Chinese-American women's labor in 19th century (x H-Women)
[H-Women has been host to a fruitful discussion on Chinese American women's labor in 19th-century United States. Here are four postings on this topic. JB]
> Date: Sun Mar 19 18:44:27 1995
> From: Joyce A Berkman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
For Chinese women's labor in the nineteenth century Lucie Cheng Hirata's essays on Chinese prostitutes in California are excellent.
Joyce A Berkman
> Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 09:41:27 -0600 > From: email@example.com
A book I recommended a week or so ago will also help with Chinese women's labor._Race Gender & Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States_ by Teresa L. Amott & Julie A. Matthaei. There is probably bibliographical reference materials in the notes section of their book also. (One whole chapter on Asian American women.)
> Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 09:42:49 -0600 > From: Virginia T. Bemis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One book that could prove useful is Jade Snow Wong's "Fifth Chinese Daughter." She tells a good deal about her father's clothing factory, and the women workers there, including her mother and many of the neighbors. Her perspective is from the next generation, but she was obviously very observant as a child when her family lived over the factory (a small one) and she was growing up as part of the Chinese community. She also wrote a sequel, but it deals with the post WWII years, so it probably falls outside the scope of the study. 1000 Pieces of Gold was made into a film, and using that might provide useful angles. Since Charlie Bemis was apparently a distant cousin, I suppose that means that Polly is a relative by marriage of mine.
Virginia Bemis voice: 419 289-5120
Ashland, OH 44805
> Date: Sun, 19 Mar 1995 09:49:25 -0600 > From: Jill Fields <email@example.com>
I found an interesting unpublished research paper in the Los Angeles Central Public Library entitled "The Economic and Social Position of the Garment Industry in San Francisco's Chinatown." It dates from June 1942 and was written by USC student Clayton Sterling Gleason. He cites an Oct 1940 report by the U.S. Dept of Labor about working conditions in Chinatown. Gleason also notes how piece rates were used by the women to control the pace of work, and to allow them flexible hours so they could come and go in response to household responsibilities and child care needs. On the other hand, this did mean, of course, that they worked long hours, often until midnight. Another interesting point was their resistance to rationalization of production, which the workers rightly saw as threatening to slower workers job security. Slower workers were most often older women, and Gleason sees younger women's solidarity with them
This info may be too late in the century for the requesting researcher, but I hope it will be helpful for thinking about other possible resources.
University of Southern California
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