The roots of this study extend back to 1985, when I was admitted to study for the M. Phil. degree in the Department of Chinese of the University of Hong Kong and subsequently for the Ph.D. in the Department of History of that University. The latter degree was conferred in 1994. During those years of study, a large number of persons provided assistance and encouragement in diverse ways. Obvious thanks are due to my two supervisors, Norman G. Owen and Adam Lui (呂元聰). It was they who facilitated my entry into the Department of History and they who looked after me and provided the very necessary encouragement during what proved to be a lengthy process of dissertation writing. The successive heads of the HKU History Department during that period -- Yen Ching-hwang (顏清湟), Adam Lui and Tom Stanley -- all provided assistance in various respects and, in particular, supported my interminable applications for extensions of candidature.
Numerous other persons also assisted in various other ways during the doctoral studies, by answering my endless queries, supplying materials, suggesting sources and being generally helpful. My thanks to: Irene Bain, Jean Berlie, Chan Hok-lam (陳學霖), Stephen Chang Tseng-hsin (張增信), Charnvit Kasetsiri, Chen Jian-ming (陳建明), Dhiravat na Pombejra, Sam Ding (丁光復), E. Edwards McKinnon, Jan English-Lueck, Wolfgang Franke, Richard Irving, Mabel Lee (陳順研), Li Fu-yi (李拂一), Liu Yao-han (劉堯漢), Mei Li-chong (梅立崇), John Miksic, Momoki Shiro (桃木至朗), Roderich Ptak, Qian Jiang (錢江), the late William Henry Scott, Keith Taylor, Michael Vickery, Xing Yu-lin (刑玉林), Jeannie Yuen (阮慧娟), Bob and Lorna Wade, Wang Gungwu (王庚武), and Oliver Wolters.
Very special gratitude is due to two persons, without whose assistance I would likely have been early ground to dust by the rigours of translation and interpretation. From the first days of the study, Poon Ching-han (潘靜嫻) provided great assistance and much advice in terms of Classical Chinese and Chinese nuance generally. Her willingness to patiently explain textual difficulties to an often obstinate student was a major element in my gaining a basic understanding of the patterns and vocabulary of Classical Chinese.
In handling more specific problems of Ming systems, ideologies and bureaucratese, I was fortunate to have been able to call on the help of Professor F.W. Mote. Emboldened by not being rebuffed after abruptly approaching him by letter, I exploited his kindness continually and unashamedly. Despite an obviously very full agenda, he continued to make time available to address all the problems I put to him. Giving freely of his great knowledge of Ming history and sources, he spent very many hours examining textual problems I submitted for his comments and advice. I learned much through his guidance. It was only in the month prior to this data-base being mounted on the web that the sad news of the passing of Fritz (as he called himself and as he was known to many others), was received. The dedication of the data-base to his memory is but a small token of esteem.
In the decade which has passed since the dissertation and translations were completed, I have been fortunate to have had a number of colleagues – including James Chin, Radin Fernando, Gijs Koster, Roderich Ptak, Anthony Reid, Wang Gungwu and Jim Warren-- who infrequently but continually badgered me about making the translations more widely available.
It was only in 2003, with the offer of a research position in the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, that a project of reformatting and presenting these Ming Shi-lu translations to a broader audience became feasible. ARI Director Anthony Reid has been more than supportive of this endeavour and greatly facilitated the project’s progress, both intellectually and financially. Other ARI staff members have been helpful well beyond the call of duty. Much of the additional inputting has been carried out swiftly and efficiently by Jiang Yang (江洋) and Jiang Na (姜 娜). On the NUS Publishing side, the arcane and abstruse world of data-base technologies has been in the capable hands of Peter Schoppert, with the assistance of Paul Kratoska and Winnie Wong. They have regularly turned the impossible into the feasible. On the home front, three ladies known as Siew Imm, Zara and Nikki have been equally ardent supporters and victims of Wade’s obscure projects. I owe them!
The kindness shown by all the persons mentioned has, in itself, made this project worthwhile. To all who have contributed to it over the last two decades –both named and unnamed-- my heartfelt gratitude. May the final product be considered worthy of your time and efforts.
-- Geoff Wade