Library displays revolutionaries' genealogy books

The revolutionists include Mao Zedong, He Shuheng, Chen Tanqiu, Liu Shaoqi, Xu Xiangqian, Yun Daiying, Yang Kaihui, Peng Dehuai and Hu Yaobang.
Dong Jun / SHINE

The displayed genealogy of Mao Zedong includes 22 books and was compiled in 1941 by the chairman’s teacher and cousin, Mao Zeqi.

Genealogy books of nine famous Communist revolutionaries, including Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi, are on display at an exhibition at Shanghai Library.

The revolutionaries include three of the 13 representatives of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China — Mao Zedong, He Shuheng and Chen Tanqiu — as well as six proletarian revolutionaries — Liu Shaoqi, Xu Xiangqian, Yun Daiying, Yang Kaihui, Peng Dehuai and Hu Yaobang.

These rare books contains records of family relationships, life stories of family members, as well as family rules and some local historical details.

Shanghai Library has more than 300,000 original volumes of genealogy, giving it the largest collection of its kind in China. The library provided genealogies of six figures, while those of Mao, He and Chen were provided by noted Chinese genealogy collector Li Shuangjie, who possesses more than 20,000 genealogy volumes.

The displayed genealogy of Mao Zedong, the founding chairman of the People’s Republic of China, includes 22 books and was compiled in 1941 by the chairman’s teacher and cousin, Mao Zeqi.

Only 135 copies of this version were published, and only four complete copies survive today, according to Li, who added that he spent six years tracking down all of the Mao genealogy books.

He Shuheng was 45 years old when he attended the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China on July 23 of 1921 in Shanghai. He was also the oldest representative present at this historic meeting.

After the congress, He returned to his home in Ningxiang County, central China’s Hunan Province, to resume compiling a genealogy of his family. He finished his compilation, which included 38 books in total, in the winter of 1921.

Displayed materials show that his original name was He Qixuan, and his wife surnamed Yuan had given birth to two sons and four daughters.

The genealogy also shows that he adopted a son of his elder brother as both of his own sons died at young ages. In the past, many believed he adopted his younger brother’s son.

“The genealogy was compiled by He Shuheng himself and thus is more convincing,” said Li.

Another common mistake corrected by the book was the surname of his eldest son-in-law. Scholars used to say it was Wang, but He wrote in the genealogy that it was Wu.

Unlike the genealogies of Mao and He, which mostly contain factual information on family members, that of Chen Tanqiu contains detailed records of family rules and his own understanding on them, and is thus a rich source of information.

“Chen’s great grandfather, grandfather and father all participated in the compilation of their genealogy and they regarded family rules as very important in the transmission of clan culture,” said Li.

The genealogy also contained an article, written by one of Chen’s brothers, which says that the fifth eldest brother, Chen Shusan, was one of the leaders in the Nanchang Uprising in August 1927.

Li donated digital versions of genealogies of the three revolutionary families to the Shanghai Library at the opening of the exhibition on Friday.

The exhibition is open free to the public from 9am to 4pm from Monday to Saturday. It concludes on August 2.

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