Let’s Talk About….. Chinese Genealogy


True story: My Chinese daughter-in-law asked her father, who was born in China and immigrated to Vancouver, B.C. as a young man, to write the family genealogy. He did. He wrote it in Chinese. And she cannot read Chinese. But she treasurers it nonetheless.

Recently in Washington, a bill was passed to honor Americans of Chinese descent in January. The bill designates January as Chinese Descent History Month. This was planned to honor Americans of Chinese descent and their contributions to Washington state. Does your Society have something planned to honor those of Chinese ancestry in your community?

The FamilySearch Library (formerly Family History Library) in Salt Lake City, has been preserving records of Chinese families since the 1980s and is currently houses the largest collection of such records in the world. If you (like me) have a Chinese ancestor or relative, the FamilySearch Library is THE place for you to start digging into their history. (After talking to them, of course!


But I recently (April 2023) read a post by Huang Wei on the Voices & Opinion blog stating that the Shanghai Library (Shanghai, China) “is home to arguably the world’s top collection of Chinese genealogies, including more than 300,000 volumes of nearly 40,000 different genealogies, totaling 456 surnames.” 


A Chinese genealogy is a historical document that records (1) the lineage of a blood line descended from a single ancestor, (2) the blood relationship between family members, and (3) a family’s assets and customs. Sadly, one thing they do not typically include are records pertaining to female members of the family.


If you’d enjoy reading Huang Wei’s entire post, click to https://www.sixthtone.com/news/1012694

Let’s Talk About….. Serious Stuff

Why does this joke make us laugh? Aren’t we like the disbelieving lady clerk, smirking at the poor fellow’s lack of knowledge?

At a recent EWGS Fall Seminar, I chatted with many of our marvelous members. Many of these members would classify themselves as “no longer spring chickens.” (Me among them!) But I was dismayed and saddened to chat with more than one senior genealogist who was struggling with “what SHALL I do with all the genealogy stuff I’ve collected??”

As a group, they offered the usual excuses: Don’t know what to do, don’t know where to start, don’t have time, don’t have interested family, not computer literate, “it’s just too overwhelming.”

I did understand. I was sympathetic. I did offer my one-on-one help. Hopefully some will take me up on that offer.

But bottom line:

  • YOU collected the stuff
  • YOU must so something with all of the stuff
  • Yes, it is terribly sorry that you didn’t do this earlier…
  • Do you really want all the stuff of your years’ work to go to recycling?
  • Chances are near 90% sure that if YOU don’t do something with all that stuff, nobody else will. 
  • No, your gene society doesn’t want it; the FamilySearch Library doesn’t want it; and your grandchildren surely DO NOT want boxes and binders of papers!!
  • And it’s patently unfair of YOU to expect that they will. 
  • YOU collected the stuff. 

Does this sad scenario have to be inevitable for you?? Don’t you want to leave a legacy and not a mess? There is an answer, I promise. Here’s how:

  • DECIDE to DO something
  • MAKE TIME to DO something
  • MAKE IT A PRIORITY
  • Ask for help………. your friends, EWGS folks
  • Ask me! I’ll happily come to you to help you get organized and started…

Started on what, do you ask? Getting all your information from those boxes and binders of paper into a computer database. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY. Believe me, that is the only way to leave your computer-oriented posterity a legacy. Think about it.

((** I posted this to my society, Eastern Washington Gen Soc, while I can come help one-on-one. Obviously you likely live too far away for me to personally come help. BUT I’m 100% sure there are your friends in your gene society who would come to help you. Just ask.)

Let’s Talk About….. ShipIndex.org

 Never heard of ShipIndex? Well happy January gift to you!

Founder Peter McCracken and his team, based in Ithaca, New York, have created a website offering over 3,000,000 citations (pictures of ships!!) and offers nearly 2000 learning resources. Here is a snip from their Resources page:

I know you cannot really read this but there are over 12 L-O-N-G pages of references for your learning and most of them are free. Subscriptions are $22 for three months; $35 for six months; and $65 for one year. (Gonna have surgery? Gonna need to housesit or stay with a declining relative? Wouldn’t this help you get through those days??) 

ShipIndex.org includes a listing for anything that carried cargo and/or people and sailed under any country’s flag. 

Just for fun, I typed in Titanic, never realizing that there might be other ships with that name:

Royal Titanic (Recreational; Cape Fear, NC; built 1979; 14 gross tons)

So something maybe new for you in 2024….. enjoy and learn!

