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Chinese Americans

In the 19th century, a majority of Chinese immigrants were single men who worked for a while and returned home. At first, they were attracted to North America by the gold rush in California. A relatively large group of Chinese immigrated to the United States between the start of the California gold rush in 1849 and 1882, before federal law stopped their immigration. After the gold rush, Chinese immigrants worked as agricultural laborers, on railroad construction crews throughout the West, and in low-paying industrial jobs. Soon, many opened their own businesses such as restaurants, laundries, and other personal service concerns.

With the onset of hard economic times in the 1870s, European immigrants and Americans began to compete for the jobs traditionally reserved for the Chinese. Such competition was accompanied by anti-Chinese sentiment, riots, and pressure, especially in California, for the exclusion of Chinese immigrants from the United States. The result was the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed by Congress in 1882. This Act virtually ended Chinese immigration for nearly a century.
Chinatown
1849
1849
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2018
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2018
726 Media in collectionpage 1 of 8
The living Chinese family, arrived in New York April 1850, in the ship Ianthe Capt. Johnson from Canton lith & pub. by N. Currier, 152 Nassau St. cor. of Spruce N.Y

The living Chinese family, arrived in New York April 1850, in the ship...

Print shows a Chinese family sitting on a long sofa, from left are "Miss Pwan Ye Koo, aged 17 years, a young lady, with feet 2 1/2 inches long", holding a musical instrument, "Miss Lum Akum, aged 23 years, her ... more

The difference between them

The difference between them

Caricature showing Irish entering the U.S. with intent to stay and Chinese to stay temporarily. Illus. in: Puck, 1878 May 15, cover, p. 1. Ref. copy may be in SSF(Gr) - ALIEN LABOR, CHINESE 1878. This record co... more

The Chinese invasion / J. Keppler.

The Chinese invasion / J. Keppler.

Composite of nine cartoons, each separately captioned, on Chinese immigrants in the United States, including New York City and San Francisco. Illus. in: Puck, vol. 7, no. 158, pp. 24-25.

From the oldest to the youngest nation

From the oldest to the youngest nation

Caricature showing Chinese man with firecrackers in his queue floating firecrackers to Uncle Sam, who is jumping in joy. Color lithograph by F. Opper. Illus. in: Puck, 1881 July 6, cover, p. 301. Ref. copy may ... more

The anti-Chinese wall--The American wall goes up as the Chinese original goes down / F. Grätz.

The anti-Chinese wall--The American wall goes up as the Chinese origin...

A cartoon showing laborers, among whom are Irishmen, an African American, a Civil War veteran, Italian, Frenchman, and a Jew, building a wall against the Chinese. Congressional mortar is used to mount blocks of... more

The only Chinese bill that the president cannot veto

The only Chinese bill that the president cannot veto

Print shows a Chinese laundry ticket that states "Clothes are given to the person showing the check - all responsibility then ceases. None given without a check; if lost, goods cannot be claimed. Not responsibl... more

Celestial wrath / F. Opper.

Celestial wrath / F. Opper.

Print shows startled French soldiers in rice paddies confonting an angry blazing sun rimmed with cannon barrels and bayonets, and stating "Population 500,000,000", also signs labeled "Malaria, Disease, [and] Fe... more

A trio that must go / F. Graetz.

A trio that must go / F. Graetz.

Print shows a "Church Bell" as a female figure, an injured elephant labeled "Republican Party" with bandages and an eye patch labeled "Nov. 1882", and a Chinese man. Title from item. Illus. from Puck, v. 14, no... more

New York City - celebrating the Chinese Moon Festival in Mott Street - waiting for a glimpse of the moon / from a sketch by a staff artist.

New York City - celebrating the Chinese Moon Festival in Mott Street -...

Men in street, looking up at moon. Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, v. 59, 1884 Oct. 11, p. 113.

