Date of Degree

9-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Mehdi Bozorgmehr

Subject Categories

Asian American Studies | History | Sociology

Keywords

Discrimination; Ethnic; Laundrymen; Niche; Organizing; Solidarity

Abstract

From the late 1800s to early 1900s, hand laundries developed into the first Chinese historical niche in America in conjunction with Chinese laundrymen's activism, community organization, and ethnic solidarity in response to the proliferation of anti-Chinese discriminatory ordinances and laws instigated by White laundries and government officials. Using primary sources and secondary historical examples, this thesis explores the formation of the niche through the collective actions of two Chinese laundrymen organizations: the Tung Hing Tong “("同心堂")” in California, and the Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance in New York. This thesis demonstrates that not only were both organizations founded differently and for varying purposes, but they also managed two polarizing time periods and historical landscapes for Chinese laundrymen. Yet, their trailblazing contributions and initiatives to organize the Chinese American community led to a legacy of important developments in civil rights and American history.

 
 

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