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Chinese Labor Contractors: Examples from Pacific Northwest

Chinese Labor Contractors: Examples from Pacific Northwest | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
John Jung's insight:

In contrast to what we know about Chinese laundrymen, restaurant owners, and grocers, relatively little has been written about the Chinese labor contractors who served as "middle men" between white enterprises seeking large supplies of cheap Chinese labor and these immigrants. This excellent resource provides a valuable glimpse into their operations and vital role in the history of Chinese immigrants.


"Becoming a contractor for Chinese labor must have been the ambition of many Chinese immigrants.  That was where the big money was.  Most Chinese who became truly wealthy in North America before the 1950s acquired much of their wealth through labor contracting: by hiring Chinese laborers and arranging with (usually) white employers for those laborers to do a set amount of work for a fixed sum of money, the wages and board of individual laborers to be paid by the contractor rather than the employer."  

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Chinese American history
Websites related to the history of Chinese in North America
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Two Curated Collections of Websites on Chinese American History, Past and Present

updated link:  http://chineseamericanhistorian.blogspot.com

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A brief guide to my 2 curated collections of websites on Chinese American history, past and present, on Scoop.It, and how to search the collection by keyword topics by typing the term in the

FUNNEL-looking icon in the upper right corner of this page next to suggestions.

 

(The previous method of using the FILTER window has been eliminated)

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The Lawyer Who Beat Back a Racist Law, One Loophole at a Time - Who We Were - Zócalo Public Square

The Lawyer Who Beat Back a Racist Law, One Loophole at a Time - Who We Were - Zócalo Public Square | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Recent politics is full of debates about erecting walls on the U.S.-Mexican border or barring Muslims from entering the U.S. But excluding groups of immigrants based on a particular background is nothing new—though the targets may change. It was in 1882 that Congress, for the first time in the history of the United States, passed legislation to prevent a specific ethnic group from entering the country. In effect from 1882 to 1943, the Chinese Exclusion Act forbade Chinese residents from naturalizing as U.S. citizens and forbade Chinese “laborers” from entering the country at all. The law was draconian and racist. It was also, often, ineffective. The Chinese population in the U.S. actually grew in total numbers during the census years of 1890, 1930, and 1940. Thousands of Chinese immigrants successfully challenged exclusion or tailored migration strategies to fit the demands and exploit the loopholes of exclusion laws. Leading this steady resistance to exclusion was Y.C. Hong, a largely unsung but …
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Born in San Francisco in 1898, You Chung “Y.C.” Hong was the son of Chinese laborers. After serving as a translator at the Bureau of Immigration, Hong attended night classes at USC to study law. In 1923, he was one of the first Chinese-Americans to pass the California state bar. From a poor family, and standing just 4-feet-6-inches tall because of an injury he suffered as a baby, Hong had the strong-willed optimism that can come from overcoming adversity.  

In addition to serving as president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, testifying before congressional committees about Chinese-American rights, and trying to sway politicians by befriending them, Hong helped immigrants fight back hard against exclusion. 

Some cases used a legal loophole in the Exclusion Act and subsequent legislation: Foreign-born sons and daughters of Chinese-American citizens were entitled to U.S. citizenship. As a result, Chinese immigrants challenged exclusion by claiming to be offspring of Americans. Some of them were indeed children of citizens, but others, eager to start a new life here, changed their names, identities, and family history to become “paper sons and daughters.”
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Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance

The Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance (CHLA) is a labor organization formed in 1933 to protect the civil rights of overseas Chinese living in North America and "to help Chinese laundry workers break their isolation in American society."

John Jung's insight:
"At the beginning of the Great Depression, New York City had approximately 3,550 Chinese laundries.[3] According to a first hand account: Chinese laundrymen relied on their hands. On the door of every Chinese laundry were these two big words in red paint, "Hand Laundry," meaning all ironing was done by hand. In New York, perhaps seven out of ten Chinese survived by working in Chinese Hand Laundries. At the end of almost every residential block or alley, there was always a Chinese laundry. A Chinese laundry was usually small — about the size of five dining tables, equipped only with an ironing board and a shelf to put cleaned, ironed clothes that were packaged and ready to go.

