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Chinatown's Groceries Thrive in San Francisco

San Francisco's Chinatown was a thriving commercial center for Chinese immigrants in California. By 1856, there were already thirty-three Chinese-owned groceries and general stores that sold a wide variety of goods and foodstuffs, mostly imported [...]

The Theater Draws Immigrants and Tourists to Chinatown

During the 1870s and 1880s, San Francisco's Chinatown included as many as four theater companies that regularly performed Chinese operas and other entertainment. The cost of admission to evening performances was usually 20-25 cents for Chinese (50 [...]

"Sister Carrie" Enters a 19th Century Temple of Consumerism

The heroine of Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie is a small-town girl thrust into the big-city life of a bustling late-nineteenth-century Chicago. In this passage Carrie, on the verge of poverty after losing a job in a garment factory and desperately [...]

An "Irish Agent" Describes the Classes of Tenant Farmers

The following excerpts are from Valentine M'Clutchy, the Irish Agent (1845), a melodramatic novel by Irish writer William Carleton. Himself the son of a farmer whose family was evicted from their land, Carleton here offers a sympathetic description [...]

A Slave's Walk in Colonial New York

By 1740, almost twenty percent of New York's population was African American and roughly half of white households owned at least one slave.  While slaves were forced to live and work alongside whites, they sought out the company of other [...]

New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Excerpt)

In the following passage, historian Jill Lepore carefully considers an enslaved man's walk through 1740s Manhattan. The slave, who was known as Pedro, described a Sunday walk through Manhattan as part of a confession that he gave during the [...]

A Chinese Immigrant Recalls the Dangers of Railroad Work

From the 1860s to the 1880s, thousands of Chinese immigrants found work in railroad construction in the West, notably on the Central Pacific line of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was built primarily by Chinese. The extreme danger of [...]

Freedom's Daughters (Excerpt)

Lynne Olson's Freedom's Daughters shines light on the often-overlooked role that women played in the civil rights movement. In the preface to her book, Olson sketches some brief biographies of a few of the outstanding female civil rights leaders and [...]

"The Fight for Educational Reform": Chicano Youth Demand Change

In this chapter from Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement F. Arturo Rosales explains the environment from which this Chicano youth movement developed and the tactics used by this student movement to bring about [...]

An Historian Reevaluates Civil Rights Scholarship

In this forward to Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside the South 1940-1980, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham sketches an outline of the contributions of African Americans from the Northeast, West Coast and Midwest in shaping the Civil Rights [...]

Item Type: Book (excerpt)