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Chinese-Canadian Genealogy

Resources for Canadians of Chinese origin who wish to learn more about their personal connection to Chinese-Canadian history.


At the Vancouver Public Library

Chinese Names: The Traditions Surrounding the Use of Chinese Surnames and Personal Names (1997)
Ref. 929.4 J78c

  • This book offers a very detailed study of the history and meanings of Chinese surnames and common personal names. Several lists of names are included in the appendices.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 3 vols. (2004)
Ref. 929.403 D55h

  • Introductory material includes useful essays on names from different ethnic traditions, including "Chinese Family Names" by Mark Lewellen (pages cii-cv). The essay explores spelling, history, use in the United States, and romanization. The bulk of the book comprises a listing of family names, including those of Chinese origin.

In Search of Your Asian Roots: Genealogical Research on Chinese Surnames (2000)
Chao, Sheau-Yueh J.
Ref. 929.351 C46i

  • This detailed reference book includes three major chapters. The first describes history, origins, research, and changes related to Chinese surnames. The second chapter provides a genealogical analysis of popular Chinese surnames, and the third comprises a lengthy annotated bibliography on the subject. Also included are a Glossary and Chronology of Chinese history, Pinyin to Wade-Giles Conversion Table, and Family Name, Stroke Number, and Author / Title indexes.

Success with Asian Names: A Practical Guide for Business and Everyday Life (2007)
Price, Fiona Swee-Lin
929.4 P945s

  • This reference guide provides names from 14 Asian languages and provides specific naming customs, typical names in each language, practical advice on pronunciation, and the proper way to address people.

Your Chinese Roots: The Overseas Chinese Story (1987)
Tan, Thomas Tsu-wee
929.351 T16y

  • This book includes a section "About Surnames and Their Origins". Forty-seven names are discussed in detail. An accompanying map matches each surname with its province of origin.

At the University of British Columbia Library

"Genealogical Resources on Chinese Names: An Annotated Bibliography of English and Chinese Language Titles."
Journal of East Asian Libraries (no. 109, June 1996, p. 21-50)
Chao, Sheau-yueh J.

  • This article comprises an extensive annotated bibliography of English and Chinese publications related to Chinese names. Includes materials covering the period between 1980 and 1995, as well as important works of historical value pubilshed before 1980.


Relevant websites include those providing background information on the structure and origins of Chinese names, as well as sites with lists of Chinese surnames.

Chinese Surnames (Chinese Characters and Culture)

Chinese Name (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)

List of Common Chinese Surnames (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia)