Chinese Genealogy

And the winners are…

I had a hoot on Facebook Live this morning, announcing the winners of my book giveaway contest. For anyone who may have missed it, or would like to see it again, here is the video and the transcript.


About me.
I’m Linda, I am a genealogist based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I want to let you know that in family history it’s so interesting now because geography really does not play a part in this… this is in fact my sixth place.

I was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; lived in Calgary, Alberta; and then let’s see… Ontario, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Massachusetts, and now Saskatchewan. Welcome everyone!

In this live broadcast, I’m going to talk about why I wrote this book, what people are saying about the book – I’ll be giving some shout outs and thank yous – and then I will get to the fun part where I’ll announce winners of the contest.

I am a member of the Ancestry Canada Advisory Board of Genealogists, the Association of Professional Genealogists, I am a member of several family history societies, among them British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Seattle, and the Chinese Canadian Historical Society.

And Ontario I’m coming for you so stay tuned!

Also I am a coming lecturer with the Canadian Genealogical Virtual Research Institute coming up this summer. I will be presenting on immigration records as a part of Course One, coming to Canada for immigrants of Chinese descent.

So why did I write this book?

My book, Getting started in Chinese genealogy: a family historian’s step-by-step guide (even if you don’t speak or read Chinese). Honestly, I have to say huge thank yous to Linda Harms Okazaki and to Carly Lane Morgan. We were in the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy breakout room this past February and they encouraged me to write a book. And I said, “…well you know, a lot of my advice is already on my website, so people can get my advice for free. Why would they want to buy a book?”

And they said, “Linda! You know people like books and they would be happy to purchase something if you put it all together and made it something they could download, and especially you know if you can download it, make it pretty, and the formatting…” and so I was convinced.

And what I really noticed is when I gathered all my blogs together and put them together in a book format I had a lot more to say, seeing it all together like that and one of the things I also noticed is that even though I’d written all of these blog posts within the last four years – you know the world of genealogy is changing so quickly – tools are coming online with breathtaking frequency – that even though my blogs were fairly recent, there was some updating that needed to be done. And so I did that with this book.

Also, with this work, I was hoping that my approach would resonate with people that are in the same boat as me: confused, linguistically challenged, but determined.

Now I think the biggest issue in Chinese genealogy is that you don’t know the right questions to ask. You don’t even know how to get to the starting gate. You don’t know what’s important.

And that’s why I wrote the book.

Now, people have been incredibly kind with their comments and it is my honor to have a copy of my book at the Family History Library at Brigham Young University in Utah, and this is so that volunteers can use it to help other people who come in who are researching their Chinese ancestry! It is amazing. Also if you look on my blog, you will see this fantastic review by Carly where she reviews my book and says incredibly nice things about it.

So now at this point I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped make this book possible: to friends and family who took the time to comment, whose comments all along, all this time, for years and years, have been informing me in putting this book together.

And to my husband who spent several late nights editing my book to make it the best it could be. That having been said, any mistakes are mine alone – they’re no one else’s. And now I’m going to read a list of the people that I want to thank who have promoted the book, who have read it, who have commented, and let’s go.

I will give you their names and their locations because I think this is amazing:

  • Trish Hackett Nicola in Washington
  • Gail Dever at genealogy à la carte
  • Ron Chan of the Bay Area Chinese Family History Group, and also Linda Harms Okazaki – Ron and Linda both in California
  • Alice Kane in Massachusetts
  • Catherine Clement in British Columbia, and now a group of people from Utah:
  • Laura Lefler
  • Carly Morgan of Family Tree Notebooks
  • Kelly Summers of Brigham Young University
  • Nicole Dyer and Diana Elder of Family Locket and Research Like A Pro – all of them from Utah,
    also Professor Lisa Kwong of Indiana
  • also thank you to members of my Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy Group, Chinese Ancestry, which we took together in January 2020 thank you, all of you
  • also, members of my Facebook group Genealogy for Asian Canadians, thank you for your comments and your stories and your questions
  • especially thank you to the dozens of people who have bought the book and who have taken time to comment: a huge thank you to you
  • thank you to the over 100 000 readers of my blog, really this wouldn’t exist without you.

OK! So now we’ve come to the super fun part where I will be giving away the prizes.

So you know when I was thinking about this I thought initially that I would do a draw, and then I was thinking about fun ways that I might be able to do this, and honestly everyone here, I want to recognize all of you, so my secret prize for everyone who entered is: you will receive a copy of my Full Chinese Genealogy Checklist ($10 value) and the ones who do not win a book will be getting a coupon for half price because I still want to help you.

Okay now, I had set out to give away three books and I would like to draw two names and choose one so that’s what I’m going to do.

and I’m going to choose… I wish I had someone here to pick a name. Oh now that I’ve shaken them all together, they’re now harder to grab, they’re all mixed up together, okay.

Now I practiced this name earlier today when I was writing them out but if I get it wrong, please forgive me.

Sjoerd de Riddler… Sjoerd de Ridder, you win a book! Congratulations!

My number two draw is Marj! Marj, congratulations you win a book as well!

And now some of you took the time to tell me a bit about yourself and your journey and I felt the stories resonate so deeply with me and in particular one: Frances.

First of all, congratulations! Well your story resonates with me so hard, and your submission was so good that I’m going to share it here.

I really feel that your story is something that everyone will be able to relate to.

“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 1920s 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 fourth 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 for spoken or written Chinese. It seemed impossible … until we heard about your book. We’re 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 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.”

Frances, thank you. Your story and your search for your father’s story resonates with me and my search from my father’s story and in truth a large part of what I do and have done is to find out what was it like for him, what was the world like for him, what was the history, and then through him, my paternal grandfather who died before I was born. What was like life like for him? We do come from a very well-known family but it was like I was rediscovering them.

So thank you to everyone for signing in and actually I do have a couple of comments here.

Angel asks do I have plans to publish a physical hard copy version of my book?

Angel, not yet. I would like very much to publish a hard copy. It wasn’t in the cards at this stage for the first edition. For future editions though I’m already thinking about a second edition, and at that time I think if demand rose, I would love to see my book in bookstores, definitely. But I will let you know that I formatted the book so that it could be printed because it’s 8.5 x 11 paper. That having been said, it is electronic and I took full advantage of the electronic format to pack it full of links because links are so helpful even though they do break sometimes.

CONGRATULATIONS to the contest winners

As noted, everyone who entered will receive a free copy of my Full Chinese Genealogy Checklist. The three lucky winners of my book Getting Started in Chinese Genealogy are Frances, Marj, and Sjoerder. Everyone: I’ve sent out emails to each of you. If you didn’t get it, please check all the places where lost mail goes, and if you are still having trouble, contact me here.

The dress

I am wearing a traditional Chinese dress called a cheong sam. It’s a high-necked, tight, floor length dress with a big slit up the leg. I have only the one cheong sam, and I bought it in Vietnam on my 18 month world tour 1999-2001. I was nervous showing it to my grandmother when I brought it home, but she loved it. Hope you enjoyed it – my usual get up is a black tee with jeans, and I hardly ever wear lipstick these days, under the mask.


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