My parents are Taiwanese and are reluctant to share or do not know much family history. Much of the information they do share is vague or does not lend itself to searching on the internet using sites designed for American/European genealogy and data.

How can I get more useful information out of my parents to help provide more information that I can use for searching genealogy records? What kind(s) of information or questions would be helpful for me to ask? Are there online records that can be searched using Chinese characters, and if so, how do I type Chinese names?

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    Thank you for your response! I can further clarify that part of the issue with talking with one side of my family in particular is that due to political or cultural biases, they are sometimes unwilling to provide information about certain family members, or will potentially "twist" their family history to fit a certain narrative. The responses to "How do I encourage older folk to provide information" seem relevant, but I'm still not sure how to get around political/cultural biases that shape the story of one side of my family. There are also some members that they refuse to talk about.
    – Flora Su
    Jun 22, 2020 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


I think your solution will need to consist of several plans, probably executed concurrently:

  • Interview as many living relatives as you can -- they can't all have exactly the same knowledge or attitudes. The information on individuals may be inconsistent, but, just like many apocryphal family stories, there will be nuggets of truth. If there are written sources like letters or diaries, include them in your research.
  • Find primary and non-subjective records -- official records of all types. Start with documents found at home. Use the genealogy websites (FamilySearch.org and ancestry.com, which has a Chinese affiliate), but, depending on access and expense, you will eventually have to look at non-digitized records at archives. Learn what records were generated and what was preserved.
  • Educate yourself on the history and geography of your ancestral regions. Start general, but get as specific as you can. Include the recent history that influenced your living relatives' attitudes. Books and websites and even blogs can be helpful, or take courses.

Record who told you what, and where you found which data. You'll want to be able to judge reliability and probably to re-examine details.


Your question is very broad but when starting to investigate genealogy and family history in a new country a great place to look is the FamilySearch Research Wiki:

  • Thank you for the commentary - I am new and wasn't sure how to phrase my question. I've clarified it a bit more, though now I fear I may be asking too many questions in a single question. With respect to online records, one problem I have is I don't know where I can search Chinese names. I see that Family Search does allow for inputting names in languages other than Englis, so thank you for providing that resource.
    – Flora Su
    Jun 22, 2020 at 11:13

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