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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Theme > Immigration and Migration (x)
  • Historical Eras > Industrialization and Expansion (1877-1913) (x)

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Tables Show Chinese Labor Distribution and Wage Discrepancies in Late 19th Century San Francisco

This chart shows the numbers of Chinese immigrants employed in various occupations in San Francisco from 1860-1880. Although the data is incomplete, the chart shows that the vast majority of Chinese worked in menial jobs as laundry workers, [...]

"Unguarded Gates" (Excerpt)

Thomas Bailey Aldrich was a well-known and regarded American poet of the late nineteenth century. In "Unguarded Gates," he expresses the anti-immigrant xenophobia and notions of Anglo-American superiority shared by many native-born Americans of the [...]

Chinese Immigrants Write Poems in the "Wooden Barracks"

At Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay, Chinese immigrants were detained for weeks or even months in the so-called "Wooden Barracks" as they awaited processing. Faced with poor conditions, humiliating treatment, and homesickness, [...]

"Goddess of Liberty, Answer"

This poem refers to the Statue of Liberty, and appears to be a response to Emma Lazarus's poem "The New Colossus." The location mentioned by the author, "Sandy Hook," is on the coast of New Jersey, and signifies the border of the U.S. beyond which [...]

President Cleveland Vetoes a Law Restricting Immigration

In 1897 President Grover Cleveland vetoed legislation requiring a literacy test for would-be immigrants proposed by Massachusetts Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, declaring, "I cannot believe that we would be protected against these [alleged evils of [...]

An American-Born Chinese Man Complies with the Chinese Exclusion Act

Wong Kim Ark, a Chinese-American born in San Francisco, was required under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to acquire this Certificate of Registration before leaving the country on an 1894 trip to China so that he would be allowed back into the [...]

The U.S. Supreme Court Rules in the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark

In 1895, Wong Kim Ark returned to San Francisco, the city of his birth, from a trip to China. Customs officials denied him re-entry to the country and detained him, claiming that he was not a citizen; because of the Chinese Exclusion Act passed in [...]

The United States Bars Chinese Immigrants (with text supports)

The Chinese Exclusion Act, passed on May 6, 1882, was the first major restriction placed on immigration in the U.S., and the only immigration law that explicitly barred a specific group from entering the country. The Exclusion Act forbade Chinese [...]

"The Story of Sadie Frowne, A Brooklyn Sweatshop Girl"

Sadie Frowne's story is in many ways typical of the immigrant worker in New York's Lower East Side.  Her story was originally published the New York Independent, a reform-minded newspaper, and later collected into the 1906 book The Lives of [...]

A Chinese Immigrant Tells of Labor in a New Land

Since their arrival in the United States in the 1850s, Chinese immigrants confronted social, political, and economic discrimination. Many Americans believed that the Chinese posed a threat to white workers and should not be eligible for citizenship. [...]

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