Ming gongju kaolüe 明貢舉考略 "Concise investigation into the recruitment of state officials of the Ming Dynasty" is a compendium on Ming.period 明 (1368-1644) examination graduates compiled during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Huang Chonglan 黃崇蘭, who hailed from Huaining 懷寧, Anhui, and obtained his jinshi degree in 1771. In 1801, he was appointed educational instructor (jiaoyu 教諭) of Jingxian 涇縣, Anhui.
As a persons experienced with education and examination he consulted sources on the Ming period like the chapter on examination (Xuanju zhi 選舉志) in the official dynastic history Mingshi 明史, or the official books Kechang tiaoguan 科場條貫 and Gongjukao 貢舉考, and compiled his 2-juan long study on the exination system under the Ming.
In the first part of his book he lists all candidates who passed the metropolitan examination in the first position (yuanzhe 元者), then the metropolitan graduates with honours (yijia 一甲: zhuangyuan 狀元, bangyan 榜眼 and tanhua 探花) of all examinations, the best passed scholars (gongshi 貢士) of all metropolitan (huishi 會試) and of all provincial examinations (xiangshi 鄉試). Not all names are known. It was necessary that only the three best of the graduates of the palace examination (dianshi 殿試) and concurrently the best of the metropolitan examination were recorded in the official sources. The names of principal graduates (zhuangyuan 狀元) and principal passed scholars (huiyuan 會元) are often missing.
For the provincial examiners (dian xianshi zhe 典鄉試者) the names are only known from 1585 on, but many names are missing during the Chongzhen reign-period 崇禎 (1628-1644). There are furthermore some missing among the provincial graduates because it was not any more possible to find out their names.
Huang's book is a very important source for the history of the examination system under the Ming, and includes a large amount of names of examiners and graduates of all levels. It was printed during the Jiaqing reign-period 嘉慶 (1796-1820).
Huang Chonglan also wrote a similar book to the examination system of the Qing period, the 3-juan long Qing gongju kaolüe 清貢舉考略, original title Guochao gongju kaolüe 國貢舉考略. A Qing novelty in the examination system were the examinations by imperial favour (enke 恩科). For the list of successful candidates of the provincial examinations, Huang consulted many local libraries and so preserved valuable material that later was lost. The structure of the Qing gongju kaolüe is more or less the same than the book on the Ming examination candidates, yet in the Qing book, the author also marked which posts the successful candidates were appointed to. He also recorded all chief examiners of the provincial examinations and the examination questions, so that the Qing gongju kaolüe is more helpful for the history of state examinations as the somewhat earlier book Qingbi shuwen 清祕述聞.
Quite interesting are Huang's remarks to the examinations for the members of the Eight Banners that were introduced in 1651, or the fact that in 1664 the infamous eight-legged essay (baguwen 八股文) was abolished - albeight only on a temporary basis. Huang also speaks of judicial matters as a case of 1701, when an examiner was found having accepted bribes, and was executed.