China – genealogy in China

This is a page of genealogical resources about China. Unless otherwise noted, these resources are in English. This page last updated on 20 Jan 2020.

China genealogy – Family Search

If this is your first time looking for records from China, start here. Using Family Search is free, requiring only an email address. [Pro hint: Keep this information handy – if you need to sign into your account while at a Family History Centre, it’ll be good to remember what it is.]

China collection of genealogies, 1239-2014 – Family Search

FamilySearch is doing a MAJOR amount of investment around this collection. As of Jan 2020, there are over 13M (yes, million) images here, all of them family jiapus (Chinese family genealogies). Just the first page – a listing of names in pinyin and classical Chinese characters, is a huge resource in that it can be used as a lookup table for matching pinyin / transliterated Chinese names with their Chinese matches.

To use this collection, you MUST have an idea of the area in China from whence your ancestors originated. The collection is organized this way: NAME (pinyin & Chinese), then COUNTRY (currently only China, but could be many other countries in the future), then PROVINCE (e.g., Guangdong, Shandong, and please note also that Taiwan is listed here), then COUNTY (e.g., Panyu, Zhongshan), then the jiapu. In other words, you’ll need the Name, Country, Province and County to navigate this collection.

There is currently no search function. That might come later, if we get lucky.

Chinese Genealogy (forum)

A forum for people seeking specific questions about their Chinese genealogy, moderated by the very knowledgeable Phillip Tan. Try searching for your last name – chances are someone else is also looking for information on it and might just be related to you.

Chinese Surname Queries (forum)

Similar to the Chinese Genealogy forum above, this is an older RootsWeb site begun in 1996 by Ron Young, for people seeking information on their Chinese roots, and still has questions and answers from ~1996-2011.

Historical photos of China – University of Bristol

A sister site to My China Family. Over 20K photos of China, providing a rich visual resource to what life was like 100 years ago in China.

Origin of Chinese Family Names

A table with the most common Chinese names. My name, “Yip,” is the 49th most common, according to this site. To find your name, try CTL-F (PCs) or CMD-F (Mac) to quickly find it on the page. Once you’re there, you’ll see the spelling variations, historic meaning, and – here’s a nice touch – the number of strokes in the character.

My China Family – University of Bristol

From their site, “On this site you can find a growing body of information about men and women of many different nationalities, professions and ages, who lived and worked in China between the 1850s and 1940s.” A truly astonishing collection of links and information. Very well done.

My China Roots

A for profit site run by Chinese genealogists. Check out their Resources link for database lookups on surnames, villages, and clans.

Village Database Search – Toi Shan, Hoi Ping, Sun Wui, Chung Shan

Bare bones, but if you have some idea of where your ancestors came from, you may be able to find some village information here. If you’d like a how to video, the House of Chinn did one here.