Rooting out one's family history online

Its registered users worldwide have created nearly 20 million family trees containing more than 2 billion profiles. The pool of user-contributed photos, documents and stories has grown to 45 million.

"We not only want to satisfy people's curiosity about the lives of their ancestors; we also encourage them to preserve and share their current lives with their families and relatives via the Internet. And the records people are keeping now will become a source of inspiration for their descendants decades and hundreds of years later," Shi said.

Han did not find any genealogies rooted in Yangzhou at NLC's website. He said it came as no surprise because he believes genealogies should only be written and passed down by families that contained high officials or noted intellectuals.

Shi said some people paid little attention to their genealogy because they didn't have noteworthy ancestors. However, she believes that every person can be the center of his or her family if he or she started to keep a genealogy. And knowing that what he or she is writing will affect descendants years later will turn the author into a better person today.

Lu, a subscriber of Jiapu.com in Hengyang, in Hunan province, who declined to reveal his full name, said he started to be interested in genealogy after his mother was diagnosed with lung cancer at the end of last year.

"My father passed away years ago. My mother lives in Qinghai province, quite a distance from me. It occurred to me that when my mom dies, the ties of blood between my parents and me will become even weaker. I can't help but ask myself, 'Where did I come from and where am I going?'," Lu said.

It took him two days to find his family genealogy, which he had put aside and forgotten about for years. He was nevertheless baffled by the strange names of ancestors and found it rather dull.

He conducted online research and discovered Jiapu.com. Out of curiosity he downloaded from the website a mobile application program for family trees. He created a family tree and texted it to his relatives. A few minutes later, they were making their own additions to the genealogy.

"It is not material abundance but family love that can dispel loneliness. Life will disappear, yet the blood linkage will endure," Lu said.

Jiapu.com launched another mobile application called "Relative Circles" on March 31, enabling users to extend their family relationships and communicate en masse.

NLC's website plans to complete migration routes for all provided surnames, along with relevant documents such as the geography of the places where the family once lived and information about family memorial halls.

-China Daily/Asia News Network

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