Chinese Genealogy · Genealogy How Tos · How To Videos

My new book: Getting started in Chinese genealogy

It’s been two weeks since I released my new e-book Getting started in Chinese genealogy: a family historian’s step by step guide (even if you don’t speak or read Chinese). In this post I’d like to share some feedback, an awesome video, and give you the chance to win a free copy of your own.

What people didn’t say

Nobody wrote to say it sucked. Phew.

When you write a book – any book – the first thought when you finally let it be seen in the world is, What if it’s terrible? For a non-fiction how-to book, it’s What if people don’t find it useful? Or What if there are mistakes?

And the truth is that no matter how many times you edit and review, a book never truly feels complete. There’s so much more to say, so much more to write, and that’s how books get started but not finished.

What people did say

People have been generous and kind. Thank you everyone, so much.

I have gone through the Table of Contents! I think this will be a required book for studying and researching Chinese genealogy.


Congratulations, Linda! The organization is terrific and the writing is very easy reading and personable. Well done indeed.


This is wonderful!! Congratulations on pulling together this much-needed publication.


Chinese genealogy 101 by Carly Morgan, Family Tree Notebooks

In this video, Carly shares stories of finding her own Chinese ancestors, and then does a book review of Getting started in Chinese genealogy. It’s so positive I feel I must assure you I didn’t pay her (but I would!)

Get your own copy: Enter my book giveaway contest

To celebrate the faithful readers of this blog, I will be giving away 3 copies of my new book, Getting started in Chinese genealogy: a family historian’s guide (even if you don’t speak or read Chinese) (valued at $29.99).

Here’s how to enter

  1. Leave a comment below on why you’d like a copy of my book, and
  2. Watch Carly’s Chinese Genealogy 101 video (above); and
  3. Let her know what you think of her video by leaving a comment there (full words only, please, although you can add emojis when you’re done).

That’s it! Easy.

Contest closes 15 March 2021. (Winners will be announced on the 16th!)

25 thoughts on “My new book: Getting started in Chinese genealogy

  1. Though my family’s history was researched from my paternal grandfather’s side I would also like to know more about the maternal sides…

    From ordered brides speaking different dialects than their husbands to separated families …one in Canada one in China..


    Roger Mah Poy

  2. Similar to your story, I’ve started researching my Chinese family history having grown up in America and not being able to speak/write/read Chinese. By the time I’ve gotten interested in learning more, the people who I’d be able to lean on for information (grandparents, great uncles/aunts) have all since passed with few exceptions. With no information to start with and very little interest in family helping me, it’s quite a solitary journey.

    As you know, right now I’m attempting to go at it alone and can certainly use all of the help I can get. I’ve joined numerous groups and have resorted trying to “crowdsource” ways to find new facts, details, or leads as to where I take my search. Having a roadmap, such as this book, would certainly help to guide this wayward son in his search.

    1. I’m thoroughly enjoying your journey, Chris, and it’s a privilege to be able to help out.

  3. Thank you for your insight. Researching my Chinese heritage is a challenge. We do not have a copy of family history like you do, we have a few precious clippings.

    1. Cheryel – your situation is more common than mine. Take heart – all genealogy begins with small steps. Good luck!

  4. Congrats Linda on your new book, Chinese genealogy: a family historian’s guide! It will be a great resource of for one who wonders about their family story. Forget about doing crossword, sudoku or puzzles during a pandemic! Genealogy is a journey of ups and downs and sideways you wouldn’t believe. You can come up with more questions than answers after this and this is on a good day! This book will hopefully straighten the long and winding road and guide us down to some kind of definitive road map to knowing your own family story. Can’t wait to turn the pages and discover.

    1. Thank you, Jack! I hope you know that even with the book, the journey to learn more about your family doesn’t end. We have a joke: “I have completely finished my genealogy, said no genealogist ever.”

  5. After years and years of searching and with the help of many wonderful people, I just found a 32 generation chart of my Xie family line. I don’t speak or read Chinese very well and I am trying to decipher this genealogy. I can relate so much to your video on this blog post. I am so glad there are people out there who are going through the same thing as I am and have resources to share!

    1. Phew! Congratulations – that’s a stunning achievement. My book does not go into deciphering a jiapu or a zupu – those are fairly advanced techniques – but it will give you a good grounding in things that make Chinese genealogy so challenging and rewarding in equal measure.

      Until I started this blog, I too thought I was the only one out there pursuing this type of family history. It never fails to delight me to meet more people doing the same work. Welcome.

  6. I listened to you on the podcast. So check out your website to see about your book. Getting Started in Chinese History. Sounds like a wonderful book that I could give to my daughter. She is married to a Chinese man and has no idea how to do his genealogy and I feel this would help her get started.

