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Robbins, Trina, Forbidden City collection
SFH 80  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Existence of Original Photographs
  • Transcripts Available
  • Exhibition of Materials
  • Special Media Requirements
  • Processing Information

  • Contributing Institution: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
    Title: Trina Robbins Forbidden City collection
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2009
    Date (bulk): 2006-2008
    Collection Identifier: SFH 80
    Creator: Robbins, Trina
    Physical Description: 3 folders, 17 audio cassette tapes, and 5 computer discs (1 manuscripts box)
    Abstract: Research materials for Robbins' book, Forbidden City: The Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs.
    Physical Location: The collection is stored on site.
    Language of Material: Collection materials are in English.


    The collection is available for use during San Francisco History Center hours.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Trina Robbins Forbidden City Collection (SFH 80), San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.


    Donated by Trina Robbins in 2011.

    Historical Note

    Trina Robbins is a writer of books and comics. While taking a tap dancing class from Tony Wing, she met a group of women and discovered the untold story of San Francisco's Chinatown nightclubs of the late 1930s to the late 1960s, and the talented Asian American singers and dancers who performed in them.

    Scope and Contents

    Research materials for Robbins' book, Forbidden City: The Golden Age of Chinese Nightclubs. Includes press clippings, flyers and programs, recorded interviews, and interview transcripts. Original photographs are not included. Entertainers featured include Dorothy Toy Fong, Jadin Wong (interviewed in 1984 by her brother, Wally Wong), and Charlie Low (by another interviewer in 1982). Robbins' interviews, conducted from 2006 to 2008, were published in the book with minimal editing.

    Existence of Original Photographs

    The author borrowed photographs and ephemera from the artists interviewed and their families.

    Transcripts Available

    Transcripts of interviews, with the exception of those of Charlie Low and Jimmy Borges, are included.

    Exhibition of Materials

    The San Francisco Public Library hosted an exhibition related to the publication of the book (April 10-June 12, 2010). A number of photographs and other ephemera were borrowed from the artists and their families.

    Special Media Requirements

    The collection includes audio cassettes, CD-Rs with audio, and a CD-R and CD-RWs with text.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Tami J. Suzuki in 2014.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Robbins, Trina -- Archives.
    Chinese Americans -- California -- San Francisco -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
    Nightclubs -- California -- San Francisco -- History -- 20th century.
    Chinese Americans -- California -- San Francisco -- Biography.
    Entertainers -- California -- San Francisco -- Biography.
    Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.) -- Biography.
    Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
    San Francisco (Calif.) -- Biography.