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Collection Exhibition Themes
Chinese workers in a strawberry field
Currently on display
Not a part of the official Smithsonian Collection
This photograph shows Chinese men at work in the Pajaro Valley's strawberry fields. Growers around Watsonville began to grow perishable produce like strawberries when they were reliably connected to markets. The valley shipped their strawberries to San Francisco, and their growing apple crop around the nation and to Europe and China.
Physical Description
Date Made:
about 1900
Pajaro Valley

Chinese men began to arrive in California when gold was discovered. And, although they were often discriminated against, they literally helped make California a viable part of the Union. The Central Pacific railroad company recruited many Chinese men to work on the line's construction. So Chinese men in the West helped forge the bonds of connection with the rest of the nation. After that massive endeavor was complete, Chinese men helped build other railroads throughout California, including the Santa Cruz Rail Road. When work on the railroad began to wind down, more and more Chinese men turned to agricultural work in California. By the late 1880s Chinese farmworkers were a critica—-though aging—part of California's agricultural workforce. Despite their contributions to California's economic wellbeing, immigrants from China were subject to discrimination and in 1882 to U.S. Congress, passed the Chinese Exclusion Act which barred laborers from China from entering the country.

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