Chinese Laundries

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Tickets to Survival on Gold Mountain


A social history of the role of the Chinese laundry on the survival of early Chinese immigrants in the U.S. during the Chinese Exclusion law period, 1882-1943, and in Canada during the years of the Head Tax, 1885-1923, and exclusion law, 1923-1947. Why and how Chinese got into the laundry business and how they had to fight discriminatory laws and competition from white-owned laundries to survive. Description of their lives, work demands, and living conditions. Reflections by a sample of children who grew up living in the backs of their laundries provide vivid first-person glimpses of the difficult lives of Chinese laundrymen and their families.

John Jung grew up in Macon, Georgia, where his Chinese immigrant parents operated a laundry for more than 20 years and raised the only Chinese family in town.  He was a professor of psychology for 40 years and upon retiring from California State University, Long Beach, he began a new career on the history of the Chinese American experience.   He has published five books about Chinese immigrants running family businesses such as laundries, grocery stores and restaurants that afforded their children opportunities for better lives.  The goal of these books is to inspire, educate, and preserve the history of the many contributions of the Chinese to American society.

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Excerpts from 2007 book talk and signing at the Berkeley Chinese Community Church

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