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IST 605: The Taiping Rebellion of 1850-64

A guide to library resources on this often overlooked period of Chinese history

Introduction to the Taiping Rebellion of 1850-1864

The mid-19th century saw a worldwide wave of social and economic conflict manifesting in revolution and civil war. In Europe, political struggle climaxed in the continent-wide revolutionary wave of 1848, when the emerging middle-class clashed with the old aristocratic order. In the United States, the Civil War saw the destruction of the southern slave economy by the industrializing north at the cost of nearly one million lives. But the combined death toll of these two social conflicts is dwarfed by the epic Taiping Rebellion in China which saw the demise of 30 million people from war, famine, and disease between 1850 and 1864. What started as a religious movement of Christian converts in rural China cascaded into a massive civil war drawing in the Western colonial powers and set the Qing, the last dynasty in China’s history, in its death spiral.

This LibGuide aims to get undergraduate students started studying this topic. We'll cover some simple search terms and topics along with some books and articles to start researching this fascinating piece of world history.

Between 1853 and 1856. Qing jun wei gong Jinling tu  [Manuscript on silk]. Library of Congress.