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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Chinese American Describes Going to School in Chinatown

San Francisco's first public school for Chinese immigrants, known first as the Chinese School and then as the Oriental School, began operating in 1859. The school intended to segregate Chinese children from white children in the city's public [...]

A Son Recalls How His Parents Survived Anti-Chinese Discrimination

In this interview, Thomas Chinn (1909-1997), an American-born son of Chinese immigrants, recalls the choices his parents made in the face of anti-Chinese discrimination and violence. Chinn was founder, publisher, and editor of the Chinese Digest, [...]

Chinese Family Associations Assist New Immigrants

Thomas Chinn (1909-1997) was the founder, publisher, and editor of the Chinese Digest, the first English-language weekly newspaper for Chinese Americans in the United States, and later the Chinese News. In this interview, Chinn describes the origins [...]

Chinese Immigrants Maintain Ties with Home

Thomas Chinn (1909-1997) was the founder, publisher, and editor of the Chinese Digest, the first English-language weekly newspaper for Chinese Americans in the United States, and later the Chinese News. In this excerpt from an interview, he [...]

A Son Remembers His Immigrant Parents' Struggles in America

In this interview, Thomas Chinn (1909-1997) recalls his parents' experiences as Chinese immigrants in white-dominated American society. Chinn was founder, publisher, and editor of the Chinese Digest, the first English-language weekly newspaper for [...]

"Street of Gamblers (By Day)"

This photo of Ross Alley shows the preponderance of male immigrants in San Francisco's Chinatown. While outsiders dubbed this a "bachelor society," many Chinese immigrants had left behind families in China. Arnold Genthe's original caption for this [...]

"Chinese Butcher and Grocer Shop, Chinatown, S.F."

In the late 1880s, when this photograph was taken by Isaiah West Taber, there were over 20,000 Chinese living in California. Many settled in San Francisco's Chinatown, where markets, temples, theaters, and restaurants supplied a thriving commercial [...]

Background Essay on Late 19th and Early 20th Century Immigration

This summary of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century immigration describes the "new immigration" that originated from Southern and Eastern Europe. The essay also outlines American responses to the new wave of immigration, including some of [...]

Background Essay on San Francisco's Chinatown

This short essay describes the origins of San Francisco's Chinatown, as well as some of its major economic, political, and social facets. The essay also describes the challenges San Francisco's Chinese community faced from the city's white [...]

An English-Chinese Phrase Book

This phrase book was published in 1875 and distributed at Wells Fargo bank offices throughout the West, in cities and towns where Chinese immigrants lived and worked. Modeled on the traditional Chinese method of memorizing and reciting "sets" of [...]