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The Chinese-American Experience in Minnesota
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Photo of child raising money for community fund campaign, 1925

Child raising money for community fund campaign, 1925

Chinese Americans in Twin Cities and Duluth worked with the Red Cross to raise money for famine relief in China in 1912, in the 1920s, and during World War II.

Between 1850 and 1950, more Christian missionaries were sent to China from Minnesota than from any other state. When immigrants arrived in Minnesota, churches and YMCAs provided the most important links to the new country, such as English classes. Like other ethnic groups, Minnesota's Chinese gathered strength by gathering together-in church and Bible study groups, language classes, business associations, student groups, and cultural organizations.

Photo of young men outside of Minneapolis YMCA about 1910-19Young men outside of Minneapolis YMCA, about 1910-19

To get around the restrictions of the Exclusion Act of 1882, many young Chinese men became "paper sons." Since immigration was largely restricted to immediate family members of Chinese residents, many Chinese claimed more children than they actually had, who were then allowed into the country. A U.S.-government "confession program" in 1955 pardoned the undocumented immigrants. Photo courtesy Kantz Family, YMCA Archives, University of Minnesota

Photo of a Bible class at the First Baptist Church in St. Paul, about 1910Judith Moy (front center, behind children) and Bible class, First Baptist Church, St. Paul, about 1910

Arriving in St. Paul in 1904, Judith Moy (Wong Shee) joined a small circle of Chinese merchants' wives living in the Twin Cities. Fluent in English, she was active in community organizations and assisted customers at her husband's restaurant, Kwong Tung Low & Company.

Photo of staff of the 'Chinese Weekly' about 1925 Staff of the Chinese Weekly, about 1925

Members of the Twin Cities Chinese community, under the leadership of Henry Yep, published a Chinese-language newspaper called Sing Kee Po (Chinese Weekly). Each issue included foreign and domestic news as well as advertisements for Chinese businesses.

Photo of on Leong Chinese business association, Minneapolis, 1920On Leong Chinese business association, Minneapolis, 1920

On Leong was a national organization of Chinese merchants. A Minneapolis newspaper reported: "At the convention are many Chinese who have degrees from American colleges. Every delegate is a successful businessman."


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