For those interested in 19th Century Chinese labor migrations to the West, Stanford University has launched a project on Chinese railroad Workers with plenty of online materials and upcoming events in 2015.
“Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese migrants toiled at a grueling pace and in perilous working conditions to help construct America’s First Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West. The Project coordinates research in the United States and Asia in order to create an on-line digital archive available to all. The Project is also organizing major conferences and public events at Stanford and in China in 2015 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of large numbers of Chinese to work on the railroad.
2015 will be the 150th anniversary of the introduction of large numbers of Chinese workers on the construction of the first transcontinental railway across North America, a project that culminated with Leland Stanford driving the famous “golden spike” completing the line. The labor of these Chinese workers (who eventually numbered between 10-15,000 at any one moment) was central to creating the wealth that Leland Stanford used to found Stanford University. But these workers have never received the attention they deserve. We know relatively little about their lives. What led them to come to the United States? What experiences did they have in their arduous work? How did they live their daily lives? What kinds of communities did they create? How did their work on the railroad change the lives of their families in China and how did it change the lives of the workers themselves, both those who returned to China or went elsewhere after the railroad’s completion and those who stayed in the U.S.?”