This site allows you to search across 60,000 names of men and women who lived, worked or died in China, between the 1850s and 1940s. The information is drawn from ten different sources, and you can search each one of these individually, but you can also search across all of them. There are many Chinese names here, as well as the names of foreign residents.


The records were created during the preparation of books published over the last fifteen years, including most recently Out of China: How the Chinese Ended the Era of Western Domination. They were also created during projects funded by the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust. The list of civilian inmates of Japanese internment camps was shared by colleagues in Taiwan. The records were transcribed from internal lists of staff, from unpublished documents, published directories and other sources.


The aim of this site is to unlock information held in archives and libraries that can assist people to trace the lives of ancestors in China. Some of it is in index form, and the only way to find out more is to visit the archives concerned or to contact them. Other records have more information, although sometimes it is incomplete. It is our hope that the details provided can help you learn where to look for more detailed information and to learn more.


The China Families platform is directed by Robert Bickers, Professor of History at the University of Bristol. A historian of modern China and its foreign relations, he has written about the history of Shanghai, and Hong Kong, and the British experience in China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For more about his work and award-winning writing see his blog and University of Bristol staff page.


China Families acknowledge its gratitude to Grace Di Meo, Sarah Pearson, Emily Griffin and Christopher Allen in particular for their work editing the datasets. We are also grateful for the support of Andrew Wray in the University of Bristol’s Research and Enterprise Development unit who has supported this initiative. The work of developing the site and the datasets was supported by the University of Bristol’s Impact Accelerator Fund and Enterprise & Impact Development Fund. The platform has been developed by the University of Bristol IT Services Research IT group, and I am grateful in particular to Tessa Alexander for her work on it.