China Family Documents
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Old Family Documents (guwenshu)
Research Use: Provide dates of vital events, allowing unique identification of individuals and lineage linkage.
Record Type: These are family documents kept by family elders pertaining to the family history, property, and so forth. They include marriage contracts, marriage certificates, divorce papers, contracts of property division, birth records, adoption and heirship agreements, contracts of property division, and other contracts.
Time Period: 1700s-present.
Contents: Vary according to the specific document. EULOGIES include name and age of the deceased, date of birth and death, names and relationships of next of kin. MARRIAGE CONTRACTS include names of bride and bridegroom, birthdates, and several generations of ancestry for both. ADOPTION AND HEIRSHIP AGREEMENTS include names of adoptive and natural parents and other facts of genealogical importance. CONTRACTS OF PROPERTY DIVISION include names and relationships of parties to agreement, reasons and terms of division, name of scribe, names and relationships of intermediary and witnesses, date of agreement division. DIVORCE PAPERS include names of signers of agreement (for example, mother and married son), name and age of the woman, reasons for divorce, names of witnesses, date of agreement; if marriage rights are sold, the name of the new spouse and the sum to be paid are given.
Location: University libraries, research institutions, and individual families.
Population Coverage: The potential coverage is as high as 15%. But, because of the great destruction of such records in mainland China, they actually cover less than 3%.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: China,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1997.