Family History

Getting Started

The beginnings of researching your Chinese Australian heritage will be similar to that for anyone who sets out to research their family history from any ethnicity or background. The general advice from groups like the Society of Australian Genealogists is applicable and useful. You may also find state and local libraries to be full of good general resources. Local family history societies will be similarly useful.

Then what?

However there will be some issues that are peculiar to Chinese Australian historical research. There are specialised tips and hints in the following articles that you should find helpful.

You might also find Chinese Genealogy useful. This forum has a number of participants from Australia and New Zealand.

Want to know more?

Sometimes you just need to talk to someone over a cup of tea (green perhaps) about your latest Chinese Australian research success or brick wall. The Chinese Australian Historical Society has established a Family History Group to encourage and assist those who have an interest in tracing their Chinese ancestry in Australia. Our activities are publicised through the newsletter of the Society and have included a talk at the Sydney Office of the Australian National Archives on the sorts of archival material there that is relevant to family historians and a talk on using probate documents. We also spend time sharing our current research projects.

If you are interested in connecting with the group, please contact Kerry on 0401-993-020 or email the society at

Need encouragement or inspiration?

Not everyone’s Chinese Australian history will be as exciting or interesting as an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? Here is a selection of other stories in various mediums from around Australia.

News sites

Success at finding a lost ancestor reconnecting current day Chinese with ancestors buried in North Queensland.

Retracing Chinese Australian family history and settlement a story from regional NSW

Mak Sai Ying a.k.a. John Shying 

Genealogies and Family Histories

Chinese Ancestors stories of some Chinese Australians in Victoria.

Damper in A Wok a work-in-progress Chinese Australian genealogy.

Flannigan, Alison Choy & Oakes, Malcolm, (author.) & O’Hagan, Denise, (editor.) (2018). Chinese whispers : in search of ivy : a gold rush story told by generations of an Australian-Chinese family. Black Quill Press, Sydney, [New South Wales]