Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese laborers worked under perilous conditions and at a grueling pace to help finish the construction of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. Yet, these contributions have been all too often overlooked and neglected in celebrations of this monumental achievement. The laborers’ hard work under low pay was viewed as a looming threat to local laborers. The hostility toward Chinese immigrants thus escalated, eventually culminating in the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, which remained in effect until 1943.
On display in the 2nd floor Study Commons area of Gleeson is a new exhibit paying tribute to the Chinese workers who were instrumental in building the nation’s first Transcontinental Railroad nearly 150 years ago. Produced by the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA) and the Chinese Railroad Workers Project at Stanford University (CRRW), the exhibit utilizes graphic panels to feature historical and contemporary photos, illustrations, stories of descendants of the workers, accompanied by bilingual Chinese/English text written by Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford University (CRRW).
To learn more in depth about this important chapter in American history and the efforts now underway to finally “give voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor… helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West” (CRRW project), please join us for a panel discussion in celebration of the exhibit at Gleeson Library:
Reclaiming History, Reconstructing Lives: Chinese Laborers and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad
Tuesday, April 11, 2017, 5:00pm-6:30pm
USF Gleeson Library 2nd floor Study Commons
2495 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco
Sue Lee, Executive Director, Chinese Historical Society of America
Hilton Obenzinger, Associate Director, Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project, Stanford University
Paulette Liang, Chinese Railroad worker descendant
Moderated by James Zarsadiaz, Assistant Professor of History, University of San Francisco
Light refreshments will be served. This event is free and open to the public.
Panel program sponsored by Gleeson Library | Geschke Center and the Asian Pacific American Studies Program.
For more information, visit USF Gleeson Library’s website or contact Sherise Kimura (kimura at usfca.edu) or Jessica Lu (zjlu at usfca.edu).