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Listen to the forgotten story of Chinese American experiences in western lumber camps.
One seldom pictures a Chinese man in the American West as a lumberjack (cutting and transporting trees) but in the 1860s-1900s, many Chinese chose that occupation. Some had performed this task in southeastern China, but the Manchu (Qing) government had ordered forests (where bandits and rebels hid) to be burned and converted to tea plantations because of the high value of tea for the western export market. Attracted to the American West for first mining and then railroad construction, several thousand found work in the forests because of the growing need for wood products. This lecture covers their forgotten story of their experiences in the woods, cutting and transporting wood and cooking for the men in the western lumber camps.
Sue Fawn Chung was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and graduated from UCLA (BA), Harvard (A.M.), and UCB (Ph.D.). She taught at UNLV in History Department from 1975-2014, specializing in Chinese history, Chinese art history, and Chinese American history. She is the author of The Chinese in the Woods: Logging and Lumbering in the American West
. (2015), In Pursuit of Gold: Chinese American Miners and Merchants in the American West
(2011), The Chinese in Nevada
(2011), and Chinese American Death Rituals: Respecting the Ancestors
(2005) as well as numerous articles. She is currently working on a book manuscript on Chinese railroad workers in the American west.
She has appeared in numerous media productions including "The Chinese in Sin City", for the Neon Museum (2021), "No Passport Required: Las Vegas" for PBS (2020), and "Preservation 101" for the National Trust for Historic Preservation (2015). She also helps curate museum exhibits and serves on many community committees. She won the Bancroft Book Honor Award for In Pursuit of Gold (2013), the UNLV Schmeidel Award for Outstanding Community Service (2008), the UNLV Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award (1998) and the Nevada Humanities Outstanding Nevadan Award (1996).