Butte County California Chinese Immigrants
The photographs shown here are dated between 1889 (before the Geary Act was passed) and 1899 (after the Geary Act restrictions had been imposed for 7 years). These images, called “likenesses” in nineteenth century language, are all posed formal portraits of Chinese men who were, reportedly, residents of the Chico area in Butte County, California (see Table One). Six of the photographs, however, are not dated and cannot be classified as such. The others reveal a substantial amount of information about the individuals pictured. For this publication and exhibit purposes, the photographs have been numbered from 1 to 47. The original photographs, those shown here, are scanned from modern black and white hard copies (not the originals).
Late nineteenth century photographic portraiture varied in size, most being mounted on a thick cardboard base. They range in size from “carte-de-visites” (wallet-sized prints) to so-called cabinet-sized photographs (larger photographs, 5-1/2 inches long, mounted on a card 6-1/2 by 4-1/2 inches). These two kinds of photographs were the most common methods used by photographers wanting to market images. These were called “albumen” (made from egg whites) prints, characterized by the photographer wanting a warm “brown tone” and distinguishing them from the starker black and white silver gelatin prints used throughout most of the twentieth century.
The photographs studied here were cabinet-sized prints (see above) mounted on a stiff board, many displaying the photographer’s advertised message printed on the verso (non-image) side. This particular group of images was given to the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in Philadelphia by Thomas Schwarz in 1972 and 1973. (We have not been able to identify Mr. Schwarz further.) Recently The Historical Society of Pennsylvania merged with the Balch Institute incorporating all of the collections into one entity, that of the Society. All photographs shown at this site are courtesy of that Society, who, through a contractual arrangement, is allowing California State University, Chico, to study and display them. Please contact the Society for further information regarding reproductive permissions and copyright. (Their address is: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107-5699, 215-732-6200 (ext.230).)
|1889||(4), (10), (31)|
|1890||(17), (18), (20), (27), (43)|
|1892||(7), (8), (14), (26), (35) |
|1893||(1), (2), (3), (6), (12), (13), (15), (16), (19), (21), (22), (23), (24), (25), (32), (38), (41) |
|1894||(28), (34), (37), (39)|
|1899||(30), (33), (40)|
|none||(11), (42), (44), (45), (46), (47)|
Source: The Chinese portrait photographs