Let’s Talk About….. Clallam Co Gen Soc & Cattle Brands

The Clallam County (Washington) courthouse, built in 1914, in Port Angeles, is surely one of the most picturesque courthouses in America. I remember being in that building years ago and the women’s restroom stalls had pink marble walls!

The Clallam County Genealogical Society (CCGS) was founded in 1981. In 2020, the group purchased a newer and larger building ……… which they desperately needed to house their library of 3000 books, periodicals and microfilms. If you’re thinking of a trip to Port Angeles, and want to visit their library, know that their entire catalog is accessible online:  www.clallamcogs.org.  

CCGS also maintains  offers an index to the 500 Pioneer Family files…… pioneers who were in Clallam County prior to Washington statehood in 1889. 

The Fall 1988 issue of their society’s periodical (no longer published), there was a great article originally found in a 1945 issue of The Genealogy Magazine of New Jersey. The title was “The Use of Livestock Brands and Earmarks in Genealogy.”

The article states: “The system of marking the ears of cattle and hogs was used in the early days just as cattle brands are employed in the West today. In colonial times, livestock were often allowed to roam freely on the village green. When evening came, the marks were necessary to separate which animals belonged to which owner. The registration of marks was kept by the village clerk and later by the county auditor.

“Such registrations were continued well into the 20th century when vast herds of cattle and sheep roamed the vast acreage of public lands in the West.”

I know that the Eastern Washington Branch of our Washington State Archives has brand books for our state. I’ve looked up the registered brand for hubby’s uncle and VIOLA, there it was. If your Pacific Northwest ancestor had roaming livestock, it’s quite likely that he had a brand and that that brand (or ear mark) was legally registered.

Let’s Talk About…. Women Who Married Aliens Lost Citizenship??

Bet you didn’t know this American history tidbit!

In 1907, Congress passed the Expatriation Act, which decreed, among other things, that U.S. women who married non-citizens were no longer Americans. If their husband later became a naturalized citizen, they could go through the naturalization process to regain their citizenship. 

But none of these rules applied to American men who they chose a spouse. And he wasn’t eligible for citizenship, she could be denied!

WHAT? You’re saying? And rightfully so. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? 

Once American women got the right to vote in 1920, they started lobbying lawmakers, pushing them to recognize that their citizenship should not be tethered to that of a husband.

To shorten the sad story, laws did evolve and by the 1940s women born in the U.S. no longer had to limit their marriage prospects to native-born men or naturalized citizens.

Consider your family tree….. did this “trouble” affect any of your grandmothers??

(Thanks to a 2017 post by Tanya Ballard Brown on the NPR website, Code Switch.)

Let’s Talk About…. Trivia & Jokes


What’s at the end of a rainbow?  (The letter W.)

Did you gift a Slinky for Christmas? This toy was the brainchild of Richard James, a mechanical engineer, who invented it in the 1940s.

What do you get when you cross a cat with a lemon? (A sour puss.)

People who scuba are a divers group of people.

Pet shop customer: “Do any of your dogs go cheap?”  Owner: “Sorry, all our dogs go woof.”

Proper listening is the foundation of proper living. (Plutarch)

Dalmatian puppies are born without spots? T or F?  (T)

Why are income taxes due on April 15th…the same day the Titanic went down?

If swimming if so good for your figure, why do whales look the way they do?

Why is it called baby-sitting when all you do is run after them?

Let’s Talk About: Don’t Get “Antsy!”

Well, it’s the final blog post for 2023 and what better to share than a word puzzle. You’ll find all kinds of “ants” in the dictionary. Here are 14 words that end with “ant”….. like elephant. Have fun! (Answers at the bottom.)

  • What ant helps to put out fires?
  • What ant is found in car engines?
  • What ant reminds you of puff pastries?
  • What ant smells nice?
  • What ant pours wine?
  • What ant buys and sells?
  • What ant is worn on a chain?
  • What ant makes the air dirty?
  • What ant provides all kinds of food?
  • What ant is dull and never goes anywhere?
  • What ant hates school?
  • What ant is good with numbers?
  • What ant is the smartest?
  • What ant never changes?

(1-hydrant;  2-coolant;  3-croissant;  4-deodorant;  5-decant;  6-merchant;  7-pendant;  8-pullutant;  9-restaurant;  10-stagnant;  11-truant;  12-accountant;  13-brilliant;  14-constant.)

Let’s Talk About: Washington’s Wildlife Refuges

We Washingtonians are so lucky…… we have 23 National Wildlife Refuges in our state! These are places dedicated to preserving, conserving and enhancing the flora and fauna of an area by means of managing the land and water for fish, wildlife and plants. And for we human visitors too!

