Unearthing History

When the Rose Pak station in San Francisco Chinatown was being built, archaeologists uncovered a basement beneath the sidewalk at 1018 Stockton Street. Hidden there were treadle sewing machines from the 1870s that had been buried during the 1906 earthquake. These sewing machines were sealed in time, buried by fill as the streets were widened and new buildings were constructed on top of the rubble. Unearthing them today directly connects us to the past, to the specific history of this site, and the people that lived here. They help unveil a broader history of an industry that was largely responsible for shaping, supporting, and expanding San Francisco Chinatown into what it is today.

挖掘歷史

當這座車站建造時,考古學家在Stockton街1018號的人行道下發現了一個地下室。藏在那裏的是19世紀70年代製造的腳踏式縫紉機。這些用腳驅動的縫紉機在那個時期密封,在1906年的地震中被掩埋,在廢墟上建起新建築時被蓋了起來。發掘它們將我們與那些在這裏生活和工作的人的歷史聯繫起來。它們還有助於揭示一個更廣泛的行業故事,這個行業幫助塑造了舊金山唐人街的今天。

From Rust To Relic

In the late 1870s, a series of Chinese businesses operated at 1018 Stockton including cigar and garment factories and a lodging house. The garment factories operated until 1896 when the location became Wong Chan Hing & Co. The business sold sewing machines, spool cotton, silk, and other clothing manufacturing products. The sewing machines found by archaeologists in the basement may have been the store’s outdated inventory. Thanks to archaeology, those old sewing machines buried beneath earthquake debris, long rusted silent, are now important relics giving voice to the hundreds of Chinese residents who worked and lived at 1018 Stockton Street. Although we do not know each of their individual stories, together they bring to life the history of this site, this industry, and the broader Chinatown story.

從鏽跡到遺跡

19世紀70年代末,一系列的中國企業在Stockton1018號經營,包括雪茄廠、服裝廠和一個寄宿公寓。這些服裝廠一直經營到1896年,當時的廠址變成了Wong Chan Hing有限公司。該公司銷售縫紉機、線軸棉、絲綢和其他服裝製造產品。考古學家在地下室發現的縫紉機可能是這家商店過時的存貨。多虧了考古工作,那些被埋在地震廢墟下鏽跡斑斑的舊縫紉機,如今已成爲重要的文物,爲在Stockton街1018號工作和生活的數百名中國居民發聲。雖然我們不知道他們每一個人的故事,但他們把這個地方的歷史、這個行業和更廣泛的唐人街的故事帶到了生活中。

Chinese Seamstresses: It Was A Man’s World

San Francisco’s Chinatown holds the distinction of being the oldest Chinatown in the nation and largest enclave outside of China (Yung 2006:7). Its history begins not long after the fateful discovery of gold in the California hills in 1849. During the Gold Rush, young men flocked to America. Anti-Chinese sentiment took hold and continued in the mid-1850s and as yields from gold mines slowly decreased, miners began returning to San Francisco looking for work. Chinese laborers were unfairly blamed for the state of general unemployment.

One of the main industries that supported the hustle and bustle of 19th century Chinatown was the garment industry. Garment factories first emerged in San Francisco Chinatown in the 1860s. By 1880, 80% of shirt makers and more than 90% of undergarment makers in San Francisco were Chinese. Chinatown was unique because the Chinese “seamstresses” who worked in the garment factories were all men. Typical Victorian seamstresses at that time were female, but a lack of Chinese women combined with discriminatory laws and practices that forced the Chinese out of other industries such as gold mining, led to an all-male workforce. The sewing machines found in the basement of 1018 Stockton Street were likely used by these pioneering Chinese garment workers.

中國女裁縫

支撐19世紀唐人街的主要產業之一是服裝業。19世紀60年代,中國企業家建立了服裝廠,以滿足加州淘金熱帶來的城市人口激增的需求。到1880年,舊金山80%以上的襯衫和內衣製造商都是中國人。唐人街之所以獨特,是因爲從事早期針線業的中國“女裁縫”都是男性。維多利亞時代典型的女裁縫都是女性,但歧視性的法律阻止了許多中國女性的移民,並迫使中國男性離開其他行業,導致勞動力全是男性。早期中國工人很可能使用了從Stockton街1018號地下室挖掘出來的機器。

The Guilds

Chinatown’s early male garment workers realized the value of their skills. They banded together to form labor guilds, a practice that had been popular in China. These guilds were formed to provide job security, protection, decent working conditions, and higher wages. In addition to these goals, the guilds in San Francisco also aimed to protect its members from being taken advantage of, since many of them did not speak English. Some believed that the most important goal of the guilds was, “to protect their members from being wronged by white people”. Garment industry workers were highly skilled and very organized so their guilds grew quite powerful. They helped make the garment industry a huge success and were rewarded with job security and higher wages than most other Chinatown workers.

