China Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in China, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com can be searched free of charge at your local family history center or the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • Christianity in China comprises Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and a small number of Orthodox Christians. Also The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a tiny presence. The Orthodox Church, which has believers among the Russian minority and some Chinese in the far northeast and far northwest, is officially recognized in Heilongjiang.
  • Christianity existed in China as early as the 7th century, living multiple cycles of significant presence for centuries, then disappearing for other centuries, and then being re-introduced by foreign missionaries.
  • Waves of missionaries came to China in the Qing period as a result of contact with foreign powers. Russian Orthodoxy was introduced in 1715, and Protestant missions began entering China in 1807.
  • The pace of missionary activity increased considerably after the First Opium War in 1842. Some of the early leaders of the early republic (1912–49), such as Sun Yat-sen, were converts to Christianity and were influenced by its teachings.
  • By 1921, Harbin, Manchuria's largest city, had a Russian population of around 100,000, constituting a large part of Christianity in the city.
  • Christianity, especially in its Protestant form, gained momentum in China between the 1980s and the 1990s. Protestants in the early 21st century, including both official and unofficial churches, had between 25 and 35 million adherents. Catholics were not more than 10 million.
  • In the 2010s the scholarly estimate was of approximately 30 million Christians, of whom less than 4 million were Catholics. In the same years, about 40 million Chinese said they believed in Jesus Christ or had attended Christian meetings, but did not identify themselves with the Christian religion. Christians were unevenly distributed geographically, the only provinces in which they constituted a population significantly larger than 1 million persons being Henan, Anhui and Zhejiang. Protestants were characterized by a prevalence of people living in the countryside, women, illiterates and semi-literates, and elderly people.
  • In recent decades the Communist Party of China has remained intolerant of Christian churches outside party control, looking with distrust on organizations with international ties. The government and Chinese intellectuals tend to associate Christianity with subversive Western values, and many churches have been closed or destroyed. In addition, Western and Korean missionaries are being expelled.[1][2][3]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name



How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of China.
b. Click on Places within China and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Because of government suppression of churches, correspondence for records is not recommended.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "China", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China, accessed 1 April 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in China", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China, accessed 1 April 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Christianity in China", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_China, accessed 1 April 2020.