Chinese Names and
Genealogical Records for Jiapu

by Sheau-yueh Chao

[April 28, 2006]


The genealogies have long been used by historians, archaeologists, sociologists, ethnologists, and demographers in their investigation of past human behavior on social and historical evidences relating to a lineage organization or a clan. Chinese genealogical records, also called pudie 譜牒, zongpu 宗譜, zupu 族譜, jiapu 家譜, zipu 支譜, or jiacheng 家乗, has been used for thousands of years to record the genealogical history of a family, including a family’s origin, its collateral lines, names and ages of the members, records of marriages, births and deaths, merits and deeds, and brief biographical information of the male family members. This paper examines the history of Chinese names and the genealogical records for jiapu. It details the significance of Chinese names and introduces the types of Chinese names and their meanings, followed by the historical development of surnames, clan names, and generation names.

The paper proceeds with the introduction of types and functions of Chinese genealogical records for jiapu, followed by the information on how to trace your roots and conduct a typical Chinese-American genealogical research. Finally, the paper analyzes the current documentation, preservation, and research status of Chinese genealogies and summarizes with focus on the importance of Chinese genealogical studies in the Asian studies field.   

Table of Contents

1) History of Chinese Names and Genealogical Records

2) The Significance of Chinese Names

3) Types of Chinese Names and their Meanings

4) From Surnames to Clan Names

5) Generation Names

6) Contents of Genealogical Records for jiapu

7) How to Conduct a Typical Chinese-American Genealogical Research

8) Documentation, Preservation, and Research

9) Summary






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