Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Learn How Chinese Helped Build America’s Railroads and Its Culture
Sunday, June 16, 2019


The completion of the transcontinental railroad in May 1869 made it possible to cross the country in days, instead of months. And it helped settlers come West, speeding America’s entry onto the world stage as a modern nation.

But little attention has been paid to the Chinese workers who built this game changer 150 years ago.

Gordon H. Chang and Shelley Fisher Fishkin have done that in their new 560-page book “The Chinese and the Iron Road.”

And Chang will discuss his findings in a free lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at Ketchum’s Community library.

The talk is made possible by The Judith and Marshall Meyer Lecture on China. It will be Livestreamed, and a book signing will follow.

 Chang will discuss the history of Chinese railroad workers, who made up 90 percent of the workforce on the western portion of the line. The book shines light on the interconnected economies of China and the United States, how immigration across the pacific changed both nations, the racism the workers encountered, the conditions under which they labored, and their role in shaping the development of the American West as well as contributing to the social and cultural landscapes of the American West.

He will also discuss how china has influenced and continues to influence America.

Chang is professor of American History and director of the Center for East Asian Studies at Stanford University. He and Fiskin are co-directors of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project at Stanford.

Chang’s other books include “Fateful Ties: A History of America’s Preoccupation with China” and “Asian American Art: A History, 1850-1970.”



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