If They Don't Bring Their Women Here: Chinese Female Immigration before Exclusion
by George Peffer
University of Illinois Press, 1999
Paper: 978-0-252-06777-8 | Cloth: 978-0-252-02469-6
Library of Congress Classification F869.S39C56 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 305.488951073


Seven years before the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Page Law sought to stem the tide of Chinese prostitutes entering the United States. Yet during these seven years, it was not just prostitutes but all Chinese females who encountered at best hostility and at worst expulsion when they reached the "Golden Door." 

George Anthony Peffer looks at enforcement of immigration laws to provide the first detailed account of Chinese American women's lives in the pre-exclusion era. Peffer documents the habeas corpus trials in which the wives and daughters of Chinese laborers were required to prove their status as legal immigrants or return to China. He also surveys the virulently anti-Chinese coverage of these trials and the issue of Chinese immigration received in California newspapers, confirming that Chinatown's prostitution industry so dominated the popular imagination as to render other classes of female immigrants all but invisible. 

Insightful and groundbreaking, If They Don't Bring Their Women Here amplifies the voices of Chinese immigrant women and establishes a place for them within the historiographic framework of Chinese American studies.

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