatorship is good thing!
A Harbin postal inspector’s copy of a young midwife’s letter (September 1949)
An affair to remember? Consenting adults in the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park
Bo Diddley was right: you can’t judge a book by the cover!
When the night has come and the land is dark: Will the police stand by Mao’s revolution?
Back to the Future: Categorical Watchlisting in China (1959)
Deceiving Deng: A Potemkin Village in Anhui (1960)
Beijing August 1958 – Hot town, summer in the city!
New in the neighborhood? A 1952 residency transfer form for a ”person of interest”
China historian goes off-message on torture: ”Did anyone here recognize that?”
He raped me! A Nanjing contract worker speaks out (1972).
Aluminum and Mao badges wholesale: four receipts from the Cultural Revolution (1967–68)
“It’s Chairman Mao on the phone!” – The rise and fall of an imposter
Document Authentication 101 – Spot the Forgery!
Earlier, everything was better. The earlier the better. (1963)
Christmas in Nanjing 1970: If you see something, comrades, say something!
“I got me a secret membership card…”: Talkin’ May 16th Paranoid Blues (1972)
Losing Mao: A Shanghai Customs Notice from 1976
Police, Press, and Public Relations: Hu Qiaomu Talks (1955)
A French Diplomat’s Beijing Diary (1965–1967):
Banned in Beijing: A 1950s Index of Politically Incorrect Picture-Story Books
Stealing Other People’s Mail: the KGB in Beijing (1973)
Who’s that Girl: Documenting an event of no particular significance (1968)
Counter-Revolutionary Cacography: Samples from Shanghai (1972)
What Is to Be Done? A Note from the Communist Underground (1961)
When Form Is Content: A 1954 CCP Document about the Design of Documents