China Collection of Genealogies - FamilySearch Historical Records

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China, Collection of Genealogies, 1239-2014
This article describes a collection of records at
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Record Description
Record Type: Compiled genealogies
Collection years: 1239-2014
Languages: Chinese, Manchu
Title in the Language: 中國, 族譜收藏
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From various institutions and private holdings in China, North America, and Southeast Asia

What is in This Collection?[edit | edit source]

This collection is comprised of Chinese genealogy records collected from various institutions and sources in China, North America, and some Southeast Asian areas.

The records are mostly about families who have lived in various provinces in China for several generations. They consist of clan genealogies, civil records, compiled biographies, histories, and genealogy charts. Although some genealogies reach as far back as 1239, the time period and content of the records will vary from one genealogy to the next. They also include records from Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Southeast Asian countries. The size, generational depth, and type of information included in clan genealogies is varied. Some of the records have been obtained from private households and collectors in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and the United States. These records may be hand-copied, single volume manuscripts that only contain information about recent generations in a few pages of pedigree charts. Other records may be published in a standard format or have a deeper wealth of information. Most of the records are easily readable, although some documents have been damaged due to aging, water droplets, and tight bindings.

Records in this collection primarily contain information between the Qing dynasty and the Republic era (1700s to early 1900s), though some material from earlier and later dates is included. Most of the genealogies that have been microfilmed in the various library collections are printed books that average ten volumes per title. Clan or lineage genealogies constitute the major source material for Chinese family historians and genealogists. Scholars have shown that clan genealogies can be a valuable source for research into Chinese history.

The objectives of Chinese genealogical research have changed tremendously over time. Researchers are now studying Chinese genealogies as a supplement to other research areas, such as social and economic history, geographical history, history of law, population history, religion and culture, history of overseas Chinese, inheritance practices, and biography of historical figures.

In the history of the Chinese people, there are three elements that are significant: (a) China's history, (b) the local gazette, and (c) a clan's genealogy. Of these three elements, clan genealogies have the longest history and are the most influential. Family genealogies were recorded first as objects tied onto knotted rope and later by writing on turtle shells, cow bones, and bronze. These purpose of these records was to memorialize changes in a family's lineage and honor that family's ancestors.

Image Visibility[edit | edit source]

Whenever possible FamilySearch makes images and indexes available for all users. However, rights to view these data are limited by contract and subject to change. Because of this there may be limitations on where and how images and indexes are available or who can see them. Please be aware some collections consist only of partial information indexed from the records and do not contain any images. For additional information about image restrictions see Restrictions for Viewing Images in FamilySearch Historical Record Collections.

Reading These Records[edit | edit source]

These records are written in Chinese. For help reading these records see Chinese Research Helps and Chinese Translation.

To Browse This Collection[edit | edit source]

You can browse through images in this collection using the waypoints on the Collection Browse Page for China, Collection of Genealogies, 1239-2014.

What Can These Records Tell Me?[edit | edit source]

The following information may be found in these records:

  • A brief history of the origin of the family and the dispersion pattern of some of the branches
  • A list of male ancestors’ names according to generation order
  • The birth year or death year of the ancestor, if known
  • The maiden name or surname of the spouse, if known
  • The number and names of the male descendants of each couple, if known

Collection Content[edit | edit source]

Sample Images[edit | edit source]

How Do I Search This Collection?[edit | edit source]

To begin your search, it is helpful to know the following information:

  • Ancestor's name
  • Approximate year and place of birth
  • Province
  • Any family relationships

Search the Index[edit | edit source]

This collection does not have a searchable index. Only images are available. See View the Images to access them.

View the Images[edit | edit source]

View images in this collection by visiting the Collection Browse Page:
  1. Select Country
  2. Select Province
  3. Select County
  4. Select Title and Year to view the images

How Do I Analyze the Results?[edit | edit source]

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?[edit | edit source]

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Add any new information to your records
  • When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct; there may be more than one person in the records with the same name as your ancestor
  • Titles may be clues to property ownership, occupations, rank, or status within the community

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?[edit | edit source]

  • Check for character variants such as missing or additional radicals or different characters with essentially same pronunciation
  • Your ancestor may have used nicknames or different names at different times

Known Issues[edit | edit source]

Click here for a list of known issues with this collection.

Citing This Collection[edit | edit source]

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation:
The citation for this collection can be found on the Collection Details Page in the section Citing this Collection.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.