    1. True – we all have our own reasons for getting into Chinese genealogy. I sometimes find the most keen are the ones who marry in!

  7. Linda, the universe has somehow directed me to you and your expertise. (including your new book which I hope to win!) I have found myself volunteering to find my husband’s cousins’ Chinese grandfather and also at the same time sleuthing for our next-door neighbour’s Chinese heritage which we suspect starts with a Chinese grandfather too. There seems to be a theme here. I have stepped up as an adventurous amateur genealogist (with no background in this area) to help them find their roots. I realize I need more help, resources and tools to get the job done and absolutely love the enthusiasm that both you and Carly have to share. We need more mentor’s like you to help those of us who are willing to take on the challenge of learning Chinese Genealogy! Thank you for being there. 🙂

    1. Hmmm I do think I see a pattern..! 🙂 In truth, I’m glad you are trying to research people of the grandparent level and back. Privacy laws make searching for living people tricky, particularly in countries like Canada with tight privacy laws. Welcome to the surprising and wacky world of Chinese genealogy. I promise it will be incredibly interesting. If you’re already into family history, you’ll be able to do lots of comparisons between different styles. Welcome.

  8. Studying the Chinese ancestry of my daughter. As an avid genealogist with much experience in the Netherlands, reading and learning about the US archival system and where to find sources about Chinese immigrants is fascinating! I hop to win a copy of your book and learn the basics of how to conduct my journey!

    1. Yes, I’m also learning about both the American and Canadian treatments of the Chinese populations, and the types of documentary evidence that resulted. It is fascinating and full of surprises. Good luck!

  9. Hi Linda! Would love to discover more about my mixed heritage. My Chinese side has scattered bits and pieces of my grandfather coming over to Canada from China, like many at a young age.I would enjoy knowing more of his family’s lineage and where it all falls in place. I know your book would help my family discover more about their heritage, lineage and more! ❤️

    1. Hi Marj, welcome! Chinese ancestry is such a wayward path for those of us who don’t come with a knowledge of the language. I am so glad to meet you, and I wish you luck!

  10. A little more than a year ago, my siblings and I came across a Yucho Chow group portrait of Chinese men that included our father as a young boy. We believe that this is a photo taken in Vancouver in the early 1920’s, of dad, his father and his uncles. We never got to meet them or know their names. Was the youngest man my father’s beloved 4th uncle? The seated gentleman perhaps our grandfather? There are no living relatives who can give us answers as to who these family members were, why the photo was taken, and for whom.

    We were overwhelmed by how to begin a search into our father’s history. Without names and dates to research and no facility in spoken or written Chinese it seemed impossible ….until we heard about your book. We are very excited about using it to learn the skills that will help us uncover what should be a fascinating family story. We are at a stage in life where we are each reflecting on our own past. Being able to fill in the blanks of our paternal heritage will help us to define our personal history. Hopefully, by framing our father’s history around our own family memories, we’ll have the beginnings of a proud legacy to pass on to future generations.

    1. You are speaking my language, Frances. I understand exactly what you’re saying. I have been banging my head against the language barriers, the inaccessible records, the stories my families refused to talk about, and the whole big ball of seemingly insurmountable problems. I’ve been on this hunt for about 25 years or more, and I thought finding more about my family history would be my retirement project. And like you, it all began with questions about my father: “Who was he? What was it like for him when he was a boy? What made him the man he later became?”

      Fast forward to today. There are resources available today, mostly for free, that were unthinkable 25 years ago. Good luck! I’ll be drawing the names of the winners on March 16th. If you haven’t already, please sign up for my newsletter, where I’ll announce the details.

  11. Hi! Please let me toss my hat into the ring as well. I’d love to win a copy of your book because I am in desperate need of some guidance in the realm of Chinese genealogy. The Chinese branch of my family tree is frustratingly bare. My paternal great grandfather Him Lew (or Liu or 劉) has proven to be quite an elusive fellow. He and my Mexican American great grandmother split back in the 1930s, so I know almost nothing about our Chinese family. We only have 2 grainy photos, his headstone, and a bare handful of documents. And unfortunately, many of the “facts” in those documents don’t quite match up. In fact, when I first started my research, I thought his name was really Charles Leo! Language has been a major barrier. My hope is to someday find out more about my mystery great grandfather and his family. It would be really nice to learn what part of China they hailed from. Someday!

    1. Angel, you definitely have a mystery to solve. A 1930s disappearing great grandfather. Facts that don’t jibe. Confusing names. These are definitely the hallmarks of Chinese genealogy. Welcome to the contest and good luck!


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