New and Innovative Approaches to Overseas Chinese Archaeology

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2015

In the last half of the nineteenth century nearly 400,000 peopleemigrated from Southern China to the United States. Upon arriving inthe country these "Overseas Chinese" individuals lived and worked inmyriad places, from the bustling streets of large, urban Chinatowns tosparsely populated rural railroad and mining camps. While there is nosingle Overseas Chinese narrative the efforts of these individuals hasleft lasting marks including large and small Chinatown communities,the expansion of industries such as agriculture and mining, and eventhe completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. This session explores the material traces of the Overseas Chinese who came to the United States in the nineteenth century. Rather thanfocusing on a particular aspect of life or region of the country, thissession instead draws its strength by highlighting the diversity ingeographic location, community scale, and daily practices experiencedby Chinese people in the United States. Paper topics include in-depthsingle-site analyses, broad surveys of related sites such as railroadcamps, thematic inquiries along lines such as health and diet, andnovel theoretical and methodological strategies for Overseas Chinesearchaeology.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-17 of 17)

  • Documents (17)

Documents
  • Chinese Railroad Workers in Wyoming and Mongolia, 1890-1955 (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Dudley Gardner. Adreanna Jensen.

    Chinese railroad laborers, who worked overseas, left a distinct archaeological foot print where ever they lived. Here we want to look at how this footprint is manifested in Mongolia and Wyoming (1890-1955). This comparison considers the similarity in topography and the dissimilarity in the land the immigrants worked in. What is intriguing is the similarity in material culture and spatial organization. We want to briefly present the similarities and dissimilarities between the two experiences,...

  • Ethnic Chinese at Central Pacific Railroad Maintenance Camps (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Michael Polk.

    The Central Pacific Railroad was completed in May 1869 due, in large part, to the work of thousands of ethnic Chinese railroad workers. After the railroad was complete, it was necessary to upgrade the railroad and carry out maintenance on the far flung transportation network. Railroad documents, previous excavations of ethnic Chinese worker camps in Nevada and recently recorded camps near Promontory Summit, Utah, show that Chinese workers continued to be employed for decades after 1869. It is...

  • Exploring Healthcare Practices of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah Heffner.

    Chinese laborers on the North American transcontinental railroads performed dangerous and labor-intensive work, and many died or were seriously injured as a result of explosions, cave-ins, and severe and unpredictable weather. These workers received meager wages and may have faced additional health risks from ethnic violence and malnutrition. Little is known about how these individuals treated their injuries and ailments and, to this date, not a single document written by a Chinese railroad...

  • Exploring Healthcare Practices of Chinese Railroad Workers in North America (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Sarah C Heffner.

    Chinese laborers on the North American transcontinental railroads performed dangerous and labor-intensive work, and many died or were seriously injured as a result of explosions, cave-ins, and severe and unpredictable weather. These workers received meager wages and may have faced additional health risks from ethnic violence and malnutrition. Little is known about how these individuals treated their injuries and ailments and, to this date, not a single document written by a Chinese railroad...

  • Getting Burned: Fire, Politics, and Cultural Landscapes in the American West (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chelsea Rose.

    The National Historic Landmark town of Jacksonville, Oregon is celebrated for its nineteenth century past. While saloons, hotels, and shops survive as testament to the days of the Oregon gold rush, the selective preservation of the built environment has created a romanticized frontier landscape. A sleepy park now covers the once bustling Chinese Quarter, which burned to the ground in 1888. Recent public archaeology excavations revealed the remains of a burned building, and led to a fruitful...

  • Getting Burned: Fire, Politics, and Cultural Landscapes in the American West (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Chelsea E. Rose.

    The National Historic Landmark town of Jacksonville, Oregon is celebrated for its nineteenth century past.  While saloons, hotels, and shops survive as testament to the days of the Oregon gold rush, the selective preservation of the built environment has created a romanticized frontier landscape.  A sleepy park now covers the once bustling Chinese Quarter, which burned to the ground in 1888. Recent public archaeology excavations revealed the remains of a burned building, and led to a fruitful...

  • Identity and Isolation: The Material Realities of an (almost) Isolated Household in Sandpoint, Idaho (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Molly E Swords. Mark Warner.

    A great deal of archaeology conducted on Chinese immigrant communities in the United States has documented the persistence of an array of traditional cultural practices after arrival.  Recent work in Sandpoint, Idaho has identified a Chinese household/business whose material world contrasts with what many other archaeologists have previously reported on.  What was identified was an amalgamation of continued use of Chinese goods with the incorporation of an array of western habits, particularly...

  • Immigration Service Records and the Archaeology of Chinatown, The Dalles, Oregon (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rick McClure.

