China Military Records
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Research Use: In cases where lineage genealogies are unavailable these records can provide lineage linkage and individual information. Successful examination candidates are remembered by their posterity and often became founders of lineages. Therefore, in cases where genealogies have been destroyed the genealogical information contained in these rosters can be positively identified by potential users.
Record Type: Records of civil and military examinations and those who successfully took the examinations. These include military and literary examination rosters (1672-1911), metropolitan examination rosters (1776-1911), and graduate rosters (1644-1911).
Time Period: From as early as 960 A.D. to 1911.
Contents: There are 19 types of rosters for successful civil and military examination candidates at the provincial, metropolitan and palace levels. All give the candidates’ names and places of origin; 13 provide his age or date or year of birth; 8 list four or more generations of direct line ancestry; and 5 identify grandmothers, mothers, wives, offspring, and collateral male kinsmen. The contents of 15 types are entirely genealogical data. The genealogical content of the remaining 4 roster types is diluted by the inclusion of answers to examination questions. Nevertheless, 2 of these 4 diluted types contain more extensive genealogical data for individual candidates than all of the roster types. The chart below indicates more specifically the content of each type of roster.
Location: Many are in the First Historical Archives, Beijing, China (Grand Secretariat collection). Others are found in research libraries in China and abroad.
Percentage in Family History Library Collection: Probably up to 80% of extant records. The Family History Library’s present collection of about 1700 titles, filmed at the First Historical Archives and at the Columbia University East Asia Library, relates largely to candidates of the Qing period (1644-1912) in the various provinces of mainland China.
Population Coverage: Less than 10% of the population took examinations. These records are limited to an elite group of successful exam candidates. Reliability: Highly reliable.
Accessibility: Accessible to public through public libraries and to scholars at archives in China. Many available records have already been microfilmed and the collection of the Family History Library makes many of these records accessible.
- 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.