Introduction

Leaving China & the
Journey Across the
Pacific

Cultural Traditions

Women in Early
Chinatowns

Anti-Chinese Violence
& Women's Resistance

Chinese Women at
Work

Educational
Opportunities

Women in Cultural
Work

The Great Depression
and War

Conclusion

Additional Resources


 

 

ANTI-CHINESE VIOLENCE AND WOMEN'S RESISTANCE

A Chinatown in Eureka, California.
Collection of Peter Palmquist, Private Acquisition

Although most Chinese immigrants lived in urban Chinatowns, many settled in remote rural areas where they found work in railroad construction, agriculture, and mining. They hoped to escape from the discrimination that Chinese immigrants often endured in cities – only to face racism and roundups in small mining and farming areas. 

Between the early 1850s, the era of the Gold Rush, and the turn of the century, local officials, union leaders, and vigilantes forced thousands of Chinese Americans from over 300 towns across the West. The first Chinese American women were driven from the Chinatowns they had helped build. In Antioch, California, the town doctor blamed Chinese American women for the spread of syphilis amongst young white boys. Locals forced the women onto a fishing boat and sent it up the San Joaquin River.  The women sailed back the same night. In San Jose and Chico, Chinese Americans watched their homes and communities torched over and over again, and joined in valiant and successful efforts to remain and rebuild.

In February 1885, the townspeople of Eureka rounded up over 250 Chinese American men and approximately 50 Chinese American women in one brutal weekend and forced them onto two steam ships that carried them to San Francisco. For over thirty years, Eureka’s Chinatown had occupied one square block of the foggy lumber town. Many Chinese American women driven from Eureka settled in San Francisco; others moved back to rural towns. Within a year the 1,500 Chinese men and fifty women who lived in the towns surrounding Eureka in Humboldt County were also forced out on steam ships, in buggies, or marched out at gun point on the roads they had built. 27