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Chinese Servants Hold Trays and Flowers

Many Chinese immigrants in the nineteenth century, the majority of whom were men, took their first jobs as domestic servants for white families in the West. They were responsible for cooking, cleaning, laundry, and sometimes childcare. One reason for this was the scarcity of female labor (and women generally) in the West at that time; one result was that Chinese men who worked in domestic service could learn English and gain familiarity with American cultural practices. These servants presented something of a paradox: in a society with increasingly strident and racist anti-Chinese rhetoric and legal restrictions, these men were an integral part of family life for the whites who employed them.

Source | "[three Chinese male servants, in uniforms]," photograph, date unknown; California Historical Society, from Library of Congress, The Chinese in America 1850-1925, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/award99/cubhtml/cichome.html
Creator | Unknown
Item Type | Photograph
Cite This document | Unknown, “Chinese Servants Hold Trays and Flowers,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed May 26, 2020, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1056.

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