Scope and Content of Collection
Title: San Francisco Chinatown residential inspection
Dates: ca. 1904
Collection number: MSS 130
United States Chinese Bureau (San
Collection Size: .5 linear feet
University of the Pacific. Library. Holt-Atherton Dept. of
Stockton, California 95211
Abstract: Collection consists of 4 volumes listing
residents by name with occupations. First volume arranged by address, others
arranged alphabetically by personal name.
Physical location: For current information on the location
of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
Languages: Languages represented in the collection:
Collection open for research.
Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as
the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the
San Francisco Chinatown residential inspection records. MSS 130.
Holt-Atherton Department of Special Collections, University of the Pacific
Scope and Content of Collection
Four volumes of San Francisco Chinatown residential inspection records.
Streets include Bartlett Alley, Brenham, Bull Run, Clay, Dupont,Fish Alley,
Jackson, Pacific, Ross Alley, Sacramento, Stockton and Waverly. The registers
include names, occupations and, in some cases, brief descriptions of living
conditions. Occupations include: cook, store owner, barber, gambler, farmer,
clerk, tailor, cigar maker, railroad worker,ranch hand, doctor, dentist and
ironer. The records were probably prepared by James R. Dunn, inspector in
charge of U.S. Chinese Bureau, San Francisco, or by an assistant.
According to Dr. Guenter B. Risse Affiliate Professor, Department of
Medical History and Ethics, University of Washington School of Medicine,
Seattle, WA in a 2008 email, "N.K. Foster, who was the Secretary of the
California Health Board in 1904, mentions in his June 3, 1904 report to the
Second Annual Conference of State Boards meeting in Washington, that there
still were many difficulties in finding plague cases in their early stages
among the Chinese. These people are quite reticent in reporting them, in part
because of the dread of having bodies submitted to dissection but also fears
that their social and business relations will be disturbed. A death from plague
prompts destruction of what inspectors perceive to be rubbish, then cleanup and
disinfection that they also try to avoid. To prevent this, the Chinese claim
that the victim came from another place, frequently outside the district, and
died as soon as he arrived.
"To counter this persistent deception,
Chinatown was divided into subdivisions with separate inspectors working in
each of them. Moreover, each room in the district received a number, placed
prominently on its door, and the particular inspector assigned to that sector
possesses a book with house and room numbers, name of occupant and business. At
each visit, the inspector recorded conditions and checked on the tenants
whereabouts. In this methodic way, the inspectors kept track of the inhabitants
and also had a better chance to find cases of sickness, although it was
impossible to get around daily. Difficulties arose when sick people moved to
other rooms or buildings, often unused ones.
"It seems probable that
these records belong to that sanitation effort; since there was no other census
of Chinatown, they could have been shared with Dunn, then in charge of the
Immigration Service in SF and particularly involved with the movement of
migrant Chinese under the provisions of the Exclusion Act of 1902."
The following terms have been used to index the description of this
collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Chinese Americans - History
Chinese Americans - Employment - San
San Francisco (Calif.) -
Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.) -