公會

意識到自己技能的價值,唐人街早期的製衣工人聯合起來成立了工會,這種做法在中國很流行。這些工會提供了工作保障、體面的工作條件和更高的工資。在舊金山,許多工會成員不會說英語,成爲被剝削的目標。一些人認爲,舊金山工會最重要的目標是“保護其成員不受白人的冤枉”。服裝行業的工人技能很高,非常有組織,所以他們的工會變得相當強大。他們幫助這座城市的服裝業取得了巨大的成功,並獲得了工作保障和比唐人街大多數其他工人更高的工資。

Underpaid And Overworked

By the early 1900s, Chinatown’s male garment workers were getting old. It was difficult to replace them as no young male laborers were being let into the country after the passing of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. However, Chinese merchants were still able to bring over their families. This created a new pool of cheap labor made up of immigrant women who spoke little to no English and had no other opportunities for work besides the garment industry. By the 1920s, Chinatown garment workers were almost all female. Their experience in the industry was very different from male workers. Women were not allowed to join labor guilds so they had no protection or bargaining power. They were paid less than men and were forced to work long hours under harsh conditions. In the meantime the San Francisco garment industry prospered on the backs of these underpaid and overworked female workers.

低收入和過度工作

到了20世紀初,唐人街的許多男性製衣工人年紀太大,被女性取代。到20世紀20年代,唐人街的製衣工人幾乎都是女性。她們在該行業的經歷與男性工人截然不同。婦女不允許加入工會,因此她們沒有保護或議價權。她們的工資比男性低,被迫在惡劣的條件下長時間工作。與此同時,舊金山的製衣業卻從女性工人的低工資和超負荷工作中獲利。

All She Did Was Sew

By the 1930s, the garment industry directly or indirectly affected more than half of the Chinatown community, making it one of the most important influences on the economy, character, and livelihood of San Francisco Chinatown. Growth continued and by the 1960s Chinatown factories produced about half of San Francisco’s clothing output. Those who lived and grew up there at that time remember a community in which everyone, or everyone’s mother, sewed. Mothers worked long hours at factories, came home to cook and take care of children, and then continued sewing at home late into the night. Babies were brought to the
factory while their mothers worked, young children played in and around factories after school, and older kids helped out at the workplace and at home. Sewing machines, factories, and mothers constantly working defined the experience of growing up in San Francisco Chinatown.

她做的所有只是縫紉 …

到20世紀30年代,服裝業影響了唐人街一半以上的社區,使其成爲影響唐人街經濟和特色的最重要因素之一。到20世紀60年代,唐人街的工廠生產了舊金山大約一半的服裝。在那裏長大的人記得,在那個社區,幾乎每個人的母親都做縫紉。母親們在工廠工作很長時間,回家做飯和照顧孩子,然後繼續在家縫紉到深夜。當他們的母親工作時,嬰兒被帶到工廠。小孩子放學後在工廠裏玩耍。服裝行業是20世紀中期舊金山唐人街成長過程中始終存在的一部分。

Fighting Back

Organized labor has essentially been a part of the Chinatown garment industry since its origin, beginning with traditional all-male guilds. Later, attempts were made at unionizing the mostly female Chinatown garment workers. A Chinese branch of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (CLGWU) was established in 1937. In 1938, the CLGWU launched a strike against the National Dollar Store, owned by one of the nation’s wealthiest and powerful
Chinese businessmen. The strike lasted a record 105 days, the longest strike in San Francisco Chinatown garment industry history. Although the CLGWU eventually disbanded, their successful strike against the National Dollar Store helped prove the strength and power workers could wield when they banded together, and helped achieve better wages and conditions overall.

反擊

自唐人街的製衣業誕生以來,有組織的勞工就一直是其中的一部分,從全男性工會開始。後來,中國城的製衣工人大多是女性,她們試圖將這些工人組成工會。國際女製衣工人工會(CLGWU)的中國分會成立於1937年。1938年,CLGWU發起了一場針對National Dollar Store的罷工,持續了105天,是舊金山唐人街服裝業歷史上持續時間最長的罷工。儘管CLGWU最終解散了,但他們對National Dollar Store的成功罷工幫助他們獲得了更好的工資和整體條件,並證明了工人團結起來可以發揮力量和權力。