This will be a short post. Two promising district archives in Shanghai, 长宁区档案馆 Changning District Archives and the 宝山区档案馆 Baoshan District Archives, one urban and one more rural (respectively), are both closed as of writing.
They have a lot of materials. The could offer rich insights into socialist China’s history at very, very local levels. But both Changning and Baoshan are closed. Don’t bother visiting until sometime in 2016-2017, and even then, don’t have too high of expectations.
I’ve showed up at the Changning Archives three times and the Baoshan Archives twice. My experiences at Changning are as follows: (1) stonewalled; (2) allowed to see two or three folders and then stonewalled; (3) stonewalled. My experiences at Baoshan are as follows: (1) stonewalled; (2) stonewalled. Not a good pattern, and now both archives are claiming to follow new regulations requiring them to review every single document and ensure that it can and should be made available to the public.
Until then? Not a single file can be seen.
Both archives claim to be following the law, but my gut instinct is that this is more personality driven. Why? Because I’ve done research at other district archives in Shanghai who never mentioned “the law.” And at both Changning and Baoshan archives, I have met extremely difficult to deal with mid-level and upper-level staff.
In 2013, the catalogs for both archives were available online, so I have a ton of citations for both. Unfortunately, I can’t do much with this information as both archives refuse to allow researchers to see anything at the moment.