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Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco


Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Unbound Voices brings together the voices of Chinese American women in a fascinating, intimate collection of documents--letters, essays, poems, autobiographies, speeches, testimonials, and oral histories--detailing half a century of their lives in America. Together, these sources provide a captivating mosaic of Chinese women's experiences in their own words, as they tell of making a home for themselves and their families in San Francisco from the Gold Rush years through World War II.

The personal nature of these documents makes for compelling reading. We hear the voices of prostitutes and domestic slavegirls, immigrant wives of merchants, Christians and pagans, homemakers, and social activists alike. We read the stories of daughters who confronted cultural conflicts and racial discrimination; the myriad ways women coped with the Great Depression; and personal contributions to the causes of women's emancipation, Chinese nationalism, workers' rights, and World War II. The symphony of voices presented here lends immediacy and authenticity to our understanding of the Chinese American women's lives.

This rich collection of women's stories also serves to demonstrate collective change over time as well as to highlight individual struggles for survival and advancement in both private and public spheres. An educational tool on researching and reclaiming women's history, Unbound Voices offers us a valuable lesson on how one group of women overcame the legacy of bound feet and bound lives in America. The selections are accompanied by photographs, with extensive introductions and annotation by Judy Yung, a noted authority on primary resources relating to the history of Chinese American women.


An invaluable and finely-crafted collection of oral histories, narratives, interviews, essays, photographs, and memoirs, documenting more than half a century of Chinese immigrant women's lives in the San Francisco area.

Table of Contents

Pt. 1. Lessons from My Mother's Past: Researching Chinese Women's Immigration History. Chin Lung's Affidavit, May 14, 1892. Leong Shee's Testimony, April 18, 1893. Leong Shee's Testimony, July 24, 1929. Jew Law Ying's Coaching Book. Jew Law Ying's and Yung Hin Sen's Testimonies, April 2-3, 1941. Oral History Interview with Jew Law Ying — Pt. 2. Bound Feet: Chinese Women in the Nineteenth Century. Images of Women in Chinese Proverbs: "A Woman without Talent Is Virtuous" Kwong King You, Sau Saang Gwa: "If I Could Just See Him One More Time" A Stain on the Flag / M. G. C. Edholm. Confession of a Chinese Slave-Dealer: How She Bought Her Girls, Smuggled Them into San Francisco, and Why She Has Just Freed Them / Helen Grey. The Chinese Woman in America / Sui Seen [Sin] Far. Worse Than Slaves: Servitude of All Chinese Wives / Louise A. Littleton. Mary Tape, an Outspoken Woman: "Is It a Disgrace to Be Born a Chinese?" — Pt. 3. Unbound Feet: Chinese Immigrant Women, 1902-1929. Sieh King King, China's Joan of Arc: "Men and Women Are Equal and Should Enjoy the Privileges of Equals" Madame Mai's Speech: "How Can It Be That They Look upon Us as Animals?" No More Footbinding (Anonymous). Wong Ah So, Filial Daughter and Prostitute: "The Greatest Virtue in Life Is Reverence to Parents" Law Shee Low, Model Wife and Mother: "We Were All Good Women - Stayed Home and Sewed" Jane Kwong Lee, Community Worker: "Devoting My Best to What Needed to Be Done" The Purpose of the Chinese Women's Jeleab Association / Liu Yilan — Pt. 4. First Steps: The Second Generation, 1920s. The Oriental Girl in the Occident, by One of the "Second Generation" Manifestations of Modern Influences on Second Generation Chinese / Rose Chew. Alice Sue Fun, World Traveler: "A Rebel at Heart" Rose Yuen Ow, Cabaret Dancer: "I've Lived a Full Life" Tiny / Tye Leung Schulze. Some Rambling Thoughts on Why I Am a Christian / Florence Chinn Kwan. Story of a Chinese College Girl (The Conflict between the Old and the Young) / Esther Wong. Flora Belle Jan, Flapper and Writer: "I Long for Unconventionality and Freedom" Gladys Ng Gin, Cocktail Waitress: "That's What Happens When You're Illiterate" — Pt. 5. Long Strides: The Great Depression, 1930s. Ethel Lum, Social Worker: "Careful Social Planning Needed" Jane Kwong Lee, Community Worker: "A Richer Life for All" Wong See Chan, Hardworking Wife and Mother: "The 1930s Were the Hardest" Eva Lowe, Fighter for the Underdog: "You Have to Stand Up for Your Rights: Nobody Will Give You Anything for Nothing" Alice Fong Yu, Schoolteacher and Community Organizer: "I Wanted to Help People, Not Run Their Lives" Sue Ko Lee and the 1938 National Dollar Stores Strike: "It Changed Our Lives" — Pt. 6. In Step: The War Years, 1931-1945. Women's Role in the War of Resistance: "Everyone, Man and Woman, Has a Responsibility in the Rise and Fall of a Nation" Lady P'ing Yo on War: "Women, Show Your Stuff" Jane Kwong Lee, Community Worker: "To Save Our Motherland and Promote Our Status as Women" Dr. Margaret Chung and the Fair-Haired Bastards Club: "Necessity Is the Mother of Invention" Chinese in the United States Today: The War Has Changed Their Lives, by Rose Hum Lee. Marinship Chinese Workers Are Building Ships to Free Their Home Land, by Constance Wong [Jade Snow Wong]. May Lew Gee, Shipyard Worker: "I Was a Tacker on the Graveyard Shift" Ruth Chan Jang, U.S. Air Corps Corporal: "I Would Love to Be Buried at Arlington" Lai Yee Guey and Lorena How, Mother and Daughter: "Making Marks for Heaven" — App. Giving Voice to Chinese American Women: Oral History Methodology.

Product Details

A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco
University of California Press
Edited by:
Judy Yung
Yung, Judy
Judy Yung
Women immigrants
San Francisco (Calif.)
United States - State & Local
Ethnic Studies
Women's Studies - History
Chinese American women
San francisco
Ethnic Studies - General
United States - State & Local - General
Chinese American women - California -
Women immigrants - California -
Ethnic Studies-Chinese American
Gender Studies-General
US History-General
Publication Date:

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » General
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Immigration
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » World History » General

Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco
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Product details 543 pages University of California Press - English 9780520922877 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , An invaluable and finely-crafted collection of oral histories, narratives, interviews, essays, photographs, and memoirs, documenting more than half a century of Chinese immigrant women's lives in the San Francisco area.
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