In 1882 Congress passed the nation’s first major immigration legislation — a law to prevent people of Chinese descent from entering the United States. The law would tear apart families, cut the nation’s Chinese American population in half, and remove the right to become citizens.

Remembering 1882 explores the historical debate around the Exclusion Act from its origins through its full repeal in 1968, the civil rights struggle of Chinese Americans and allies, and the historic importance of habeas corpus in the Chinese American community.

In 2009, the California Legislature passed a Bill that apologizes to Chinese Americans for the the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and other unjust discriminatory laws which resulted in the persecution of Chinese living in California.

In 2012, Congress passed a resolution of regret for the passing of 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. Congresswoman Judy Chu, proclaimed, “We must finally and formally acknowledge these ugly laws that were incompatible with American’s founding principles. We must express the sincere regret that Chinese deserve. By doing so, we will acknowledge that discrimination has no place in our society and we will reaffirm our strong commitment to preserving the civil rights and constitutional protections for all people of every color, every race and from every background.”

Online Exhibit:
CHSA Civil Rights Suite – Remembering 1882

Now available as a traveling exhibit

Drawn from photographs, newspaper commentaries, political cartoons, and other objects in CHSA’s collections, CHSA’s Remembering 1882 exhibit provides a flavor for the intrigue, passion and poignancy of this dramatic chapter in American history. Launched in San Francisco, the exhibit travels throughout the United States to civic institutions and community organizations.


Partial list of where Remembering 1882 has been displayed:

San Francisco History Days at The Old Mint

Innovation Hangar

Ogden, Utah (Promontory Point)

First Chinese Baptist Church, New York NY (Manhattan Chinatown)

Brown v. Board of Education NHS

Cal State East Bay

Cal State Fresno

California State Capitol

Chinatown Community Culture Center (Fairfax, VA)

Chinese Community Center (Houston, TX)

Conference of National Asian Peace Officers Association

Fairfax County Library

Houston City Hall

James R. Browning Courthouse, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

NAPABA Convention

National Steinbeck Center

OCA National Convention

Phillip Burton Federal Building, Northern California District Court

San Francisco History Days at the Old Mint

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service

University of Richmond

University of St. Thomas (Houston, TX)

US Department of Justice

Contact CHSA to request the Remembering 1882 traveling exhibit for your organization.