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Collection Guide
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Gin/Louis Family Collection
1998.003  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The Gin/Louis Collection contains family keepsakes, school books, and photos and receipts from Young Louis’s photography studio. The Louis family were pioneers of San Luis Obispo and founding members of the city’s Chinese community.
Background
In total, Ah Luis had eight children that he had raised in San Luis Obispo. His oldest son, Young Louis also was a major influence in the San Luis Obispo area. He was a movie projectionist for San Luis Obispo’s Palm Theater, a movie projectionist and stage manager who personally worked for William Randolph Hearst at Hearst Castle, and one of the first Chinese Americans to graduate from the California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo. He married Stella Chandler and together they both founded the Chinese Student Association at Cal Poly SLO, an organization that brought together Chinese Americans all from first, second, and third generations and provided a comfortable circle for the Chinese minority on campus to learn Chinese tradition through Lion Dancing and promote Chinese culture both on campus and to the San Luis Obispo area. Among other achievements, Young Louis was a professional photographer who owned his own studio in San Luis Obispo on Chorro Street, a muralist, and an artist. Young’s father Ah Louis, also known by his Chinese name Wong On, immigrated to the United States during the 1850’s in pursuit of the gold rush. He eventually settled in San Luis Obispo in 1870 and acted as a laborer contractor, organizing crews of Chinese immigrants to help construct the Pacific Coast Railroad, mine the quicksilver mines near the town of Cambria, and drain the Laguna Lake area as well as the swampland between San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach in 1882. He also operated a Chinese goods shop on Chorro Street in the Chinatown district of San Luis Obispo, operated as a banker to the Chinese, owned a brickyard, and produced seed farms selling his produce to the American navy and armies during both World War I and World War II.
Extent
12 Page Boxes and 12 Hollinger Boxes(approximately 19.17 Linear Feet)
Restrictions
Collections open for research. Property rights reside with the History Center. Selected copyrights may be retained by the creators of the records and their heirs.
Availability
Collections open for research. Some materials stored offsite. Contact the History Center in advance to request access the materials.