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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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San Francisco and California Pass Anti-Chinese Laws, 1858-1913

The playing field in the U.S. was not level for all immigrant groups. Chinese immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries faced a host of laws that restricted their freedom to emigrate, earn a living, and follow their native [...]

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 [...]

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. [...]

The New York Times Predicts a Railroad Strike, 1885

This New York Times article from September 1885 makes reference to the tensions that existed between organized labor and Chinese immigrant workers on the Union Pacific and other railroad lines. According to the article, the Knights of Labor, the [...]

Chinese Women Relax in Golden Gate Park

These women relaxing in Golden Gate Park in the 1890s wear silk robes and embroidered slippers; their clothing indicates that it is some sort of holiday or special occasion. The ratio of men to women in Chinatown was 20-to-1; merchants' wives had [...]

A Chinese Laborer Shields His Face from the Camera

The majority of Chinatown's residents were male laborers who worked in jobs like constructing railroads, mining, and agriculture. Many workers left their families in China, planning to return after they had made enough money. The rise of [...]

Pupils Study in San Francisco's Chinatown

This photograph shows a schoolroom scene from San Francisco's Chinese Public School, circa late nineteenth or early twentieth century. The Chinese immigrant students are taught by a middle-class white woman. Note the students' traditional dress and [...]

"The Chinese 6 Companies at 843 Stockton St. Known by the Chinese as the Chung Wa Woey Koon"

This photograph shows the headquarters of the so-called Chinese Six Companies, officially known as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, on Stockton Street in San Francisco. The Six Companies, organized in the 1850s and formally [...]

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 [...]

Item Type: Photograph