A great deal of information about individuals can be found in the English-language newspapers published in Shanghai and other cities. These include: birth, marriage and death notices and reports, passenger lists, trial records and company meetings, sport and society reports, and much more. With very few exceptions, no historic newspapers published in China are available except with subscriptions.


The North China Herald

Published in Shanghai, this can be found in NewspaperArchive and in FindmyPast, but only up to the end of 1926. Fuller runs can only be found through libraries that have taken out subscriptions.


Old Hong Kong newspapers. This is the online, open to all, Hong Kong Libraries platform for its digitised newspapers. This is both a rich resource and a terrible platform. Rich because it holds a large number and wide range of newspapers in English and Chinese; terrible because it cannot be searched efficiently, images cannot be downloaded, and it is very inefficient to navigate. However, you can look for dates reasonably easily, and search terms may pick up words in article titles (but not text). The Hong Kong press often republished items from the China press, including notes on births, marriages and deaths. Hint: use the Carl Smith Collection to search for names. The cards very often refer to the newspaper where the information Smith copied was found. Use this search function. You’ll find them referenced as eg DP (Hongkong Daily Press), HKT (Hongkong Telegraph), etc. You can then browse to the date on this platform and page through the newspaper. While you cannot download pages, you can use screen capture to make copies.


Israel’s Messenger

Published in Shanghai by the Shanghai Zionist Federation, a 1904-34 run of poor quality scans of Israel’s Messenger in downloadable PDF format is available from the website Jewish Communities of China.


The London and China Telegraph

Published in London, this newspaper reprinted items from the China, Hong Kong and Japan press, that came in the mail from Asia. It also includes passenger lists and news about China-related events in Britain. This last has been adapted from the Families in British India Society China sources wiki. There are two versions available on Google Books, the second set below comes from the Wason Collection at Cornell University (which has also placed a lot of its East Asia collections on Archive.org.)


1860, 1861, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874: Jan-June; 1874: July-Dec, 1875, 1877

Wason Collection: 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874 Jan. to Dec. , 1875 Jan. to Dec., 1875 Jan. to Oct.



Shanghai Evening Post & Mercury


This is a New York edition of the Shanghai newspaper, published during the Japanese occupation and after. Digitised by Columbia University, the years 1934-46 available via Archive.org.




The press in Singapore also republished items from the China press, including notes on births, marriages and deaths. The Singapore National Library Board’s newspaper platform NewspapersSG can be searched online.


The Homeward Mail from India, China, and the East


Published between 1857-1914, and available through the subscription platform British Newspaper Archive, the Homeward Mail contains China-related news items, and passenger lists, including lists of passengers who had booked journeys to Asia on the P&O line. This title can be found within the FindmyPast newspapers subscription as well (which is another way of accessing the  BNA’s database).

You will also potentially find information about China ancestors published in the press in their home locality. Do also try the (freely available) digitised Australian and New Zealand press platforms, as newspapers there also regularly published news items copied from the China press. It was also not uncommon for British China residents to move on to these countries.