California History Center/Chinese Immigration

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Chinese Immigration

We are tentatively planning to have an exhibit (or part of it) here next school year (Fall 2010) on Chinese Americans in the US and their efforts to fight for inclusion in US society. Much of it will focus on California. While this not firm yet, we are working with the Chinese Historical Society in San Francisco. Start a bibliography with some information to go along with it, as we could use that.

To focus this a little since this area and issue is quite immense in scope, gather information about this issue pertaining to the Santa Clara Valley.

  • Earliest Chinese Immigration
  • Gold Rush
  • Agriculture
  • Silicon Valley boom
  • Politics

Earliest Chinese Immigration

.. these need links to the source of this information

The earliest Chinese immigrants who arrived in the 1830's and 40's were actually students going to attend school on the east coast. Back then it was only a 'trickle'. -CM

Yung Wing is the first known documented Chinese immigrant. He came here to be trained as a missionary. His stay in America was suppose to be short, but once it came time to return back to China he didn't want to leave. So Yung Wing graduated from Yale in 1854. When he went for his citizenship there were no complications or red tape. -CM

Yung may have been the first, but he was not going to be the last Chinese immigrant to come to America. -CM

Most or nearly all of the earliest immigrants came from Guangdong in southern China. Most left home back then due to civil war, famine, and flooding. And most of the men who left only said that they would be gone for 10 years or so, long enough to make enough money and return to their families and villages as heroes. -CM

Most of the Immigrants arrived to America after passing through Angel Island -CM

Gold Rush 

Based on old legends, a merchant named Chum Ming was the first to hear about gold being found in the Mountains of California. From then on the Chinese both at home in the villages of China and abroad would come to know California as Gam Saan or Gold Mountain. -CM

In the early 1850's even though the Chinese were welcomed by Mayor Geary of San Francisco as "The Celestial Men of Commerce", the Chinese stuck together as a group. Unlike the white Americans who believed in every man for himself. -CM

These groups of Chinese would band together based on villages, dialect, and clan names. Called Huiguans they were groups that organized it so new arrivals could get settled in. Later on these groups would come to be known as The Six Companies-CM

As the gold was quickly being discovered, the mines became empty much to the disappointment of white Americans who quickly turned their anger and frustration on to the Chinese or as they were known, "John Chinaman". -CM

To get away from all the anger and threats, the Chinese moved onto helping construct the Transcontinental Railroadfor which would not exist had it not been for them. -CM

Just like when all the gold was dug up there was much uproar from the white communities that Chinese were putting hard working Americans out of work and they were not going to stand for it. At the same time affluent whites did not want to dismiss their chinese nannies and grounds help. All because most Chinese at that time did the jobs that Americans didn't want and were willing to put in longer hours and for less money. -CM

After a series of violent acts and taxes aimed only at the Chinese the final measure left resulted on May 6, 1882 with the passing and signing of The Chinese Exclusion Act by President Chester A. Aurthur. -CM

The Exclusion of all Chinese and Asians would be held in place until President Franklin D. Roosevelt repealed the act on December 17, 1943 -CM

Chinese Exclusion Act- passed in 1882. The purpose is to inhibit the Chinese from success. Because of this law, the population in U.S fell to a lowly 62.000 people in 1920. -CM

= Politics =

Gary Locke was the first and only Chinese American state governor in history. Locke was born on January 21, 1950 in seattle , washington.

Stories and Visuals

The following documents Robert Hong's return to Angel Island for the reopening of the immigration station. Also his retelling of what it was like back in 1936: -CM

Chapter 1 -CM

Chapter 2 -CM

Chapter 3 -CM

The following are stories from individuals who were detainees on the island: -CM

1921- Robert Fon Yee -CM

1928- Wing Young -CM

1938- Harman Guan Wu -CM

A Photo Archive from Angel Island. -CM


Committee of 100 is a nonprofit organization helping to foster relations between China and The United States and within local communities -CM

The Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles, California -CM

Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and Learning Center -CM

Learn More...

A Documentary following the Chinese immigration to today Becoming American: The Chinese Experience -CM

Wikipedia: Chinese American History -CM

Some interesting facts: Waves of Chinese Immigration -CM

The Chinese in California 1850-1925 -CM

A History of Chinese Americans in California The 1850's -CM

Immigration: The Chinese -CM [1]-cm