China Collection of Genealogies (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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FamilySearch Record Search This article describes a collection of historical records available at
Access the records: China, Collection of Genealogies, 1500-1980 .

Title in the Language of the Record

Record Description

The records are mostly about families who have lived in various provinces in China for several generations. Some of the records contain information about only the most recent few generations. Some of the records are hand-copied, while others are published records in standard format. Most of the records are easily readable, although some have damages due to age, water, and tight bindings. Since most of the records are written in traditional Chinese characters, it is assumed that the user should be able to read Chinese or get help from someone who can read Chinese to fully benefit from this collection.

Records from the Feng Ping Shan Library Collection contains Chinese genealogy titles from Hong Kong University’s Feng Ping Shan Library. Microfilms come from four acquisition projects from the Hong Kong University. The records are not always complete and may not contain information that would normally appear in traditional Chinese genealogies, such as ancestral burial ground descriptions, family mottos or generation poems, and so on.

Additional collections have been added to this database, including records from the East Asian Library Collection from Columbia University in New York.

Collections scheduled to be added to this database are from the Zhongshan Library, Hunan Provincial Library, Shanghai Municipal Archives, and the Hainan University Institute for the Study of Ancient Literature.

Additional records are being added to this collection about residents of the Shandong, Jiangsu Guangdong, Henan, and Anhui Provinces of China.

For an alphabetical list of records currently published in this collection, select the Browse link from the collection landing page.

Clan or lineage genealogies constitute the major source material for Chinese family historians and genealogists. Scholars have shown that clan genealogies can be a valuable source for research into Chinese history.

The size, generational depth, and type of information included in clan genealogies vary a great deal. Most of the genealogies microfiled in various library collections are printed books that average ten volumes per title. However, most of the genealogies collected in special projects from private individuals in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and the Untied States are single volume manuscripts.

The objectives of Chinese genealogical research has tremendously changed over time. Researchers are now studying Chinese genealogies as a supplement to other research areas, such as social economic history, geographical history, history of law, population history, religion and culture, history of overseas Chinese, inheritance practices, and biography of historical figures.

Records in this collection contain information between the Qing dynasty and the Republic era (1700s to early 1900s), even though some preface material includes earlier dates.

In the history of the Chinese people, there are three important elements that are significant. They are China's history, the local gazette, and a clan's genealogy. Among these three elements, genealogy has the longest history and is the most influential. Family genealogies were recorded -- first by objects tied onto knotted rope and later by writing found on turtle shells, cow bones, and bronze -- to record the changes to a family's lineage and to honor that family's ancestors. 

These records are generally reliable. 

Citation for This Collection

The following citation refers to the original source of the data and images published on Historical Records. It may include the author, custodian, publisher and archive for the original records.

University of Hong Kong. Chinese Genealogies. Fung Ping Shan Library, Pokfulam, Hong Kong.

Suggested citation format for a record in this collection.

Record Content

Information found in this collection includes the following:

  • A brief history of the origin of the family and the dispersion pattern of some of the branches
  • A list of male ancestors’ names according to generation order
  • The birth year or death year of the ancestor, if known
  • The maiden surname of the spouse, if known
  • The number and names of the male descendents of each couple, if known

How to Use the Record

Begin your search by typing: the family surname, country (which is China most of the time), province, and then the county, if known. The title of the records from the county will be listed. Some of the records include a publication year, if known. Even though many records are from Guangdong Province where most of the families lived in the last century, some of the records are listed under the province and county where the ancestors originated. Some records list “unknown” as the family’s locality because the record itself does not specify any particular place or no single place can be used because the family is too widely scattered.

Searching through the images

To search the collection, select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page ⇒Select the “Family Name (姓氏)” ⇒Select the “Country (國)” ⇒Select the “Province (省)” ⇒Select the “County (縣)” ⇒Select the “Title (題名) and Year" which will take you to the images.

Look at the images one by one comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine which one is your ancestor. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to make this determination.

Known Issues with This Collection

Important.png Problems with this collection?
See a list of known issues, workarounds, tips, restrictions, future fixes, news and other helpful information.

For a full list of all known issues associated with this collection see the attached Wiki article. If you encounter additional problems, please email them to Please include the full path to the link and a description of the problem in your e-mail. Your assistance will help ensure that future reworks will be considered.

Related Websites

Chinese genealogies

Related Wiki Articles

Contributions to This Article

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.

Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.

Citation Example for a Record Found in This Collection

"China, Collection of Genealogies, 1500-1900," images, FamilySearch (https;// accessed 9 May, 2012), Leng > 冷China > 中國Hunan > 湖南Xinhua 新化冷氏續修家乘 [4卷], 1862, FHL 2,284,623 Item 5.

A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the wiki article Help:How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.