Chinese Women
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Deborah Flesichaker, The Exclusion of Chinese Women: 1870-1940

In 1910 approximately 328 people of Chinese ancestry lived in Baltimore. Only 41 or 12.6% were women. The percentage of women increased to 30% by 1940. The gender disparity in the Chinese community was the direct result of immigration policies and laws, like the Page Act of 1875 that restricted the immigration of Chinese women into the United States between 1870 and 1940. These policies and laws were conscious attempts to discouraged Chinese men from settling permanently in the United States. As a result of immigration restrictions and state anti-miscegenation law restricting out-marriages, large numbers of Chinese men never married. In addition, American-born women of Chinese ancestry who married Chinese immigrants lost their citizenship. The first American-born member the Baltimore Chinese community ancestry lost her U.S. citizen when she married a immigrant from China.

 

Carla McGregor, Marriage, Women, Citizenship & Naturalization Laws in the Late 1800s: Loss of Citizenship Through Marriage

The first American-born child of Chinese ancestry, Lillie Lee lost her citizenship in 1912 when she married Leong Gin Wong, an immigrant from China, who because of his race was ineligible for citizenship, regaining it fifty four years later in 1966 after the federal law changed. In contrast, once the federal law was changed in the 1940s to allow natives of China to become naturalized citizens, Mrs. Marie Wong Bellegras became the first woman of Chinese ancestry in Baltimore to complete and pass her naturalization examination. This project begins an examination of how naturalization and immigration laws impacted on the Chinese women’s ability to marry.