Local gazetteers (difangzhi or fangzhi for short), sometimes also
called local histories ... they were often compiled by members of the
local elite and were produced under the sponsorship of the local
officials. ... They form one of the most important sources for the study
of Chinese history in the past one thousand years, since they contain
copious materials on local administration, local economies, local
cultures, local dialects, local officials, and local dignitaries -
materials that often cannot be found elsewhere.
Chinese history: a manual (Revised and Enlarged)
Endymion Wilknson Cambridge, Mass.: Published by the Harvard University Asia Center for the Harvard-Yenching Institute : Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2000.
"Local gazetteers (地方志) embrace all types of information concerning the historical, geographical, economic, administrative, biographical, touristic, etc., aspects of a locality in China. Local gazetteers are usually subdivided into provincial gazetteers (通志), prefectural gazetteers (府志), and district gazetteers (县志). The provincial gazetteers were usually compiled by summarizing the information in the prefectural gazetteers which were, in turn, abridged from previous editions and form the individual district gazetteers”.
China bibliography: a research guide to reference works about China past and present
Harriet T. Zurndorfer. Leiden ; New York : E.J. Brill, 1995.
方志即地方志，它是一种记述地方自然和社会等各个方面历史与现状的综合性著作。方志的主要特点是在内容上具有广泛性。。。。在古代，方志被称为“一方之全史”，在现代，方志被誉为“地方百科全书”。在记述范围上，方志具有地域性。方志记述的范围，一般都以一定的地理区域为限。。。。在编纂刊印上，方志具有连续性。一部方志在首次编成刊印后，间隔一段时间，一般都要进行续修。《中文工具书基础》 朱天俊. 北京：北京图书馆出版社，1998.
The PPT was presented in the CCM pre-conference workshop at 2013 AAS/CEAL annual conference.