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Chinese Immigration to the United States

Page history last edited by Mark Haggan 1 year, 4 months ago Saved with comment

U.S. Immigration Station, Angel Island, San Francisco Bay


U.S. Immigration Station, Angel Island, San Francisco Bay



Historical Overview




Brief overview: http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/timeline/riseind/chinimms/chinimms.html


Chinese Immigration is a history in two parts:


  1. From the 1850s to the 1880s before being halted by federal anti-immigration legislation
  2. From the 1970s to the present following normalization of U.S./China relations


View a timeline of Chinese Immigration HERE

Why Did the first Chinese Immigrants Come to the United States? from KCC Alterna-TV News

three reasons why the Chinese immigrants wanted to come to the US was because they were poor and they wanted to make more money to send back to their poor families. Most importantly, Chinese faced economic hardships in China.

Chinese American Women: A History of Resilience and Resistance, National Women's History Museum


Primary Sources from Harper's Weekly, The Chinese American Experience, 1857-1892


Cross-Link to Major Developments in Late 20th Century Chinese History



Teaching Resource: 

  • https://teachers.yale.edu/curriculum/viewer/initiative_06.02.06_u :
    • This link includes a background of the causes of Chinese immigration, methods of immigration, early forms of discrimination, Chinese workers on railroads, the Chinese and the courts, and life after exclusion. This source also includes teaching strategies and multiple lesson plans.




Present Day Information


Asian Immigration to the United States (2016)


Chain Migration Created Today's Asian America



Early Chinese Immigration to the U.S.


  • Many of the first Chinese immigrants were wealthy merchants and skilled artisans known for their hard work.
    • Well and widely received by Americans


  • In the 1880's poor unskilled workers came looking for work on railroads, to mine gold, to become cooks, and take other jobs considered 'dirty" or undesirable.
    • They worked hard for little pay.
    • Unlike the skilled Chinese immigrants who were well received, were treated negatively and attitudes were hostile towards them


This is an excellent AP US History video discussing the immigration of Chinese Americans in the 19th Century.


Chinese Immigrants in the West

Chinese Laborers on the Way to the Gold Fields
Chinese Laborers on the Way to the Gold Fields

For more, see The Chinese and Westward Expansion from the exhibit "The Chinese in California, 1850-1925" from the Library of Congress.

The Unsung Story of Chinese and Japanese Immigrants Who Brought Rice to California from Good Magazine, December 24, 2014.

Chinese in California, 1850 - 1925 from the University of California Berkeley


The Story of Ing "Doc" Hay, a Chinese herbalist in a small town in Oregon in the 1880s from Crossing East, a radio program about Asian American History

external image Transcontinental_RR_1944-3c.jpg

Chinese Workers and the Transcontinental Railroad


See also Dramatic Event page on The Transcontinental Railroad






Timeline from Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Stanford University


Chinese-American Contribution to Transcontinental Railroad from the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum.
Some 80 percent of those involved in building the Transcontinental Railroad were immigrant Chinese workers.


The Chinese Workers Strike in June 1867 from PBS American Experience.



The Only One Barred Out, Political Cartoon, 1882
The Only One Barred Out, Political Cartoon, 1882


Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882


  • The Chinese Exclusion Act was an immigration law passed in 1882 that prevented Chinese laborers from immigrating to the United States.
  • First law in American history to ban a specific racial group from entering the country
    • Angel Island Inspection Station was built in 1910


Paper Sons and Daughters



Chinese Immigration and the Chinese Exclusion Acts

Office of the Historian, United States Department of State




  • https://aapf.org/chinese-exclusion-act : This source gives a good summary of the Chinese Exclusion acts. This source also goes into detail on how women were impacted by the Chinese exclusion act. This source has good propaganda and pictures relating to the Chinese exclusion act. It also includes a video.





Chinese Immigrants in Massachusetts



Discovering your Chinese American Heritage • FamilySearch 


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