This is the expanded and updated 2022 edition of Getting Started in Chinese Genealogy.
Since its release in February 2021, it’s been picked up by institutions and individuals alike, and the feedback has been incredible.
My friend Linda Yip is a genius and she knows many things about Chinese genealogy. She’s taught me a lot about Chinese genealogy… and she just put out a book, and it’s really good… there’s so much stuff in this book you guys…and I don’t think this book has existed until now…I can’t say enough about it… it’s a fantastic resource. It was so needed. – Carly Lane Morgan, Family Tree Notebooks
You will be interested in this guide if you are new to Chinese genealogy and aren’t sure where and how to start, or if you’ve been doing your own family history for years and would like some basics, or if you’re a keen family genealogist who’d like something to help you explain Chinese genealogy to other people.
This guide is for you if you don’t speak or read Chinese but would still like to find more about your roots and where you come from.
This guide starts out with my Top Tips for Beginning Genealogists: the things I wished I’d known when I started out, that would have saved me hundreds of hours of frustration and confusion in everything from understanding census records to why there were so many name variations.
What’s in the book
I go through the whole process of understanding and working in Chinese genealogy step by step, breaking down a complex branch of family history into the basics, beginning with finding your name in Chinese. I discuss all seven districts once known as The Four Counties (Sze Yup or 四邑) and The Three Counties (Sam Yup or 南番順). I’ve added a section on finding jiapus (family tree books, or 家譜) online and instructions on how to use the jiapu resources at the Shanghai Library. I have a section on identifying the Chinese words for “Eldest Son (長子), Second Son (次子), Eldest Daughter (長女 or 长女), Second Daughter (次女 or 二女),” and so forth so that you will be able to identify them on a Chinese family tree.
New for 2022 is a section on identifying important Chinese geographic terms such as district (区), to help in finding the historic home areas.
Also new for 2022 is a section on useful technology for genealogy for Macs and PCs, to help you hurdle the Chinese language barrier.
I tried the technique you recommended for using Google Chrome with the Translate Extension enabled at the Shanghai Library and it’s a game changer! – T.S.
I provide a glossary of useful terms and concepts for Chinese genealogy in Chinese and English so you too can recognize and look up the right words in Chinese, because if you don’t read Chinese, it’s terrifically useful to be able to see at a glance what the character looks like.
And there’s a reference section with all the links to resources used in the book.
If you’d like, check out the pictures to get an idea of what’s inside the book: the full index, plus two sample pages are shown.
All about using Chinese
For the beginning student in Chinese genealogy, even the English words are confusing. I explain the differences between Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese and their various Romanized formats from Pinyin and Wade-Giles to Jyutping and why that matters to you.
This book was inspired by my blogs and focuses on the history of Chinese migrants who left China by the tens of thousands from 1850-1949 to make their way in the New World, be it the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or other places, to become what is now known as the Overseas Chinese.
Where can you find my book?
Please check the Canadian holdings at the Vancouver City Archives and the Alberta Family Histories Society.
Find American holdings at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the Family History Library, Salt Lake City; the Allen County Library; and the Brigham Young University library.
NOTE: This is a digital download. No products will be shipped. Look for the orange DOWNLOAD button after payment. It’s strongly recommended you download the files to a computer, as computers have a readily findable folder called “Downloads.” It is not recommended to download the file to a smartphone – the book is not formatted to be read on a small screen, and phones will instantly lose your file. You are warned! 🙂 Kidding. If you lose your file, check Shopping FAQs, and if you still can’t find it, let me know.