Chinese Heritage

A first for the West Midlands, Chinese Lives in Birmingham was created to capture the hidden histories of Birmingham's Chinese community. 

The 15-month long historical project looked at the lives of individual migrants and British Chinese, as well as the development of the Birmingham Chinese community – an integral part of the city's history over the last six decades. 

There are approximately 20,000 ethnic Chinese living in the Greater Birmingham area. Not only was it important to capture all these memories before it's too late, but to also record everything in English – as younger generations of British Chinese may find it difficult to speak, read or write Chinese themselves.

14 volunteers received archive cataloguing and oral history training from the Library of Birmingham, developing heritage skills within the Chinese community. 12 people received further training in interview techniques. Participants then collected 36 oral histories, which now form a permanent archive at Library of Birmingham.

The project created a booklet and exhibition to provide a valuable snapshot of the individual stories and memories collected, and a legacy for future generations.

The Chinese Community Centre has provided a range of social and well-being services to the Chinese community in Birmingham since 1977.

Anna Yim, CEO of the Chinese Community Birmingham, explained: “The project has recorded the development of the Chinese community in Birmingham through different life stories.

“We hope that this is the first of many stages, pending funding, to take the project on further and help allow the Chinese community here to have a voice and be proud of their heritage.”

Visit the British Chinese Heritage Project website for more information.

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