What I learned about Chinese
You will perhaps recall that last weekend I participated in the genealogy
seminar in Ogden, Utah sponsored by MyAncestorsFound.com. Holly had arranged for
Ol' Myrt here to provide the use of my computer and projector for two sessions
lead by Sheau -yueh J. Chao, author of IN SEARCH OF YOUR ASIAN ROOTS:
genealogical research on Chinese surnames.
This was a most enlightening experience for me!
Chinese genealogies are kept at the family level, and are not regulated or
controlled by the government.
THE PREFACE INCLUDES:
-- an overview of the derivation of the surname (her's was adopted 71
generations ago when the current emperor's uncle went by her original surname
-- explanation of the geographic origin of the name
-- highlights of famous ancestors in the family
-- behavioral guidelines including respect for the country, family, living a
peaceful life, no smoking, etc.
REGARDING SHEAU'S HAND
-- It is rare for an individual to have a copy, as there is usually only 1 copy
kept by the eldest male in the extended family.
-- It is patriarchal, usually including women's names only in the current
generation or two.
-- Males, even younger brothers, are listed before sisters in the current
-- Often education and occupations are listed for the ancestor.
-- Sheau's 71 generations go back 2,100 years to the original ancestor.
-- Her genealogy has been revised only 5 times by a "compiler" meaning it was
rewritten from beginning to end to accommodate all changes and additions.
-- After each "compilation" the previous "original" genealogy is destroyed.
TWO PARTICIPANTS WERE DIRECTLY
ASSISTED BY SHEAU.
-- One had a document from her deceased grandfather that the researcher couldn't decipher. Sheau explained it was a membership certificate
for a Chinese fraternal organization. Sheau was able to translate most of the
Chinese characters and referred the researcher to a specific source for more
information. Apparently it was notable to belong to such a Chinese organization
when coming to the US in the early 20th century.
--The second participant was looking for a translator to travel to China with
her mother who wished to visit the village of origin, and prevail upon the
eldest to allow a copy of the genealogy to be made for her.
This was my first exposure to Chinese genealogical
research. VERY COOL!
Happy family tree climbing!