Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives

Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives

Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives

Surviving on the Gold Mountain: A History of Chinese American Women and Their Lives

Synopsis

The first comprehensive work on Chinese American women's history covering the past 150 years, which through archival documents, unearths the lives of Chinese immigrant women as wives of merchants, farmers, & laborers, as prostitutes, & as students & professionals in 19th & 20th century America.

Excerpt

In 1834, Afong Moy, the first recorded Chinese woman to come to America, arrived in New York City. She was used by the American Museum as a showpiece to display how different a Celestial lady looked from the Western women. Between 1834 and 1835, according to the Commercial Advertiser, Afong Moy, in Chinese costume, was placed at the American Museum to show the American audience Chinese costumes, manners, and life styles. Following Afong Moy, more women came to America. Four decades after Afong Moy's arrival, the number of Chinese women in America reached 4,574, mainly distributed throughout California, Nevada, Hawaii, and Idaho.

During the California Gold Rush era, prostitution thrived in the predominantly male society. At first, the majority of prostitutes were of Mexican, Spanish, or French descent from Mexico, Brazil, or Peru. Later, they were white prostitutes from the East Coast. Chinese women, most under coercion, also joined this trade. In 1870, among the 3,536 adult Chinese women in California, there were approximately 2,157 listed as prostitutes. The rapid development of prostitution disturbed many middle-class American women. Since the 1870s, Protestant middle-class American women initiated an organized campaign against prostitution on the West Coast. Pressured by the anti-prostitution crusade, several western states' legislatures and the federal government passed laws to bar prostitution. An exemplary measure was the Page Law of 1875, which prohibited the interstate importation and entry of women for the purpose of prostitution. It also imposed fines and punishment on those convicted for such an act. Although written in general terms, the act was executed with the Chinese in mind. The evils of Chinese . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.