Official map of "Chinatown" in San Francisco /

Official map of "Chinatown" in San Francisco /

Cadastral map showing names of owners, businesses, "Chinese occupancy," "Chinese gambling houses," and "White occupants." "The map and colors show only the first, or street floor of Chinatown and the occupancy ... more

Thatcher, Primrose & West's Minstrels

Thatcher, Primrose & West's Minstrels

Caption: The two Chinese dromios in their original creation, "A holiday in the laundry." Created by "The Strobridge Lith. Co., Cin'ti-N=Y-London." N.Y. 1832. Forms part of: Minstrel poster collection (Library o... more

Chinese Americans in an opium den

Chinese Americans in an opium den

Title devised by cataloger. Detroit Publishing Co. no. 30816. Gift; State Historical Society of Colorado; 1949.

Two men standing on a sidewalk, Chinatown, San Francisco

Two men standing on a sidewalk, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Little Plum Blossom, Chinatown, San Francisco

Little Plum Blossom, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The visit of the Ambassador of China / drawn by T. Dart Walker.

The visit of the Ambassador of China / drawn by T. Dart Walker.

Three illustrations showing reception at ex-Secretary Whitney's house during which Li Hung-chang presents President Cleveland with a letter from the emperor of China; continuing celebration in Chinatown; and an... more

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. NUMBER: SIS 0250

The sword dancer, Chinatown, San Francisco

The sword dancer, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 191. Alternate titles from a similar image in: Genthe's photogra... more

Chinese girl, Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinese girl, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 96. Purch... more

Children walking, Chinatown, San Francisco

Children walking, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The vegetable peddler, Chinatown, San Francisco

The vegetable peddler, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 119. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Chinese American men and child in front of building with hanging lanterns, Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinese American men and child in front of building with hanging lante...

Photograph shows Chinese American men in traditional dress standing on a street in Chinatown, San Francisco. One man holds a child. Title devised by Library staff. Forms part of: Genthe photograph collection (L... more

A corner crowd, Chinatown, San Francisco

A corner crowd, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image: negative margins cropped

Man walking with a small child, Chinatown, San Francisco

Man walking with a small child, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Three women on Kearney Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Three women on Kearney Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 91. Purch... more

Women and children walking down a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Women and children walking down a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Man and two boys walking along a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Man and two boys walking along a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The drug store sign, Chinatown, San Francisco

The drug store sign, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 42. Purch... more

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

His first cigar, Chinatown, San Francisco

His first cigar, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 117. Purc... more

Three children standing on a sidewalk, Chinatown, San Francisco
The fish dealer's daughter, Chinatown, San Francisco

The fish dealer's daughter, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 20. Alter... more

Three children in front of a cellar door, Chinatown, San Francisco

Three children in front of a cellar door, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. ID INFO: plate #23 in Tchen

No likee, Chinatown, San Francisco

No likee, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 99. Alternate title from a similar image in: Pictures of old Chi... more

Man carrying a child walking with another child, Chinatown, San Francisco

Man carrying a child walking with another child, Chinatown, San Franci...

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

A Chinese boy, Chinatown, San Francisco

A Chinese boy, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 106. Purc... more

Jewish balloon man, Chinatown, San Francisco

Jewish balloon man, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 60. Purch... more

Man and a boy walking down a sidewalk with other people, Chinatown, San Francisco

Man and a boy walking down a sidewalk with other people, Chinatown, Sa...

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The Foreign element in New York--the Chinese colony, Mott Street / Drawn by W. Bengough.

The Foreign element in New York--the Chinese colony, Mott Street / Dra...

Illus. in: Harper's weekly, 1896 Feb. 29, p. 209.

Chinese American woman and child, Chinatown, San Francisco

Chinese American woman and child, Chinatown, San Francisco

Photograph shows Chinese American woman and girl in traditional dress standing on a street in Chinatown, San Francisco. Title devised by Library staff. Forms part of: Genthe photograph collection (Library of Co... more

Reading wall notices, Chinatown, San Francisco

Reading wall notices, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 54. Purch... more

Father and children, Chinatown, San Francisco

Father and children, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Young girl walking down the street, looking into the camera, Chinatown, San Francisco

Young girl walking down the street, looking into the camera, Chinatown...

