Apr 12, 2023

The Story of China’s Largest Genealogy Collection

Anyone with an interest in Chinese genealogy will be interested in a new article by Huang Wei published on the SixthTone web site:

“In the 1960s, a city librarian went rogue and saved thousands of priceless documents.

“Last fall, when the Shanghai Library opened a massive new branch in the city’s Pudong District, headlines tended to focus on two things: its size and architect Chris Hardie’s design, which included exhibition, performance, and event spaces in addition to the customary stacks.

“Somewhat lost in all this was the library’s collection, one of the driving reasons for the expansion in the first place. In particular, the Shanghai Library is home to arguably the world’s top collection of Chinese genealogies, including more than 300,000 volumes of nearly 40,000 different genealogies, totaling 456 surnames.

“A genealogy is a historical document that records the lineage of a blood line descended from a single ancestor, the blood relationship between family members, and a family’s assets and customs. They can include depictions of famous family members from history, textual research on the origin of a family’s surname, clan rules and regulations, information on the construction of ancestral halls, even poems. Genealogies of famous families often contain archives of special records, including imperial edicts, orders, and letters given by emperors to officials in the family.”

You can read the full article at: