Chinese Americans challenged Exclusion and discrimination even while they struggled within its limits to build lives for themselves in the US and support relatives in China. This third part of the exhibit follows the Chin family of New York, whose family saga sheds light on many Chinese American journeys. The exhibit also explores momentous national and world events that affected Chinese Americans, including the repeal of Exclusion in 1943.

Chin family portrait. Courtesy of the family of Linda and Pang F. Chin.

Chin family portrait. Courtesy of the family of Linda and Pang F. Chin.

Large, illustrated story panels relay the story of the Chins of New York, as told to us by Amy Chin, a Bronx-born New Yorker who has researched and preserved her family history. Many family items, including the sign from the family’s laundry and the personal effects of a Chin who served in World War II, are incorporated into the displays.

Mrs. James Lee teaching war brides English, 1948. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Mrs. James Lee teaching war brides English, 1948. San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

Interspersed throughout this section are the larger international events influencing the lives of Chinese Americans. From World War II and the Cold War to immigration reform and Nixon’s visit to China, photographs, magazines, films, and objects convey the broader national and global narrative.

Over years of cold and hot wars in Asia, movements for social change, and substantial new waves of immigration, descendants of earlier Chinese immigrants and newcomers alike sought to advance their opportunities and grapple with emerging challenges. From increasingly divergent bases of historical experience and perspective, Chinese Americans continued to navigate their relationship to and identities as Americans.

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