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Growing Ethnic Diversity

Questions to Consider

What were some of the ethnic groups that emigrated to California in the early 1900s?

Why did they come, and how did they fare once they arrived?

What kind of social, economic, and environmental conditions greeted them?

About the Images

These images reflect some of the diverse ethnic groups that came to the West Coast from locations around the globe. They also illustrate some of the challenges they faced in assimilating into California society.

Overview

People from around the world continued to come to California in the early 1900s, many in search of work and a better life. Two photographs depict men in turbans in San Francisco in 1910. Southern California attracted numerous Japanese immigrants. Photographs in this group show Japanese workers standing in front of delivery trucks at the Nakamura Company and inside Japanese owned businesses such as the Kusumoto Barbershop in Anaheim.

Mexicans and Filipinos also came to California during this period. As new farming technologies enabled the consolidation of smaller parcels of land into large farms up and down the state, the need for workers increased. In response, many Filipinos came to work in the fields and in related agricultural jobs. "Snapshot of Workers' Camp" shows some of these men.

Mexican and Japanese immigrants also found agricultural work in California. Photographs in this group show Japanese workers in a field; and another image shows a young Mexican agricultural worker. The photograph of workers in the Tokay grape packing shed in Florin shows a diversity of workers, including an African American woman and Japanese and Filipino men.

This mix of very different cultures gave rise to tensions and conflicts. Migrant workers were threatened and warned not to take jobs away from other groups. Images include two letters threatening a farmer with reprisals if he hires Filipinos; and a US Immigration sign in Spanish threatening non-citizens with deportation if they go on strike.

Although the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prevented new immigrants from coming to the United States, the Chinese who were already here continued to assimilate into Western culture. A photograph taken in 1910 shows an unidentified San Diego Chinese American family. Anti-Chinese discrimination continued, as evidenced by a letter from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce pointing out the unfair conditions inflicted by the Immigration Law of 1924. Nonetheless, many of these images show that Chinese people persevered, engaging in daily activities — going to school, working, walking in a funeral procession.

California Content Standards

English-Language Arts

Grade 4:

1.0 Writing Strategies: Research and Technology

2.0 Writing Applications
2.3 Write information reports.

2.0 Speaking Applications
2.2 Make informational presentations.

Grade 8:

1.0 Writing Strategies: Research and Technology

2.0 Writing Applications
2.3 Write research reports.

2.0 Speaking Applications
2.3 Deliver research presentations.

Grade 10:

2.0 Reading Comprehension
2.5 Extend ideas presented in primary or secondary sources through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration.

3.0 Literary Response and Analysis: Literary Criticism
3.12 Analyze the way in which a work of literature is related to the themes and issues of its historical period. (Historical approach).

1.0 Writing Strategies: Research and Technology
1.3 Use clear research questions and suitable research methods (e.g., library, electronic media, personal interview) to elicit and present evidence from primary and secondary sources.

2.0 Writing Applications
2.3 Write expository compositions, including analytical essays and research reports.

2.0 Speaking Applications
2.2 Deliver expository presentations.

Grade 11:

1.0 Writing Strategies: Research and Technology

2.0 Writing Applications
2.4 Write historical investigation reports.

2.0 Speaking Applications
2.2 Deliver oral reports on historical investigations.
2.4 Delivery multimedia presentations.

History-Social Science

Grade 4:

4.4 Students explain how California became an agricultural and industrial power, tracing the transformation of the California economy and its political and cultural development since the 1850s. (4.4.4)

Grade 8:

8.12 Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution.

Grade 10:

10.3 Students analyze the effects of the Industrial Revolution in England, France, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

Grade 11:

11.2 Students analyze the relationship among the rise of industrialization, large-scale rural-to-urban migration, and massive immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. (11.2.1)

11.5 Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s. (11.5.7)

Visual Arts

3.0 Historical and Cultural Context Understanding the Historical Contributions and Cultural Dimensions of the Visual Arts. Students analyze the role and development of the visual arts in past and present cultures throughout the world, noting human diversity as it relates to the visual arts and artists.

Analysis Tools

6C's of Primary Source Analysis (PDF) (Source: UCI History Project)
Photographs (PDF) (Source: Library of Congress)
Posters/Visuals (PDF) (Source: Bringing History Home)
Written Documents (PDF) (Source: NARA)
Primary Source Activity (PDF) (Source: Library of Congress)

Note about picture captions

The original captions on some of the photographs include terms such as "Hindu," a term that was commonplace at the time, but considered to be derogatory today.