 With the support of white people in that same industry,[10] in 1933 the New York City Board of Aldermen passed a law intended to drive the Chinese out of the business. Among other things, it limited ownership of laundries to United States citizens.[3] 

When their efforts were unsuccessfully opposed by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, a "conservative Chinese social organization",[4] the openly leftist Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance was formed. Where the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association failed, the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance successfully challenged this provision of the law, thereby preserving the livelihood of thousands of Chinese laundry workers. In the wake of that success, the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance continued to advocate for the civil rights of Chinese in North America.[3] For both members and non-members, the cost to engage the aid of the organization was twenty five cents.[2]"
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On the Water - Ocean Crossings, 1870-1969: Liners to America

On the Water - Ocean Crossings, 1870-1969: Liners to America | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
1876 engraving of steerage class that most Chinese took to cross the Pacific from Hong Kong to San Francisco
John Jung's insight:
The Smithsonian Institute documented immigrant crossings to America across the Atlantic and the Pacific (this section occurs about half way down the site). It describes the vessels that were used from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. One intriguing revelation was that the main company, Pacific Mail Steamship initially hired only Chinese as crew because they were cheaper, but eventually they were dismissed due to objections of white workers.

For an in-depth study of the business of transporting immigrants from Hong Kong, see Elizabeth Shinn's authoritative book,  Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AQHUUSE/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb
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The Smithsonian Institute documented immigrant crossings to America across the Atlantic and the Pacific (this section occurs about half way down the site). It describes the vessels that were used from the mid 19th century to the mid 20th century. One intriguing revelation was that the main company, Pacific Mail Steamship initially hired only Chinese as crew because they were cheaper, but eventually they were dismissed due to objections of white workers.
 
For an in-depth study of the business of transporting immigrants from Hong Kong, see Elizabeth Shinn's authoritative book,  Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00AQHUUSE/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb
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Encyclopedia of San Francisco

Encyclopedia of San Francisco | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Searchable index of San Francisco history. Features include a Timeline, Biography of the Day and Today in San Francisco History.
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Story of Donaldina Cameron, the larger than life rescuer of countless Chinese girls and women who were sex slaves in the early 20th century San Francisco Chinatown.
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The Sour Side of Chinese Restaurants

The Sour Side of Chinese Restaurants - Free download as Word Doc (.doc / .docx), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free.


An overview of difficulties that Chinese faced in operating restaurants starting with the initial disdain and contempt for Chinese food. Racial discrimination, legal problems, financial issues, and competition were obstacles that blocked success for many operators. Robbery, assault, and even homicide were constant threats. The work was arduous and the hours were long. These factors left a sour taste for many Chinese restaurateurs and their families.

[A condensed version is published in the Chinese American Forum, July, 2013]

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Where did I come from? Chang鄭 Chock卓 Sai 佘Wung翁 and Ching

Where did I come from? Chang鄭 Chock卓 Sai 佘Wung翁 and Ching | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
‘An adventure to find more of my Chinese heritage and my home village’
John Jung's insight:
Russell Chang notes: "I’m of Chinese descent and born in Hawaii. .... My parents were born in Hawaii. My Grandparents were born in Hawaii, and some of my Great-Grandparents were born in Hawaii”. Not “in a van down by the river” as Matt Foley may have said. The amazing thing is that I believe that I am 100% Chinese… all of my ancestors married Chinese."
     He shares his extensive and fruitful search for his ancestral roots in Guangdong, providing valuable tips and resources such as village maps. google maps, and databases.
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Russell Chang notes: "I’m of Chinese descent and born in Hawaii. .... My parents were born in Hawaii. My Grandparents were born in Hawaii, and some of my Great-Grandparents were born in Hawaii”. Not “in a van down by the river” as Matt Foley may have said. The amazing thing is that I believe that I am 100% Chinese… all of my ancestors married Chinese."
     He shares his extensive and fruitful search for his ancestral roots in Guangdong, providing valuable tips and resources such as village maps. google maps, and databases.
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Harley Spiller Vintage Chinese Menu Collection 哈利•斯皮勒的经典中餐菜单收藏

Harley Spiller Vintage Chinese Menu Collection 哈利•斯皮勒的经典中餐菜单收藏 | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Chinese Cuisine art posters, Chinese food prints, art, poster, print, Chinese cuisine fine art, artwork, art work, giclee, paintings, reproduction Food and drink, 哈利•斯皮勒的经典中餐菜单收藏
John Jung's insight:
Harley Spiller has a Guinness World Record for his hugh collection of Chinese restaurant menus dating back to 1910.  
 
These menus are a fascinating record of how Chinese food became a staple of American cuisine and  have striking graphics and fabulous imagery.
 
