Some self indulgence

My next topic – Chinese-American workers and the relationship of the white labor movement to the Chinese community of the Bay Area is kind of enormous. While I continue my 'research' (mostly late night googling), you can tide yourself over with documentation of my efforts.

aryan youth?

Friday afternoon: our intrepid blogger sets off for a research mission.

shit, I missed my train

Damn. Missed my train. Yet, in less time than it takes me to answer my emails, I made it to San Francisco. Near, and yet far from my provincial home in Oak Land. First attraction in SF, the F line.

f line

It's designed for the enjoyment of history nerds like me! And of course to attract tourist dollars. But so what! It's so shiney!

f line boat!

Woo-hoo! Boat train!

OK, time to go to the library. Every time I come to the San Francisco Main branch I play "Where are the books?"

boring library

Nope, not here:

yet more

Not here either.

library 1

None here either. Oh well, who has time for books anyway - time is limited when you've got to think about childcare. I quickly move on to the hallowed grounds of the SF History Center! Here, you must check your bags, sign in at the front desk, and walk silently among the softly-lit shelves.

in the history center

It's best to speak in hushed tones around the historians - they scare easily. And frankly, I was kind of sweaty and incoherent when I arrived. I cornered a soft-spoken librarian and described my blog project to him in detail. When I was finished he nodded helpfully and then said, "It would be easier if you put your request in the form of a question."

He was able to assist me though by piling a large stack of bibliographies in front of me. Since I've never done academic research of any kind, I'm not sure if that's the best place to start, but at least I now know what to look up when I go back.


I really hit pay dirt with this bibliography about Chinese American's in California. I love picturing the poor soul (or enthusiastic obsessive compulsive) who hand wrote the dewey decimal number for each entry into the margins.

I spent most of the afternoon reading from this congressional report on Chinese Immigration – a nauseating foundation for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

joint special committee two

I found out later that the whole ugly thing is digitized. So if I can make it through hundreds of pages of the white men of business and congress falling over each other to present Chinese immigrants as gamblers, prostitutes, and disease vectors, I'll be able to complete it at my leisure.

Several hours later, my childcare was about to run out. I collected my backpack from the quiet librarian, and as I left, he mentioned that perhaps I should check the Chinese Center on the third floor. WTF?! I should have been there in the first place!

Still, I was in a good mood – a history junkie happily fixed – the whole way home. I even stopped to say hello to the folks painting a new mural on the Ella Baker Center. Good luck muralists! Way to represent for Oakland!

Ella Baker Center Mural


Laurie said...

Good times. And who knew you went blond? I didn't know. (I imagine your retort to that is something along the lines of, "If you'd ever pick up the phone or answer your emails ..." Posting grades at 3pm today!)

Seriously, I like the focus you have in this blog. I'm learning a lot. Thank you.

Hillary said...

Wow, I enjoyed going on this trip with you. Nice photos.

Must catch up on your other posts...

I command you to not denigrate your very worthy pastime with quotes/apostrophes. It is actual research, not 'research,' isn't it? :)

Bay Radical said...

Blondes have more fun, and I can prove it, since I've been both.

Bay Radical said...

And Hill, from now on, I vow to avoid quotes, for any reason!

danadane said...

YOu look so sexy waiting for BART, especially with the buckled backpack. Delicious history nerd. I love the photo essay.

sarah said...

Fi this stuff is so yummy... somehow even though I usually find history extremely dull (sorry, world), the primary source stuff is so wonderfully time-capsule-ish that I can't stop looking at it. even the fonts are wonderful (especially the fonts?) :)

thanks for putting this all up!

anniez-k said...

Sorry about the quiet librarian. I'm laughing that he handed you a bibliography, but glad that you found it useful. Although, not as useful as the Center on the 3rd floor would have been (I assume he just wasn't thinking when he forgot to mention that!).

Another trick for asking for help is something like this. Tell the librarian "I'm looking for resources on X, the title of the perfect book or article would be "[fill in the blank]""

This is history and research and you are a real historian, dammit!

Bay Radical said...

Annie: that's a great tip for librarians. I'll use it for sure.

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