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Canton Footprints
Sacramento's Chinese Legacy
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Canton Footprints
Sacramento's Chinese Legacy

By Philip P. Choy
2007, 158 pages, Paperback.

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CANTON FOOTPRINTS is the latest work of eminent Chinese American historian Philip P. Choy. The author brings the unique perspective that it was America's interest in trade with China that led to the coming of the Chinese to California.

Choy takes us back to 1784 when Captain Samuel Shaw from the ship Empress of China arrived in Canton to compete with European nations for the treasures of China. This impetus for "things Chinese" led to the nation's expansion westward-the subsequent discovery of gold in California led to the settlement of the West.

During the gold rush of 1849, Sacramento was the destination for many Chinese. Sacramento's place as the way station to the gold fields, the origin of the Transcontinental Railroad, and a center of California agriculture gave it a unique role in Chinese American history.

Over 40 fascinating oral histories were taken for the research of this book. These stories are testaments as to how, under an insecure environment clouded by unfair exclusion laws, the Chinese went from unwelcome immigrant to valued citizens. For the majority, the American dream was never fulfilled. Later generations were the beneficiaries of their perseverance and sacrifices. From humble beginnings, some started "mom and pop" grocery stores that became multi-million dollar supermarket chains. Some earned advanced degrees to become doctors and engineers. One of those engineers became the first Chinese American mayor of Sacramento.

This book contains 178 historical photographs from private collections and the Anna Wong Lee Collection deposited with the Sacramento Archives & Museum Collection Center. In addition, the author has included numerous l9th century lithographs and engravings from periodicals in his private collection.

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Background on Philip P. Choy

Philip P. Choy was born and raised in San Francisco Chinatown. A retired architect, he is a renowned historian and authority on Chinese America. He co-edited A History of the Chinese in California: A Syllabus, with Thomas W. Chinn and Him Mark Lai and also The Coming Man: 19th Century Perceptions of the Chinese with Lorraine Dong and Marion Horn. In 1969, with Him Mark Lai, he taught the nation's first Chinese American history course at San Francisco State University and throughout his career taught courses at other universities and was a frequent speaker and lecturer.

Choy has produced and consulted on numerous projects, exhibits, and media presentations. In 1969, Choy consulted on and narrated the KRON six-part television series about the Chinese in America, Gum Saan Haak. He served on the China Cove Historical Advisory Committee in 1974 to preserve the Angel Island Immigration Station and in 1993 he prepared the case report that placed the Station on the National Registry of Historic Places.

In 1984, he worked with Assemblyman Art Agnos to create the original diorama featuring the life size Chinese laborers exhibited at the California State Railroad Museum and in 1998 worked with the Chinese American Council of Sacramento to produce the "Chinese Pioneers of Sacramento" permanent exhibit located in the lobby of the Federal Courthouse.

Choy firmly believes the history of the Chinese of America has its rightful place in the history of the nation.

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