Over the last couple of years I have been working with colleagues to transfer some of the scattered sets of biographical information that I have developed during research projects over the last two decades onto a new platform. The site, China Families, is now live, and still growing. Through various projects I had built up substantial sets of biographical information about men who served in the Shanghai Municipal Police (when developing Empire Made Me), the Chinese Maritime Customs Service (Chinese and foreign staff), and the shipping line China Navigation Co (whilst writing China Bound). An interest in the history of cemeteries and memorialisation amongst treaty port communities in China left me with sets of historic cemetery lists. These have now been combined with lists of civilian internees, neutral European nationals in Japanese-occupied Shanghai, and British government probate records, into a single searchable database. There are at least 60,000 records available. In addition I have developed a list of all the digitised copies of residents’ and business directories that I could find online, and provided guides for looking for men and women who lived in Hong Kong, and in Shanghai.
The sources are diverse. Much of the information comes from archival documents in Shanghai, Nanjing, and in London, from my own research in local newspapers and printed records. Some of the materials used have subsequently been withdrawn from public access, especially material from archives in China. I have also recently published an introduction to the history that underpins this, and set out some of the resources available for those researching their treaty port China family histories (and I identified some that you will not find).
The site is free to use, and requires no registration, and is designed to be useful for historians and genealogists alike, and also sits alongside the Historical Photographs of China platform. Do play around with it, and let me know what you think. I would be interested to know what you find there, and what you do with the information.