AbstractIn Chinese studies, understanding the nuanced traits of historical figures, often not explicitly evident in biographical data, has been a key interest. However, identifying these traits can be challenging due to the need for domain expertise, specialist knowledge, and context-specific insights, making the process time-consuming and difficult to scale. Our focus on studying officials from China’s Ming Dynasty is no exception. To tackle this challenge, we propose MingOfficial, a large-scale multi-modal dataset consisting of both structured (career records, annotated personnel types) and text (historical texts) data for 9,376 officials. We further couple the dataset with a a graph neural network (GNN) to combine both modalities in order to allow investigation of social structures and provide features to boost down-stream tasks. Experiments show that our proposed MingOfficial could enable exploratory analysis of official identities, and also significantly boost performance in tasks such as identifying nuance identities (e.g. civil officials holding military power) from 24.6% to 98.2% F1 score in hold-out test set. By making MingOfficial publicly available (see main text for the URL) as both a dataset and an interactive tool, we aim to stimulate further research into the role of social context and representation learning in identifying individual characteristics, and hope to provide inspiration for computational approaches in other fields beyond Chinese studies.