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About this collection

The Chinese Historical Society of Southern California Collection documents artifacts systematically excavated from two sites in Southern California. The first site is represented by about 1,040 color images of artifacts from the original Los Angeles Chinatown; an additional 150 images document artifacts from the site of a Chinese laundry in Santa Barbara. These two outstanding Chinese Historical Society of Los Angeles artifact collections are among the largest and best documented assemblage of cultural materials on Chinese settlement in the United States. Excavated from unmixed dated sites with developed historical context, the collections represent tremendous research potential.

Chinese Historical Society Santa Barbara artifacts. The first collection consists of materials excavated in 1992 during the seismic upgrading by the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation of an old adobe structure that for about 25 years housed a Chinese laundry. These materials represent a valuable resource for reconstructing a narrower range of Chinese working class daily life in Santa Barbara from about the mid 1880s to 1905.

Chinese Historical Society Chinatown artifacts. The second and larger collection consists of materials systematically excavated, in October/November 1989 and February/March 1991, during the construction of the Metro Rail Red Line by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Unearthed from a sealed and unmixed deposit underneath Union Station, the collection conveys information on the daily life and activities of people from all walks of life and all classes of the Chinese community from the1880's to 1933. Valuable data on food and subsistence, medicinal preparations and health practices, household technology, recreation, art, ritual patterns of space usage, and interaction with the Anglo community can be garnered from the objects, and changes over time may also be traced stratigraphically.

The digitization of artifacts from these two sites was supported by a grant from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.

 

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