15:39 PM

Researching Asian Ancestry Is Becoming Easier

Thanks to Those Like Derek Dobson


While Derek Dobson served a proselyting mission in Hong Kong from 1985 to 1986, he posed for a photo on a hillside overlooking the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Even with his love of the Chinese people and fluency in the language, Derek could not have guessed what powerful ties he would weave over his lifetime with people scattered throughout Asia and the Pacific.

Derek obtained his bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from Brigham Young University with a minor in Mandarin. He then proceeded to work in Hong Kong as a country manager for WordPerfect and Novell and eventually pursued an MBA in international business. He currently serves as a customer experience manager at FamilySearch with an emphasis in Asian ancestry. His team is presently working on making the website more culturally authentic and inviting for people from all over the world to use FamilySearch’s services and to feel comfortable sharing their information with FamilySearch. Derek explains, “It’s all about trust and willingness to share their data with us.” 

Chinese and Korean people have gathered and maintained family records over many generations. The Chinese collections, known as jiapu, are generally maintained by clans, which can be massive in size—millions of people. 

 Indexing is a volunteer transcription effort that makes genealogical records freely searchable online. “The power of indexing drives part of our searching, matching, and hinting we now have on FamilySearch,” Derek explains. Because of indexing, the number of vital records available on FamilySearch continues to increase. Yet it is the personal impact of this effort that gives Derek a sense of satisfaction.