Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Stalling Tactic

I know.  This is probably a form  of procrastination but I figured I better pull together some key points related to Chinese history and Chinese immigration.

While all these items aren't necessarily applicable to my situation, I do find this broad knowledge helpful to at least provide some context to my research.

I'm sure as I discover more questions that will trigger other informational tangents...so humor me.

History of China and Chinese Immigration

    •    1839-1842:  The Opium War between [mainly southern] China and Great Britain. Great Britain used of opium and superior firepower to tip the trade imbalance and subjugate China to a colonial-like status.

    •    1840s:  Coolie Trade:  Many Chinese [some against their will] became indentured servants -- or "coolies" -- and where shipped from [mainly Southern] Chinese ports [like Amoy and Macao] to work in  other countries in Southeast Asia, South America, and Hawaii.

    •    1850-1890:  The California Gold Rush lures many to  the United States and the mining and railroad industries gladly used the cheap labor force.  This group of immigrants was predominantly male and, for the most part, planned to leave once they gained their fortune.  While these men we not actually indentured servants, they were still called "coolies".  They were perceived as "disposable" contracted labor and given the dangerous task of laying dynamite -- hence the phrase, "You don't stand a Chinaman's chance".

     •    1882:  The Chinese Exclusion Act began the prohibition of Chinese immigration to the United States by barring Chinese laborers.  Chinese wives of American citizens were not allowed in the United States.

    •    1888: The Scott Act made it impossible for Chinese laborers who leaves the country to return, preventing men from visiting their families or returning with their wives.

    •    1906:  The San Francisco Earthquake [and resulting fire] resulted in the loss of a large percentage of immigration and naturalization records.  This created an opportunity for people to forge records.  "Paper sons" reflected the practice of Chinese American citizens signing statements claiming several men/boys were their sons in order to obtain citizenship for them.

    •    1917:  The Literacy Test Act:  Despite a veto by President Wilson, a literacy test (English or their own language) was administered, keeping out those without access to education.

    •    1924: The Immigration Act sharply cut immigration to the United States.

    •    1928-1949:  After defeating local warlords, the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party) gain control of China

    •    1929:  The National Origins Plan of 1929 established immigration quotas based on country.

    •    1937:  Japanese invade China

    •    1940s:  Chinese civil war.

    •    1943:  With the start of World War II and China being our ally, all Chinese exclusion laws were repealed and a Chinese immigration quota was established.

    •    1949:  The People's Republic of China is established.  Chinese Nationalists flee to Taiwan.

    •    1959:  Hawaii become a state.

    •    1965:  The Immigration Act replaced the National Origins Plan,  eliminating national origin as an entry barrier.  The new system emphasized family relationships, motivation for emigration and the immigrant's value to the United States.

    •    1966-1976: The Cultural Revolution is instituted in China.  It's goal was to make China a classless society by ridding China of it's traditional thought and art.  This resulted in the emigration of many of China's intellectuals and artists.

    •    1979:  The United States officially recognizes the People's Republic of China, breaking official ties with Taiwan.

    1.    She, Colleen.  "A Student's Guide to Chinese American Genealogy". Book Oryx Press. 1996
    2.    Fairbank, John K. & Reischauer,  Edwin O. "China: Tradition & Transformation". Book. Houghton Mifflin Company. 1989
    3.    Gordon, Irving L. "Review Text in American History". Book. Amsco School Publications, Inc. 1986.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I'm Back!

Okay.  I know it's been a while and I'm sure you were wondering if this site was aptly named.

As I mentioned earlier, I think the challenges related to genealogy on this side of my family tree has always been a huge mental obstacle to overcome. However, at work we're now functionally testing versions of our site in French and German exposing me to the use of virtual keyboards and translation tools like Google translate and Firefox's Babelfish add-on, which aren't perfect but get the job done.  This and the generally nag that resides in the back of my head have pushed me to dust off this project again.

So first off, I went online and checked out what was available at my local library.1  I live in Los Angeles county which allows me to request any book from any of the country libraries...for free!  Once found, you just place the book on hold and request it to be sent to your local library.  I don't think all libraries do this...at least not for free.  But I don't think the fee is that much...a dollar here or there.

The sad thing, though, is that I found only one book on Chinese American Genealogy.2

Oh well.  At least it's a start.

  1. County of Los Angeles Library website
  2. The Chinese American Genealogy book found in the LA Country library catalog -- She, Colleen. A Student's Guide to Chinese American Genealogy. Book. Oryx Press. 1996