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Chinese Laundries in North America

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Observation in a laundry trade journal c. 1900
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The classic study of Chinese Laundries in Chicago
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Portrait of the bachelor society of 1930s-1940s laundrymen

Chinese Laundries
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The laundry became the ticket into mainstream society for the Chinese immigrants from about the 1850s to 1950s. It enabled them to overcome and survive many obstacles. "Chinese Laundries" examines their origins and role in the economic, social, and psychological status of early Chinese immigrants and their families. First- and second-hand accounts of the experiences of immigrants and their families who worked, and often lived close to, or in, above, below, or behind, their laundries provide an understanding of how much the laundry men and women achieved despite poverty, racial discrimination, and cultural isolation. Click here to Buy this book

Chinese Laundries
In the late 1800s Chinese began to operate laundries all over the United States and Canada.  Whites tried and failed to block the survival of Chinese laundries. Only with the increase in home washers and dryers in the 1950s, as well as the better opportunities their children had through education, did the Chinese laundry fade into history much as the horse and buggy did with the arrival of automobiles.
This site focuses on North America, but actually the laundry played a vital role for Chinese immigrants in many other parts of the world including New Zealand, Australia, Mexico, and England.

Click here for Web Sites On Chinese Laundries Throughout North America

There were 19 Chinese laundries in the Deep South run by male descendants (in dark green in the chart) of my great great grandfather Fun Fai Lo. Various laundries operated from about 1915 until around the 1960s, and one still is open in Atlanta. Thanks to their arduous labor and sacrifice, these laundry men enabled their descendants to pursue higher education and success in professions and other careers.

Lo Family Laundries In South (c. 1915-2004)
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