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A biography is a history of a person’s life. A biography may give you birth, marriage, and death information and the names of parents, spouse, children, or other family members. Use the information from a biography cautiously because there may be inaccuracies. You can locate individual or family biographies in the Surname Search of the FamilySearch Catalog.
Thousands of biographies have been gathered and published in collections of biographies, sometimes called biographical encyclopedias or dictionaries. Usually these include only biographies of prominent or well-known Chinese figures.
Biographical Collections (zhuanji)
Research Use: Supplement genealogies. Many provide vital information and provide linkage information. There are several significant indexes to these works that greatly enhance their value.
Record Type: These are collections of biographical sketches of various local individuals.
Time Period: About 960 to present.
Contents: Records of individuals and their accomplishments. Many indicate parentage, birth information (date and place).
Location: Found scattered in libraries and archives throughout China.
Population Coverage: Include mainly important personalities and categories of individuals in a specific area; cover less than 5% of the population.
Reliability: Generally very reliable.
Family History Library Collection
Look in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:
CHINA - BIOGRAPHY
Biographical sketches are found with other material in the 1913 publication Chinese in Hawaii (FHL film 1208497, Item 9). The Southern Alameda County Chapter of the Organization of Chinese Americans, 466 South 5th Street #2, San Jose, CA 95112, presently has a biographical project in progress.
Currently, oral history is very much in vogue, but it is hard to document such histories. Chinese historical societies and university-level Asian American Studies departments have been involved in oral history projects to capture this information. These are particularly valuable where interviewers have been able to talk to some in the past who is now deceased.
- 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.