Anyone making use of this index will undoubtedly already be aware that a large majority of the Chinese in continental United States are themselves from Toishan District in Kwangtung Province or are the descendants of persons who migrated to the United States from that District. Per se, Toishan District figures in a majority of Chinese fraud cases involving illegal immigration into the United States. It therefore follows that any and all information concerning Toishan District will be most useful in investigating suspected fraud and in determining the veracity of a large number of visa, passport, and federal benefit applications. It is the purpose of this index to add to this fund of knowledge about Toishan District by correlating villages in the district with the clan name of their inhabitants. Villages in Toishan District are small, but numerous — it has been estimated that they number over 4,000 in all — and fortuitously, a large number of these villages are composed wholly of families from the same clan. Thus, all inhabitants born in such a village have the same surname and, of course, would be clansmen if not actually blood relatives.

The information contained in this index has proved to be very useful in processing visa, passport, and federal benefit cases at this Consulate General. Birthplaces of all applicants, and where applicable, of Stateside petitioners as well, are checked against the index to see if the applicants and/or petitioners are using their proper names. In almost all cases where discrepancies were noted, subsequent investigations have verified the existence of fraud. This has also been true in those cases where the subjects or petitioners have claimed birth in one village and then claim to have moved to another village while still quite young. The index has come to be the largest single factor in determining fraud at this post.

How to Use the Index

Toishan District, prior to 1949, was divided by the Nationalist Government of China into ten areas. Each area in turn was divided into smaller jurisdictional groupings of villages (or lays) termed heungs or bos. Some of the smaller heungs have been integrated to form larger heungs, usually referred to as major heungs to differentiate them from their constituent minor heungs. For purposes of easier identification, this index and our files have been assembled according to these groupings. There is no village information available to this office concerning the Fifth Area, and consequently no heungs are listed for it in this subdivision of the Index. To the best of bur knowledge the Fifth Area consists of only two small islands located off the coast of Toishan District — Sheung Chuen and Ha Chuen — and consists of only a few heungs. The Fifth Area, however, has contributed little in the way of immigrants to the United States.

Because of the number of villages in Toishan District and because village names have been duplicated in many heungs it has not been possible to list all of the villages alphabetically at this time. Therefore, to, effectively use the index it is necessary to know the Subject’s heung as well as his village. The heungs and bos are listed alphabetically immediately following this explanation, and by locating a heung in this listing you can determine on which page of the index it is to be found. Should the heung be a minor heung, which is now a part of a larger heung, the name of the major heung will be found in parentheses after the name of the minor heung in the listing. If the heung or bo name cannot be found in the alphabetical listing, and the Chinese characters are known, the STC (Standard Telegraphic Code) index of heungs and bos can be consulted. This listing will be found immediately following that of the alphabetical listing. Both listings are appropriately tabbed.

Once the heung or bo has been located in the index, the finding of the appropriate village is simple. All villages in a heung or bo are listed in three ways — by romanized version of the name, by STC numbers and in the Chinese characters. With each village is listed the clan name of the families occupying the village, also in romanized version, STC numbers and Chinese characters. In those cases where our information indicates that more than one clan name is found in a village, all known clan names are listed. Villages in a heung or bo are listed in all frequently-used version of the name, since some villages have changed names over the years or have acquired different aliases at various times during their development.

All heungs and bos found in the index are keyed to maps of Toishan District which will be found in the tabbed section immediately following the STC Listing of Heungs and Bos. These maps themselves are keyed to the grid coordinates of the U.S. Army Map Service Series covering Kwangtung Province.

In addition to map location, with each heung is also listed the related major or minor heungs and the name of the market in or nearest the heung.

Standardized Romanization of the Toishan Dialect

One of the most formidable problems which developed in compiling this index was determining what might constitute an acceptable standardized form of romanization for the Toishan Dialect. Toishanese itself varies in Toishan District from locality to locality and there is little, if any, actual agreement to be found as to which local form of the dialect might be considered as standard for the district. It therefore became necessary to establish an arbitrary standardized romanization of Toishanese clan and village names. It was decided that the romanized form of each Chinese character used most frequently in our files would be the form used in this index. Character 5591 for example, which can be variously romanized as CHOI, CHOY, TOY, TOI, TSOI, has been standardized as CHOI.


Although the contents of the index are the synthesis of thousands of interviews and the compilation of data from many thousands of visa, passport, and federal benefit applications, it is still far from being definitive. It is the considered opinion of persons who have been working with the index for many years that it does include about 95% of all the villages in Toishan District, but as new applica- tions are reviewed and more investigations conducted locally, the new data obtained should add to its completeness and to its correctness. The index will be reviewed from time to time and as changes are found necessary, amendment notices will be issued to all holders of the index. It is also hoped that in the future, when time and workload permit, an alphabetical listing of all village names and a listing of Toishanese clan marriage-name sequences will be compiled, both of which should prove quite useful in working with the index. Also in the future, this office hopes to compile indices, similar to this one, for Hoiping, Chungshan and Sunwui Districts, thereby covering most of the fraud area. Any suggestions, comments, and especially any information which might be included in this index, are respectfully requested. All such correspondence should be addressed to the Chief, Consular Section, American Consulate General, Hong Kong, Attention: Control Officer, and should be forwarded through official channels.


Grateful acknowledgement is made to the many investigators and clerks, both American and local, who have contributed many, many hours of time and patience in the compilation of this work. This office is also deeply indebted to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has borne the major share in the cost of the publication of this index, and to the General Services Officer at this post who has somehow found the rest of the money necessary to make this publication possible.