The list below the image is probably too small for you to read, but just ask Google for “National Wildlife Refuges in Washington.” Then any time of year, put on your walking shoes, put a granola bar in your backpack along with your water bottle and camera and go out and explore your world.

Keep in mind that on these refuges you can better imagine what your ancestors first saw when they arrived into XXX place. 

What are the benefits of a national wildlife refuge?Beyond their primary mission of conserving and enhancing land and water for fish, wildlife and plants, national wildlife refuges are important in other ways. They offer healthy, world-class outdoor recreation. They improve air and water quality across the nation.

Let’s Talk About: Fun Facts & Trivia

Bet you didn’t know that Washington State has its own tartan. The symbolic colors are: GREEN for our Evergreen State; BLUE for our rivers, lakes and the ocean; WHITE for snow capped mountains; RED for all the fruit; YELOW for all the grains; and BLACK for Mt.St.Helens.  This tartan was adopted by the Washington State legislature in 1991. Now you know.

Here’s one for you geography buffs:  How many state capitols are located west of Los Angeles?? (tiny answer at the bottom)

Ever watch the TV or YouTube show with Mike Rowe where he visits interesting places? In one video, Mike visited the Hair Museum in Independence, Missouri (near Kansas City). Museum owner and director, Leila, made Mark incredulously laugh many times. “Hair can be black, brown, red, blonde or white….there is no gray!” she quipped.  The museum features hair pictures…. tableaus made from hair, often of a deceased loved one. “This custom dates back to the 12th century,” Leila said. One question on Mark’s mind was this: “Does human hair keep growing after death?” The answer? “No way!”

Tampa Bay Times, October 2022: “Florida lawyer who fought helmet laws died in motorcycle crash not wearing one.” Humm. Serves him right?

How do you feel about this? An original copy of the U.S. Constitution, one of only two known to be in private hands, will be auctioned off in December with bidding estimated to go as high as $30 million, Sotheby’s announced (in November 2022). 500 first printings were made of this historic document and were provided to participants at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Nearly all have been lost to history; of the 13 known to have survived, 11 are owned by governments and institutions.

((Answer to above question:  SIX!!  Carson City, Nevada;  Honolulu, Hawaii; Juneau, Alaska; Olympia, Washington; Sacramento, California; and Salem, Oregon.  HOW MANY DID YOU GUESS?)

Let’s Talk About: Envelopes!

Rummaging through the wheeled racks of books at the Goodwill Outlet Store, I happened upon a slim little volume titled The History of Envelopes, by Robert H. Ramage, published by the Envelope Manufacturers Association of America in 1952. 

Only a genealogist would think to grab up a book on the history of envelopes!

Author Ramage begins his book with this bit:  “The little paper enclosure which we term “envelope” sustains such an important relation to our social, commercial, political, and moral world as to render it eminently worthy of notice a our hands. It has now become the vade mecum of thought transportation—-crossing seas, threading rivers, chasing up railways, exploring the solitary paths of the forest and plains, pursing expresses and telegraphic messengers; it is almost everywhere doing, for rich and poor alike, its good offices and trusty services.”  Quote in Cosmopolitan Art Journal, 1860. 

Remember that in 1860 there was no telephone and certainly no interest/email. Writing on paper and sent in envelopes was The Only way to communicate over distance. 

Ramage continues:  “No one will ever know who it was that first conceived the idea of cutting paper for envelopes …… but it was no doubt a stationer who sold paper and realized there was a need to be filled. ” 

In 1635, King Charles I issued a proclamation establishing the first State Postal Service.   One of the earliest envelopes on record is attached to a letter written on 16 May 1696 in England. 

The early mail service (in England) was inadequate and expensive. Mail was sent collect with postage paid by the receiver which system was easy to defraud. This ultimately let to the better system of pre-paid postage, or postage stamps.

Further chapters in this 90-page book are: Envelopes in America; First Envelope Machines;  Evolution in Envelope Manufacture; Early Type of Envelopes; Papeteries; Business Envelopes Become Specialized;  Government Stamped Envelopes and the Industry Behind Envelopes. WHEW! Who knew there could be 90 pages of envelope history! 

An envelope history would not be complete without mention of V-Mail, short for Victory Mail “which was a particular postal system put into place during the war (WWII) to drastically reduce the space needed to transport mail thus freeing up room for other valuable supplies. The V-Mail system was only used between June 1942 and November 1945 with over one billion items processed through these means. 

If anybody would like to borrow and peruse this interesting history book, be happy to loan it to you. Just ask me.