The launch of Roots: Tracing Family Histories exhibition



Mrs Elaine Ng, Chief Executive Officer, National Library Board,

Ladies and Gentlemen

               Good evening. I’m delighted to join you at the opening of the National Library’s latest exhibition, ‘Roots: Tracing Family Histories’.

2.            Families are the foundation of our society. They play a nurturing and supportive role during our growing years, in shaping the individuals we have become today. When we form families of our own, we continue to add new chapters to our family’s history. Learning about our roots and family history helps us to understand who we are, how far we have come and instills in us a deeper sense of belonging and identity.

3.           I am heartened to know that the National Library is presenting this exhibition that will inspire us to learn more about our roots. This exhibition follows the journeys of several Singaporean families in tracing their family histories and some of the families featured are here with us today. Delving into personal and official records and sources, these families have researched and uncovered stories about their ancestry. One of the interesting stories I learnt of is from Ms Christine Linda Peeris and her maiden name is Moss. She discovered a road called Moss Avenue, which used to link Serangoon Road and St Francis Road. The road was named after her great-grandfather, Isaac Moss. Another family, Mr Wang Chun Hsu visited his ancestral village in Hainan Island in China and learnt from his clan’s genealogy that his ancestor was a court official from Zhejiang, China, who migrated to Hainan Island. These stories and more also form a part of the collective identity and history of our nation. And indeed for me, it brings back many happy memories of also trying to trace my own family’s history and genealogy while doing a school project. It was many years ago, but indeed it was a very enriching experience, one which I still recall very fondly. By reflecting on our shared experiences, we are able to connect our past to the present.

4.           Visitors will have the opportunity to view over 250 documents and objects, contributed by 17 families and from the collections of the National Library, the National Archives and other institutions. Also on display are genealogy charts from different communities, a birth certificate that dates back to 1896, and even a pre-war marriage certificate which many of us may not have seen before. We also learn how some common family traditions and legacies – such as family businesses, homes, heirlooms and food customs – are kept alive and passed down through the generations.

5.           I hope this exhibition will spark Singaporeans’ interest and inspire us to start researching our own family roots. Those who are interested to trace your family history can tap on the resources available at the National Library and the National Archives of Singapore such as archived newspapers, government gazettes and Genealogy Resource guides, such as the Eurasian Genealogy Resource guide and the Chinese 家谱与族谱. Other valuable resources from agencies include marriage records, birth and death records and even school registers.

6.           I commend the National Library for putting together this very meaningful exhibition. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the families who have generously shared their rich memories and stories with us. I hope Singaporeans will all enjoy the exhibition, and be inspired to trace your own family history, strengthen your family bonds, while writing the next chapter in your family stories. Thank you.

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