Keys to Unlock the Door for Chinese Family History

News Release

On August 25, 2018 from 5 to 7 pm, Tony King, a Chinese genealogy expert, spoke at the Petaling Jaya Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. More than 60 members and friends of the Church attended the event and they were rewarded with hope.

"Chinese members of the Church in the Kuala Lumpur District struggle to find their family history,” says Min Lian Ho, a family history consultant. “They are discouraged. They don’t know where to find information to trace an ancestor. And they aren’t able to read Chinese to determine when they have found helpful information.”

Min Lian continued, “Tony King doesn’t read Chinese that well and yet he has been able to trace his family. This provides encouragement for members here. If he can do it, that gives them hope that they can, too.”

Why do members of the Church search for their family history? The answer is rooted in the belief that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue beyond this life.

Some think that genealogists’ interests are names, dates and places, but that information is only valuable to help confirm a family relationship and assist in telling the story of an ancestor. It is the quest for story that drives the family historian to explore. Genealogists recognize that we have similarities to our ancestors. If they solved a difficult problem, that gives us hope for our problems and ideas of how we might approach challenges. And youth growing up in a troubled world need encouragement as well. We can serve our ancestors who have sacrificed in our behalf by taking their information to temples and performing gospel ordinances in their behalf.  

In many countries vital records, like birth, marriage and death information, reside with the government. Chinese records are held in families in the community of the ancestor. This necessitates a different approach, which Mr. King explained.

“Finding one's village is usually key to finding one's genealogy book,” Mr. King stated. Further, he explained, “To find one's village, two pieces of information are essential:

  1. Knowing names of ancestors (at least grandfather and great-grandfather is usually needed) and
  2. The name and location of the ancestral village.” It is noteworthy that many Chinese list the ancestral village on their tombstone.

These family search ideas may provide the keys to unlock the doors to our family history, but that is not enough.

Susan Ho, Family History director for the Kuala Lumpur District said, “Often members of the Church do not understand. They think they can find a record, bring it to us and we can complete the record on that individual. We guide them and do the best we can, but they must invest in their family history if they would find the stories of their family. They must be motivated to learn and complete the information.”

Each individual should strive to produce “a book containing the records of our dead, which shall be worthy of all acceptation.” D&C 128:24

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