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Men standing or walking down a sidewalk, Chinatown, San Francisco
Merchant, Chinatown, San Francisco

Merchant, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a photographic calendar for the year 1946 / Arnold Genthe. Oakland : Mills College, 1946. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Reading wall notices, Chinatown, San Francisco

Reading wall notices, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 54. Purch... more

In holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

In holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 73. Alternate title from a similar image in: Pictures of old Chi... more

Vendors and a horse and cart on a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Vendors and a horse and cart on a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Woman carrying a child crossing a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Woman carrying a child crossing a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The fortune teller, Chinatown, San Francisco

The fortune teller, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Carrying New Year's presents, Chinatown, San Francisco

Carrying New Year's presents, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The tinkers, Chinatown, San Francisco

The tinkers, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 49. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Man and two children entering a building, Chinatown, San Francisco
The lily vendor, Chinatown, San Francisco

The lily vendor, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The drug store sign, Chinatown, San Francisco

The drug store sign, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Three children in front of a cellar door, Chinatown, San Francisco

Three children in front of a cellar door, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The grocery store, Chinatown, San Francisco

The grocery store, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Apricot Spring Orchard drugstore, Chinatown, San Francisco

Apricot Spring Orchard drugstore, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 43. Purch... more

Toy merchants, Chinatown, San Francisco

Toy merchants, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 62. Purch... more

Washington Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Washington Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

In softly gaudy colors, Chinatown, San Francisco

In softly gaudy colors, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

In front of the Joss House, Chinatown, San Francisco

In front of the Joss House, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Two little maids from school, Chinatown, San Francisco

Two little maids from school, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

An unsuspecting victim, Chinatown, San Francisco

An unsuspecting victim, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The street of painted balconies, Chinatown, San Francisco

The street of painted balconies, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Fish Alley, Chinatown, San Francisco

Fish Alley, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The wild cat (for the Highbinder's feast of the uncooked meat), Chinatown, San Francisco

The wild cat (for the Highbinder's feast of the uncooked meat), Chinat...

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 143. Alternate title from a similar image in: Pictures of old Ch... more

The toy peddler, Chinatown, San Francisco

The toy peddler, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 199. Alternate title from a similar image in: Pictures of old Ch... more

Women and children walking down a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Women and children walking down a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

Five girls in holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

Five girls in holiday finery, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

Friends, Chinatown, San Francisco

Friends, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 61. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Three girls standing in a doorway, Chinatown, San Francisco

Three girls standing in a doorway, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Three children talking to a man, Chinatown, San Francisco

Three children talking to a man, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Small boy standing in front of a door, Chinatown, San Francisco

Small boy standing in front of a door, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

[Retinue attending Chinese statesman, Li Hung Chang, when he visited Philadelphia]

[Retinue attending Chinese statesman, Li Hung Chang, when he visited P...

Photograph shows Li Hung Chang and another man riding in a horse-drawn carriage with crowds on both sides of the street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Title devised by Library staff. No. 549. Forms part of: Mar... more

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Street scene, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The devil's kitchen, Chinatown, San Francisco

The devil's kitchen, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

His first cigar, Chinatown, San Francisco

His first cigar, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Young girl walking down a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Young girl walking down a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

Paying New Year's calls, Chinatown, San Francisco

Paying New Year's calls, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

A corner on the hillside, Chinatown, San Francisco

A corner on the hillside, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Pigtail parade, Chinatown, San Francisco

Pigtail parade, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Genthe's photographs of San Francisco's old Chinatown / photographs by Arnold Genthe ; selection and text by John Kuo Wei Tchen. New York : Dover Publications, 1984, pl. 116. Purc... more

The pipe-bowl mender, Chinatown, San Francisco

The pipe-bowl mender, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Boy standing on steps in front of a doorway, Chinatown, San Francisco

Boy standing on steps in front of a doorway, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Washington Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Washington Street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943. vd image reversed 2/96

The street of painted balconies, Chinatown, San Francisco

The street of painted balconies, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Women and children crossing a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Women and children crossing a street, Chinatown, San Francisco

Title devised. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Children walking, Chinatown, San Francisco

Children walking, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

Weighing fish, Chinatown, San Francisco

Weighing fish, Chinatown, San Francisco

Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.

The street of the gamblers (by night), Chinatown, San Francisco

The street of the gamblers (by night), Chinatown, San Francisco

Title from a similar image in: Old Chinatown : a book of pictures / by Arnold Genthe ; with text by Will Irwin. New York : M. Kennerley, 1913, p. 35. Purchase; Genthe Estate; 1942 or 1943.