Digitized sources and digital methods are changing the way that we do history. For historians of the British Empire, the digital age offers new possibilities for investigating the lives of those who moved around the empire and across the world. However, much discussion of the possibilities and problems of digital history have focused on the creation and use of full text resources, skipping over the analytical opportunities offered by the descriptive systems in which those texts are embedded. This article is an attempt to fill this gap by documenting a journey through archival data relating to nineteenth-century Chinese naturalization in the Pacific Rim settler colonies of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. We argue that such data stories are critical if we are to understand both possibilities and pitfalls of research in digital collections.