In the 19th century, factors such as war and famine in China and the needs of newly industrializing countries for cheap labour drove many Chinese abroad. Many went as sojourners, expecting to reside only temporarily in foreign countries. In fact, large numbers of sojourners settled overseas, establishing Chinese communities in many foreign countries. In some cases, there was re-migration, as families settled in one country, and subsequently migrated again, to Canada or another country.
This section suggests book titles and links which may be helpful in exploring the history of Chinese communities outside Canada and China. For Chinese history and genealogy in the United States, see our separate Chinese-American Genealogy page.
The Chinese diaspora has been studied extensively and a large amount of information on Chinese communities overseas is available. Useful books on this subject include:
Individual accounts of Chinese who migrated to foreign countries or were born outside China provide interesting and potentially useful insights into the experience of Chinese sojourners and settlers abroad. The following library materials explore the Chinese overseas experience through personal stories:
Being Chinese: Stories from the Diaspora (2003)
Stories of individuals of Chinese origin living in the U.S., Australia, Cuba, Malaysia, Germany, Canada, Zimbabwe, India, New Zealand, Philippines, The Netherlands, Peru, Indonesia, U.K., Singapore, and Mexico.
Chinese Restaurants (2005)
5 DVDs explore the Chinese diaspora through the stories of Chinese restaurants in Israel, South Africa, Turkey, Mauritius, Trinidad, Cuba, Madagascar, Norway, Canada, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, and India.
While genealogical information for North America, the British Isles and Europe is extensively available in microfilm, print and electronic format, access to genealogy resources for other countries is more challenging.
An excellent survey article on overseas Chinese genealogical research (available through interlibrary loan) is "Sources on Overseas Chinese Studies: Genealogical Records" by Sheau-yueh J. Chao (Library Collections, Acquisitions, & Technical Services (vol. 30 no. 1/2, March/June 2006, p. 18-49).
The following websites may be helpful:
A huge portal pointing to genealogy-related resources worldwide, including many links to online databases of genealogical information. It is important to note that information relating to individuals of Chinese origin may be minimal or difficult to find, as early Chinese communities were often transient and not as well documented as other communities.
Website of the Genealogical Society of Utah. The site includes a link to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, which has a vast collection of genealogical records and related useful information on microfilm. Search the online Family History Library Catalogue to identify materials of possible interest.