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America's History in the Making

Resource Archive: Search Results

Wells Fargo&Company Express Directory of Chinese Business Houses

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Wells Fargo&Company, Directory of Chinese Business Houses (1878). Photo used with permission from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Creator Wells Fargo&Company Express
Context Anti-Chinese hostility occurred during the 1870s and 1880s, but some companies profited from doing business with Chinese immigrants.
Audience Chinese merchants in California, Nevada, and Oregon
Purpose To further promote the economic viability of Chinese communities by facilitating commerce with Chinese businesses on the West Coast

Historical Significance

During the height of the anti-Chinese movement, Wells Fargo produced English-Chinese merchant directories during the 1870s, and again in 1882--the same year that the Chinese Exclusion Act restricted Chinese immigration. Chinese communities in remote towns and mining camps relied on Wells Fargo's express service to communicate with Asian merchants and importers in cities of the West. The directories not only benefited Chinese communities, but also bridged the language barrier separating Chinese communities from English-speaking communities. At the Chicago exposition of 1893, Wells Fargo displayed an advertisement signaling its reliance on Chinese businesses: "The Company by its fair and impartial treatment of the public, has always enjoyed the special favor and patronage of the Chinese of the Pacific Coast, who have unbounded faith in its responsibility and integrity, both as an Express and a Bank."

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