Indexed Korean Historical Genealogy Records

There are a wealth of scanned records available nowadays for Korean genealogical research.  However, finding indexed and searchable records is a bit more difficult.  Fortunately, there have been some recent advancements.

An amazing project on GitHub includes searchable text file versions of some historical Korean records.  The project is called “JoSeon MunKwa”:  JoseonMunkwa .  The project page includes links to the original sources and has downloadable text files in the data directory.  The project code attempts to take on difficult tasks that challenge people researching Korean genealogy, such as addressing multiple people with the same name and people with multiple names.  The historical record scope includes:

– Munkwa Bangmok (문과 방목) (civil service roster data, including 14638 people from 1392 to 1897).  AKS did some of the original reasearch on this file.

– Annals of the Joseon Dynasty (조선왕조실록) (A.K.A. Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty) (183 books covering 472 years of Joseon history kept by the rulers).  This history website explores the indexed records in detail: The Veritable Records of the Joseon Dynasty

– Joseon Family Relations (ManSeongDaeDongBo 만성대동보) (A list of prominent people and their clan lineage including founding clan members).  Online searchable record: Josean Lineage Network Information System (LNIS) based on the ManSeongDaeDongBo (The Comprehensive collection of family lineage)

3 thoughts on “Indexed Korean Historical Genealogy Records

  1. I’m trying to find information regarding my daughter’s grandparents: Gin Sul Maeang and Young Soo Gi. They are both deceased and they lived in Tae Gu. Their son is Han Seob Maeang who now lives in New York. Would I need to hire a genealogist? If so, how much would that cost in US dollars? Thank you.
    Denise Maeang Curran

    • In my experience, it is hard for a genealogist to find records on living or recently deceased Koreans unless you are a close family member due to strict privacy laws and practices. Once you get back several generations, many records are available online but typically are scanned but not indexed, so online text based searches normally aren’t an option for the older records but spending lots of time going thru hundreds or thousands of scanned pages typically is an option with mixed results due to gaps in records. Often the record gaps are due to the chaos during the Korean War, etc. In this case, I think your best chance is working with the son in New York to get the records — especially if he still has South Korean citizenship and a South Korean national ID number. If he has that he may even be able to request family registry records online containing lots of information about his parents and likely even his grandparents. However, only close family can request those records about themselves and their direct ancestors for a couple generations. That family registry document would contain the clan name and grandfather’s name, which could be used to find tons more genealogy typically going back along paternal lines to the 1600’s or earlier if the clan has an online JokBo that is scanned and available (many of them are) if you are interested in tracing the genealogy way back.

    • FYI about the family name and available older records:

      Maeang is not a common family name (맹 in HanGul Korean alphabet and 孟 in HanJa Chinese characters).

      There are a couple of clans with that surname:
      – Clan originally founded at SinChang: 신창맹씨(新昌孟氏) SinChang Maeng Sshi 5631 households / 18147 individuals in the 2000 A.D. South Korean census
      – Clan originally founded at OnYang: 온양맹씨(溫陽孟氏) OnYang Maeng Sshi 591 households / 2034 individuals in the 2000 A.D. South Korean census

      The larger SinChang clan has some scanned JokBo genealogy records available online at:

      These records were updated in 1929, 1933, 1937, and 1989. These are incredible records that contain family histories, photos of artifacts and paintings, maps to mountainside burial mounds, and paternal genealogical records on individuals going all the way back to the clan founder many, many generations ago. There is a chance that the grandparents could be found by searching thru the pages of the multi-volume 1989 scanned records — if you’re lucky. The first step would be to try to convert the names from the Romanized version you provided to HanGul… You are actually quite lucky that the 1989 version has HanGul versions of names in addition to the HanJa versions — that makes this search so much simpler. Granted, there are thousands of scanned pages to manually search thru, but at least that option exists. Sometimes its hard to get the right HanGul spelling just off the Romanized version… HanGul given name spelling options include:

      Han-Seob: 한섭, 한습
      Gin-Sul: 긴술, 긴설, 긴슬
      Gi Young-Soo: 기영수, 기용수

      Most Korean clans or branches of clans have designated generational naming patterns that help you identify what generation a male is from. Not everyone follows that naming convention, but when they do it really helps you narrow down where to look in the scanned records so that you don’t have to thru 100% of the pages searching for the names above.

      Surname / Clan information:

      Family history summary:

      Family history, including part of the generational naming pattern mentioned above:

      – Note that Seob (섭) is one of the given name syllables that designates the 22nd generation of the SinChang Maeang clan. That would be a great place to start looking for Han-Seob. It looks like if that is a correct path that his father’s given name didn’t follow the generational naming pattern for generation 21 (Sun 순)… If it had it would have been really strong evidence of what generation to focus on, but they didn’t both match up so it is just a reasonable place to start but it could be any generation if they both didn’t end up following the pattern.

      Family clan information:

      This has a more complete version of the generational naming pattern table and some family history and facts. It looks like the SinChang clan descended from a Chinese prince. The family was well educated and had many honors. There are several major branches of the family. They served in key roles during the JoSeon Dynasty under King SeJong. Family records go back at least to the 1300’s A.D.

      The more complete generational naming table here is useful. It shows that Sul (순) is part of the 21st generation and Seob (섭) is part of the 22nd generation. For both a father and son to follow the generational naming pattern like that is a good clue and shows us exactly which generations to focus on in the online scanned records!!! yay. What a fortunate and time-saving clue. Look for HanSeob (spelled 한섭) in the 22nd generation. The HanJa version of Seob (섭) will be 燮 if they followed the table. Look for Gin-Sul (and his wife Gi Young-Soo or her father) in the 21st generation. If they followed the table Sul (술) will have the HanJa character 述 and the given name in HanGul to search for will be 긴술. yay! the generational naming table gave us confidence that we found the right clan, gave us a clue about which generations to search for in the JokBo, and furthermore helped us narrow down the correct HanGul spelling for the given names to search for and gave us one of the HanJa characters in each of the given names to search for. That’s quite a good start.
      This site focuses on a preserved family history site for the clan! It would be amazing to visit… It was officially designated as Historic Site No 109. It was where one of the influential and prominent family ancestors lived and studied and even played a traditional flute in ASan. This family member is likely also included in the official king’s history of Korea during the JoSeon dynasty. There is also a 600 year old tree there… and amazing preserved architecture and family home. It includes the family temple, a pagoda, etc. It’s really quite amazing how much of this family’s history is so well preserved in such a beautiful setting. The royal links and family historical prominence also had a lot to do with why the genealogy was so well preserved.
      Here are photos of a preserved 1675 A.D. version of the family’s genealogical records.

      Are you interested in the ancient genealogy of this family and finding the genealogical line from the grandparents back to the family founder and possibly even linking that to ancient Chinese royalty genealogy? What are your goals in searching for this genealogy?


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