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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

9. Social

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Activities: Author Activities

Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) - Selected Archive Items

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[1111] Anonymous, In the Heart of Chinatown, San Francisco, U.S.A. (1892),
courtesy of the Library of Congress, American Memory.
Thousands of Chinese immigrants were hired to work on the transcontinental railroad and were often given the most dangerous jobs. While discrimination, biased immigration policies, and other hardships limited the rights of Chinese Americans well into the twentieth century, they nevertheless established vibrant communities which preserved many of their traditional ways, such as Chinatown in San Francisco. Cathy Song's poem "Chinatown" depicts her view of this neighborhood. Early examples of Chinese American literature include the poems from Angel Island and the works of Sui Sin Far.

[6164] Arnold Genthe, Street of the Gamblers (By Day) (1898),
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZC4- 3890].
Photograph of pedestrians in San Francisco's Chinatown. Writing at the turn of the twentieth century, Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) combatted stereotypes of Chinese immigrants as heathen, unclean, and untrustworthy and provided insight into the culture of America's Chinatowns.

[6169] Anonymous, Chinatown, New York City (1909),
courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-72475].
Chinese immigrants brought their traditions and customs to America, where they established strong communities to provide familiar support in an otherwise unfamiliar world. Author Maxine Hong Kingston has written personal and deeply reflective portraits of Chinese immigrants' experiences.

[6171] Arnold Genthe, Children Were the Pride, Joy, Beauty, and Chief Delight of the Quarter, Chinatown, San Fransisco (c. 1896 -1906),
courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZC4- 5265].
Four children in traditional Chinese clothing on a sidewalk in San Francisco's Chinatown. Writing about the time this photograph was taken, Sui Sin Far (Edith Maud Eaton) sought to make the lives of Chinese immigrants understandable to white audiences.

[8183] Anonymous, The Voyage, No. 8 (c. 1920), reprinted in Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910 -1940,
courtesy of the University of Washington Press.
"How has anyone to know that my dwelling place would be a prison?" asks this poem, one of many written on the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Center by Chinese immigrants held there by U.S. authorities. Examples of these poems, which play a role in Maxine Hong Kingston's China Men, can be found in the archive, [8184] through [8191].

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