    As a key transportation hub and supply center on the Columbia River during the 19th century, the city of The Dalles, Oregon attracted significant numbers of overseas Chinese workers and merchants. By the 1880s a distinct "Chinatown" district had emerged. Enforcement of the Chinese Exclusion Act included close monitoring of the population by Federal agents. Records of the Immigration Service housed at the Seattle branch of the National Archives include the case files for many community residents....

  • Plant and Animal Consumption in the Market Street Chinatown, San Jose, California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ryan Kennedy.

    The Market Street Chinatown was a major urban Chinese community in nineteenth century San Jose, California. From 1866 to 1887, the community housed and served as a home base to several thousand Chinese residents and laborers. Excavated in the 1980s, the Market Street Chinatown yielded an incredibly rich collection of material culture as well as faunal and floral remains. This paper examines food consumption and food choice amongst Market Street’s nineteenth century Chinese residents. The author...

  • Plants, Animals, and Food Choice Within the Market Street Chinatown, San Jose, California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ryan Kennedy.

    The Market Street Chinatown was a major urban Chinese community in nineteenth century San Jose, California. From 1866 to 1887, the community housed and served as a home base to several thousand Chinese residents and laborers. Excavated in the 1980s, the Market Street Chinatown yielded an incredibly rich collection of material culture as well as faunal and floral remains. This paper examines food consumption and food choice amongst Market Street's nineteenth century Chinese residents. The author...

  • Railroad Camps in the High Sierras (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John P. Molenda.

    Railroad construction camps occupied by Chinese laborers have been investigated archaeologically since the 1960s. The upcoming 150 year anniversary of the construction of the first transcontinental railroad has spurred renewed interest in these sites. This paper will discuss what we have learned from previous studies of railroad work camps and how they inform current interpretations, with special emphasis on drawing connections between the archaeological record and theoretical frameworks for...

  • "Rebuilding" Chinatown in The Dalles, Oregon (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Eric B. Gleason.

    Uncovered during ongoing efforts to restore the last standing Chinese operated laundry and merchandise store in The Dalles, Oregon, test excavation at site 35WS453 has exposed the deep roots of a largely vanished community. The thick stratified deposits at the site are the product of nearly a century’s worth of intensive occupation, followed by a long period of near abandonment. By coupling archival research with the archaeological record, we are gaining a clearer understanding of the site...

  • Scraping Our Way To The Past: A Methodological Approach For Chinese Rural Work Camps (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary L. Maniery.

    Recovering meaningful information from ephemeral, short-term work camps in the west is challenging, given the brief occupation time, absence of shelters other than tents or portable structures, and informal layout and design.  One methodological approach that has proved effective for research at camps with shallow or no subsurface deposits focuses on exposing and investigating the horizontal deposits across the sites.  Archaeological studies of Chinese occupied camps related to mining, railroad...

  • Scraping Our Way To The Past:A Methodological Approach for Chinese Rural Work Camps (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mary Maniery.

    Recovering meaningful information from ephemeral, short-term work camps in the west is challenging, given the brief occupation time, absence of shelters other than tents or portable structures, and informal layout and design. One methodological approach that has proved effective for research at camps with shallow or no subsurface deposits focuses on exposing and investigating the horizontal deposits across the sites. Archaeological studies of Chinese occupied camps related to mining, railroad...

  • Unearthing Sandpoint’s Chinatown: the Archaeology of Sandpoint, Idaho’s Overseas Chinese (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Molly Swords.

    Established in the early 1880s, Sandpoint, Idaho became a bustling railroad and lumber town with commercial businesses sprouting up along the Northern Pacific railroad tracks. Overseas Chinese came through the town when building the railroad, but quickly moved on along with the construction. Who then, were the Overseas Chinese that came and settled, making Sandpoint their home? Archaeological investigations of the original town site uncovered a structure referred to as Sandpoint’s "Chinatown"...

  • Urban Life Through the Lens of Glass: A Brief Analysis of Glass Tableware and Flaked Objects from the 19th Century San Jose Market Street Chinatown, California (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathan Acebo.

    The Market Street Chinatown archaeological collection offers a diverse assemblage of artifacts that shed light on the urban social lives of Overseas Chinese communities in San Jose, California during the late 19th century (1866-1887). Glass objects constitute a considerable percentage of the total archaeological collection and includes a massive assortment of medicinal and cuisine containers, architectural features, and domestic objects. The bricolage collection of glass permits discriminate...

  • What Have We Done, What Are We Doing, and Where Are We Going with Overseas Chinese Archaeology? (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Douglas Ross.

    According to this session’s organizers there is no dominant Overseas Chinese narrative, but rather one characterized by diversity. They perceive this diversity as a strength and seek to highlight the range of both Chinese experiences and recent archaeological approaches to their lives. Papers address topics ranging from lifeways of urban merchants to healthcare practices of rural railroad workers, consumer habits of Chinatown residents, and the role of burned sites in creating highly politicized...