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This article studies Rotating Savings and Credit Associations (ROSCAs) in late imperial and Republican-era Shanxi province, China, from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. It investigates how communal finance fostered pre-industrial economic growth and commercial activity. Drawing on previously unused, original materials from historical Shanxi ROSCAs and households, it makes several important discoveries. First, it finds widespread ROSCA participation, estimating no fewer than 7.1 per cent of Shanxi households participated in ROSCAs. Second, it estimates expected internal rates of returns on ROSCA membership at 2.55–6.01 per cent annually. This suggests that ROSCAs were economically competitive with other Chinese traditional financiers, which often charged more for loans and offered less to savers. Third, it finds a surprising degree of liquidity for ROSCA shares. Finally, it uncovers commercial entities participating in ROSCAs, suggesting ROSCAs could be useful to for-profit enterprises. The article concludes that ROSCAs and communal finance may have played an important role in supporting pre-industrial economic activity.