Threads of Kinship is a study of Chinese families in 19th and early 20th-century New South Wales. Often thought of as a society of bachelors, the early NSW Chinese community in fact included many families made up of men and women of Chinese, white European, Aboriginal and mixed heritage. Threads of Kinship will document their number and location, providing a broad picture of early NSW Chinese families for the first time.
In many accounts of Chinese life in the Australian colonies, the predominantly male character of the Chinese population has been taken as evidence of an absence of family life. The work of many family historians and other researchers over the past two decades suggests, however, the large extent to which Chinese men in Australia did form intimate relationships, marry, father children and live as part of family units.
But there are still many unanswered questions. Exactly how many Chinese families were there? How many marriages? How many families included migrant Chinese women? How many Chinese and part-Chinese children were born? Where did these families live? And how did their numbers change over time?
Threads of Kinship sets out to provide data that could answer these and other questions, by initially collating personal information from NSW birth and marriage records. The project is being run by Dr Kate Bagnall.
How you can help
Threads of Kinship is in its very early stages. At the moment I am compiling an intial dataset of information extracted from the published birth, death and marriage indexes. In time this database will be published on this website. The next stage will then be to add further data collected from full birth and marriage registrations. The project is being undertaken in a very part-time capacity, but in the future I’ll be looking for help from genealogists, community historians and family members to transcribe information from records in their hands into the database.
At this point, I would welcome copies of any NSW birth and marriage certificates to help build up the intial data set. I am specifically interested in Chinese births and marriages in New South Wales up until 1918. All contributions will be acknowledged.
For the purposes of this study, a ‘Chinese birth’ is one where either parent is of Chinese or part-Chinese heritage. A ‘Chinese marriage’ is one where husband or wife is of Chinese or part-Chinese heritage.
Send transcriptions or scanned certificates (.jpg format preferred) to: threadsofkinship AT gmail DOT com.
Send hard copy certificates to: Dr Kate Bagnall, PO Box 7160, Watson ACT 2602, Australia
Or just drop me a line and let me know you’re interested.