Japan Compiled Genealogies
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Compiled History and Genealogy of Clans and Families (Keizu)
What they are
These records are compiled genealogies, organized collections of lineage data, family histories, pedigrees, family and community genealogies, some manuscript and some published. Includes feudal lord genealogies (daimyo kafu), court genealogies (kuge kafu), samurai genealogies (samurai kafu), (bukan), and similar records. Formats vary considerably in Japanese genealogies. Some are extremely elaborate and others brief. Linked format with main line and patriarchal emphases are fairly standard. The earliest genealogies date from the 800s and are still being produced at the present time; the main coverage is from 1550 to the 1870s.Many Japanese genealogies created during the Edo Period (1603-1867) are filled with errors and should be checked against reliable sources.
Use these records to
- Extend your ancestral records, going back many generations
- Find dates and places of events in the ancestors’ lives
- Learn other information, depending on the record
Standard entries include names, aliases, titles, ranks, lineage, generational information, and some dates and places. Some entries also include information on adoptions, feudal relationships, fiefs, heraldic devices, and biographical items.
Population coverage: Coverage is estimated at 5 to 10% of historical population from 1600-1867. The main emphasis of these records is on upper classes: feudal lords, aristocrats, samurai (retainers), Shinto priests, and the imperial line.
Reliability: These records are a secondary source. Verification of evidence is a must when using secondary sources, but verifying information from these records is difficult due to the lack of primary source documents. Older records are more subject to error.
Research use: Provide the results of previous research. Often provide information from record types, areas, and time periods where the original records are lost or unavailable and which the Family History Library has not yet acquired and may never be able to acquire.
How to obtain them
Many of these records have been microfilmed and are available at the Family History Library. It is difficult to determine how many of these records still exist. The Library has about 1500 reels of compiled genealogies, family histories, and collected biographies.
The Family History Library has also acquired a majority of the standard genealogical works in books such as:
- Shinsen Shojiroku genealogies of 1,182 noble families compiled in the year 815 AD
- Sonpi Bunmyaku genealogies of main and branch families
- Compiled genealogies of the imperial family and other court nobles of the fourteenth century
- Kugyo Bunin records of appointment of court nobles, which list individuals who were appointed as imperial advisors (Sangi or above)
- Han Kan Fu genealogies of the prominent families of 337 feudal lords between 1600 and 1680
- Kunsei Choshu Shokafu genealogies of feudal lords, samurai, physicians, and other prominent individuals to 1798
- Jige Kaden genealogies of low-ranking court officials
- Shokaden family histories of various court nobles to the 1760s
- Gunsho Ruiju
- Zokugunsho Ruiju, which is a collective work compiled by Holiichi Hanawa, including genealogies of prominent families
They are also available in public and private collections throughout Japan. Large collections are still left in a number of prefectural archives.
- Shinsen Shōjiroku, an online edition. Completed in the year 814 A.D. and revised in 815 A.D., containing genealogical records for 1182 families (404 divine; 335 vassals; 326 foreign; 117 uncategorized).
- Japanese Imperial Family Tree
- 850-2012 - Japan, Genealogies, 850-2012 at FamilySearch — images
A wiki article describing an online collection is found at:
- Dr. Kin-itsu Hirata, "The Search for My Japanese Roots: Using Buddhist and Local Sources," World Conference on Records: Preserving Our Heritage, August 12-15, 1980, Vol. 11: Asian and African Family and Local History. FHL US/CAN Book 929.1 W893 1980 v. 11
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Japan,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.