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The oral histories and genealogies have long been used by historians, archaeologists, sociologists, ethnologists, and demographers in their investigation of past human behavior on social and historical evidences relating to a lineage organization or a clan. Chinese genealogical records has been used for thousands of years to record the genealogical history of a family, including a family’s origin, its subordinate lines, names and ages of the members, records of marriages, births and deaths, merits and deeds, and in early days brief biographical information of solely the male family members. This paper will examine the history of Chinese names and the genealogical records for jiapu. It details the significance of Chinese names and introduces the types of Chinese names and their meanings, followed by the history and development of surnames, clan names, and generation names. The highlight of paper includes the oral history and genealogy of the Xiangcheng Yuan family tracing to the lineage of Yuan Shikai, the first President of the Republic of China. In this genealogical study, the author examines the genealogical chart of the Yuan family on iron plate (Yuan Shi Tie Pai Jiapu) and the stone tablet in the Yuan Family Chapel (Yuan Shi Jia Miao Bei) based on their value, functions, and importance. The Yuan genealogy was identified as a source for the study of Chinese genealogies in relation to the Chinese polygamy, family structure, demography, economic conditions, generational orders, and social and political studies. The paper ends with the library documentation, preservation, and research in the 21st century focusing on the importance of Chinese family history and genealogical research for jiapu. A selected bibliography about the Yuan Shikai family is included at the end for further readings.

Highlights ● History of Chinese Names and Genealogical Records ● Types of Chinese Names and their Meanings ● Oral History and Genealogy of the Yuan Shikai Family ● Resource and Documentation on Chinese Genealogy ● Library Cooperation and Resource-sharing on Chinese Genealogy


This work was originally published in volume 10, number 4 of Cross Cultural Communication, available at


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