(This commercial site offers giclee prints and mugs of some of these menus.).
 
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The Untold Story of Chinese Restaurants in America

Virtually every American community has Chinese restaurants – and the story of how this came to be is fascinating and highly revealing about the often unintended impact of U.S. immigration rules.

John Jung's insight:

Historian Heather Lee discusses her ongoing research to trace the intersection between the spurt in growth of Chinese restaurants in the 1920s and the tactics used by Chinese to form merchant partnerships to circumvent the 1882 law barring Chinese laborers from entering the U. S.

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The hidden history of Seattle's anti-Chinese violence

The hidden history of Seattle's anti-Chinese violence | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
The Seattle waterfront is the city's photogenic front porch. It's a tourist attraction, and a camera-friendly place to capture the essence of Seattle, while ferryboats blow their horns and cars speed or crawl by on the viaduct. But something might be missing. - Local - MyNorthwest.com
John Jung's insight:

In February, 1886, Chinese were driven out of Seattle by angry mobs resentful that Chinese laborers were taking jobs away from whites. Similar violence occurred during the 1880s and 1890s in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the U. S.

 

As the article notes: "...there seems to be a collective gap in community consciousness about the anti-Chinese violence that happened here, and about what it all means to greater Seattle, circa 2016."

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Chinese Brought in As Shoe Factory Workers in a New England Labor Strike of 1870

Chinese Brought in As Shoe Factory Workers in a New England Labor Strike of 1870 | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
 A study of the 75 Chinese boys brought to break a labor strike, 1870 at a shoe factory in North Adams. MA.
John Jung's insight:

Historic 1870 case of a shoe factory owner recruiting 75 Chinese from San Francisco to replace striking workers in North Adams, Massachusetts where many had never seen a Chinese before.


This site contains archival documents, news articles, and photographs to provide an instructional tool for schools.

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Chinese American Genealogy Webinar

Live broadcast: 1/21/2016 Presented by: Alice Kane Chinese-American family history research can be conducted using standard genealogical resources such as ce...
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Excellent webinar for researching Chinese American genealogy presented by Alice Kane for the New England Historic Genealogical Society.  The first 17 mins. cover historical background and anyone familiar with it could jump ahead to the section on genealogical resources, methods, and problems.

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Frederick Bee, Unheralded defender of Chinese immigrants

Frederick Bee, Unheralded defender of Chinese immigrants | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Frederick Bee History Project
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Anthony Oertel, a local historian in Martinez, CA created an archive of historical documents related to Frederick Alonzo Bee, a little known fierce advocate for Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century.

Frederick Alonzo Bee was early opponent of Anti-Chinese sentiment in the United States. He was a California Gold Rush pioneer, miner, merchant, manager of the Pony Express, builder of the telegraph over the Sierras, developer of Sausalito, California, lobbyist for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, official at the Chinese Consulate, and vineyardist near Martinez, California. 

 Bee was appointed as Consul by the Chinese government after he effectively represented the interests of the Chinese community in front of a Congressional committee and settled disputes in Chinatown. Bee acted in an official capacity to represent the interests of Chinese immigrants, and appeared in federal court cases; his efforts to preserve harmony were recognized by the Emperor of China.

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Chinese American Genealogy

Live broadcast: 1/21/2016 Presented by: Alice Kane Chinese-American family history research can be conducted using standard genealogical resources such a
John Jung's insight:
After a 15 minute overview of Chinese immigration history to the U. S. ,  Alice Kane, a genealogical researcher, gives a presentation on resources and techniques for tracing Chinese American geneaology. 

 
(If you already are familiar with this history, you might want to  skip ahead 15 mins. to get to the genealogical material)
    
Chinese-American family history research can be conducted using standard genealogical resources such as censuses, city directories, and land transactions. There are, however, other resources that can be especially helpful, such as grave markers, records produced from the Chinese Exclusion Acts, and jiapu (collected family histories).
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City of San Bernardino - Chinatown

City of San Bernardino - Chinatown | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Early Chinatown, San Bernardino, CA
John Jung's insight:
"According to author/historian Richard Thompson, in his article, The Founding of San Bernardino's Chinatown, published in 1978, the first Chinese arrived in this area in August of 1867. The U.S. census records for 1870 indicated there were 16 young males. The oldest was Ah Wing at age 31 and the youngest was Jim Kang at 19. Their occupations were listed as laundry men, cooks, and houseboys.

