South Korea Gazetteers
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Local Histories and Gazettes (Shin-moon-ji or Ji-bang-ji)
Research Use: Local histories and gazettes can be very useful for research. For example, one can consult various sections to find information about clan origin, family movements, birth or burial places, etc. Local histories also are a valuable aid in understanding geographic conditions and historical background of the area. The can supplement genealogy books and official records which are often nonexistent today for many localities and time periods. The biographical data is very valuable for those with prominent ancestors and these records may contain data for females and lower-class individuals which are not available elsewhere. They are an invaluable source of historical place names and administrative boundary changes. This makes them very useful for correlating research even when they don’t provide information about the user’s specific ancestry.
Record Type: These are historical geographic studies of specific villages and towns that include some biographical and genealogical information.
Background: These books are quite similar to the local histories and gazettes found in China. Korean local histories, like their Chinese counterparts, usually contain a number of sections dealing with the history and geography of the particular locale and with influential families and individuals in the community. Each local history covers a specific administrative unit (county, town, city, or prefecture).
Time Period: About 1500 to present.
Contents: A typical local history is divided into sections covering a wide range of topics and categories, including: geography, historical events, local literary contributions, taxes, population, products and trade, education, transportation, local legends and folklore, and so on. Many include a chapter devoted to recording the famous or influential families or clans of the area. They often include precise biographical information about prominent individuals as well as mention of – or even lists of – local persons of merit such as local officials, persons who lived long lives (more than 90 years), faithful sons and chaste widows. In North Korea the biographies would spotlight local martyrs of the revolution. Approximately 20 to 30% of the contents contain genealogical or biographical information.
Location: University and local libraries, the Central National Library of Seoul, Harvard library and some other foreign libraries.
Percentage in Family History Library: 55%.
Population Coverage: About 5%. Local histories and gazettes generally include data about important personalities and special categories of individuals. Reliability: Generally very reliable.
Accessibility: These works are available for research in local archives and libraries but are difficult to access from outside Korea. Books for places in North Korea can be particularly difficult to access.
- The Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Family History Record Profile: Korea,” Word document, private files of the FamilySearch Content Strategy Team, 1986-2001.