A Chinese Laborer Shields His Face from the Camera
The majority of Chinatown's residents were male laborers who worked in jobs like constructing railroads, mining, and agriculture. Many workers left their families in China, planning to return after they had made enough money. The rise of anti-Chinese violence and prejudice forced many Chinese to retreat to San Francisco's Chinatown. Contracts, usually for low-paying and dangerous jobs, were sporadic. Many migrant workers lodged in the rooms near this alley during the off seasons. Workers formed strong relationships with each other, pooling their money to rent rooms and buy food, and forming guilds and clan associations. Chinatown's bachelors often took on the role of informally looking after children who played in the street, leading the children to call all men, whether they were related or not, "uncles."
Chinese laborers were the targets of violence from anti-Chinese mobs and unions; many laborers sought refuge and community in the streets of San Francisco's Chinatown
Steady work was hard to come by. Being a house servant for a wealthy family and laundry work became highly sought after positions.
Migrant workers worked in the agricultural and mining sectors of the west.
High proportion of male immigrants reflected in the term "bachelor society"
In response to the demand for white workers, Congress passed the Exclusion Act in 1882 which severely curtailed their rights and job opportunities.
Creator | Arnold Genthe
Item Type | Photograph
Cite This document | Arnold Genthe, “A Chinese Laborer Shields His Face from the Camera,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed April 18, 2021, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1042.