In its heyday during the late 1890's, San Bernardino's Chinatown boasted between 400 and 600 residents. In addition to rather crudely constructed wooden "shack" homes, there were a number of business establishments as well. These included groceries, restaurants, and mercantile shops. 

 Some of the residents were farmers who raised vegetables east of Waterman Avenue. From "Chinese Gardens" they peddled their produce in carts. Janet Miles reminisced about the Chinese farmers in The Memoirs of Janet Miles: San Bernardino 1901-1994, written in 1994.
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"According to author/historian Richard Thompson, in his article, The Founding of San Bernardino's Chinatown, published in 1978, the first Chinese arrived in this area in August of 1867. The U.S. census records for 1870 indicated there were 16 young males. The oldest was Ah Wing at age 31 and the youngest was Jim Kang at 19. Their occupations were listed as laundry men, cooks, and houseboys.
 
In its heyday during the late 1890's, San Bernardino's Chinatown boasted between 400 and 600 residents. In addition to rather crudely constructed wooden "shack" homes, there were a number of business establishments as well. These included groceries, restaurants, and mercantile shops. 
 
 Some of the residents were farmers who raised vegetables east of Waterman Avenue. From "Chinese Gardens" they peddled their produce in carts. Janet Miles reminisced about the Chinese farmers in The Memoirs of Janet Miles: San Bernardino 1901-1994, written in 1994.
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Pacific Mail Steamship Company & Chinese immigration - FoundSF

Pacific Mail Steamship Company & Chinese immigration - FoundSF | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Main Office at First and Market Streets, San Francisco
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Pacific Mail Steamship Company was the backbone of trans-Pacific shipping during the 1860s and 1870s. Not only did Pacific Mail have a guaranteed contract from the U.S. government to carry mail across the seas, they were also the primary carrier of immigrant Chinese labor. 
The company was staunch in defending the rights of Chinese crew members and workers. In 1877 during three days of riots by unemployed white workers,  deputized members of the “Pick-Handle Brigade” fought off rioters intent on setting these docks aflame to deter further Chinese immigration. Repelled, the rioters set a nearby lumberyard on fire, probably on Mission Creek.

Pacific Mail transitioned into Dollar Line, and in 1938, Dollar Line's name was changed to American President Lines ( a global container-shipping company today).
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Edward Bing Kan: The First Chinese-American Naturalized after Repeal of Chinese Exclusion

Edward Bing Kan: The First Chinese-American Naturalized after Repeal of Chinese Exclusion | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
May 17, 2013Edward Bing Kan’s Certificate of Naturalization(click image to enlarge)On December 17, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law an Act to Repeal the Chinese Exclusion Acts.[
John Jung's insight:
Fascinating behind the scene story of the first Chinese to become a naturalized American citizen after the 1943 repeal of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act.

"Kan’s status as the first to naturalize was not the result of chance—for 35 years he had served as an interpreter in the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s (INS) Chicago office.

Kan, the son of a vegetable peddler, entered the U.S. as a student in 1892 at age 13 under his original name, Kan Kwong Bing.[v]He settled in Portland, Oregon and in 1900 married Katherine Wong, a U.S. born citizen of Chinese descent. Under some interpretations of U.S. nationality law at that time Edward’s noncitizen status effectively divested Katherine of her U.S. citizenship upon marriage.[vi]Edward’s status as an “alien ineligible for citizenship” prevented him from naturalizing, leaving Katherine’s citizenship status in doubt."
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Chinese Laundries in Massachusetts Oral History Project - University of Massachusetts Boston

Chinese Laundries in Massachusetts Oral History Project - University of Massachusetts Boston | Chinese American history | Scoop.it

The Institute for Asian American Studies, in partnership with the Chinese Historical Society of New England, has been interviewing Chinese Americans who owned, or whose parents owned, a laundry in Massachusetts.

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Salinas Chinatown

Salinas Chinatown | Chinese American history | Scoop.it

The Asian Cultural Experience (A.C.E.) is a multi-ethnic non-profit organization (501c3) dedicated to the historical and cultural preservation of Salinas Chinatown founded and incorporated in 2008.


It is committed to preserving, recording, documenting and exhibiting the history and culture of the Salinas Chinatown area where several ethnic groups have lived, worked, and gathered together since 1872. Chinatown is a historical “gold mountain" holding a rich multi-ethnic history of agricultural development, labor movements, daily life and low life, collaboration and tension, discrimination and solidarity. 

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Chinese | Women's History Matters

Chinese | Women's History Matters | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Born in Butte in 1904, Rose Hum Lee earned a B.S. in social work from Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute of Technology and completed a doctorate in sociology at the University of Chicago.
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"Bamboo Stone" by Karen Minden PhD

"Bamboo Stone" by Karen Minden PhD | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
In the late nineteenth century, Canadian missionaries developed a medical training program for Chinese students in the city of Chengdu, Sichuan Province, in southwestern China. From modest beginnings, the training evolved into a medical and dental college at West China Union University, a joint venture by five Western mission boards. The college provided an institutional setting for the interaction of two cultures for the transmission of Western medical knowledge. Minden describes both the process and the longterm implications by tracing the history of the college and the careers of its students and faculty. The school's history is linked to the political turmoil that has troubled China since the fall of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. Minden follows the progress of the college from 1888, taking the reader through the Sino-Japanese war in the 1930s, the Civil War of 1945-9, and the political upheavals in the People's Republic of China. She also explores the background, motivations, and campus life of both students and faculty, and follows their careers up to 1989. Based on extensive interviews and archival research in Canada, the United States and China, this study charts the range of human hope and despair during a turbulent period of history. It contributes to our understanding of the role of Canadian medical missionaries as agents of change in pre-revolutionary China, and elucidates the cross-cultural transfer of technological knowledge.
John Jung's insight:

The vast majority of Americans in the 19th century never had any direct contact with Chinese people, yet they had strong stereotypes of them, e.g., heathens.  Missionaries, although few in number, who worked in China, either with evangelical or medical agendas, were one influential source of information about the Chinese for the public.  

 

Were missionaries "accurate" in their depictions and/or did they overstate the problems of the Chinese to justify receiving continued financial support from their churches?    Did they work with a representative or with a more disadvantaged part of the Chinese community?

 

NOTE: Bamboo Stone does not directly address these questions, but provided me with an inside look of a sample of medical missionaries from Canada a century ago which helped my understanding of their work and how they might affect American public conceptions of Chinese in China, which would carryover to their views of recent immigrants from China.

 

Disclaimer: The author, Karen Minden, is the daughter of  Harold Minden, an esteemed colleague of mine when I taught psychology in Toronto in the mid 1960s. By sheer luck, this month I became reacquainted with her sister, Nancy Minden, who told me about this valuable book based on Karen's Ph.D. dissertation.

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History of Chinese Immigrants and Angel Island Immigration Station

From 1910 to 1940, tens of thousands of immigrants entered the United States through the West Coast's Angel Island Immigration Station. Located in San Franci...
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Winston Ho's YouTube playlist of several excellent videos on the history and experiences of Chinese detained at Angel Island Immigration Station from 1910 to 1943

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The Inscape Building’s Dark History

The Inscape Building’s Dark History | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
Seattle’s Inscape arts center once held Chinese and Japanese prisoners.
John Jung's insight:

Most Chinese and other Asian immigrants between 1910 and 1940 were detained at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco bay. Many stories of their treatment and living conditions have been published.  B

Many other Chinese and Japanese immigrants entered through Seattle, but little has been written about where they were detained and what the housing conditions were like.. This article gives the history of the INS building, opened in 1932 and closed in 2004, where Asian immigrants were interrogated and then admitted or deported. 

The facility has been repurposed to serve as a cultural center and museum and renamed as the Inscape Center, with Inscape referring to the essential inner nature of a person or object, 

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Early Chinese in Massachusetts (1870-1900)

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Using U. S. Census records, this analysis examines demographic, occupational, and geographic characteristics of Chinese in Massachusetts from 1870-1900.  A good discussion of problems of accuracy of census records included.

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Pan America Lung Kong Tin Yee Association

Pan America Lung Kong Tin Yee Association | Chinese American history | Scoop.it
John Jung's insight:

When Chinese immigrants arrived at countries all over the world, they needed physical, financial, legal, and social support to survive.  Associations that started in China in 1662  served these mutual aid functions. One of these, the Lung Kong TIn Yee Association, based on four families, Lew, Quan, Jung, and Chew, was prominent in both the U. S. and Canada and other parts of the world.

 

 for more info:

http://palungkong.org/concise%20lk%20history.htm

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lung_Kong_Tin_Yee_Association

 

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