Friday, February 25, 2011

Advertising railroad employment for Chinese labor

From: "Brian McGuirk"

I'm a Librarian at the Oregon State Library working on a reference question on behalf of one of our state agencies. They are trying to locate any advertisements, leaflets, or signs advertising employment for Chinese labor from the railroads. If you have any ideas where I could track down such material or a picture of an original please contact me ...

Great website BTW!

Brian McGuirk
Web Services Librarian
Government Research Services
Oregon State Library

Advertisement in the Pacific Coast Railroad Gazetteer, 1870.
Advertisement in the Pacific Coast Railroad Gazetteer, 1870.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have not seen a surviving example of a 19th century CPRR advertisement for Chinese labor.

[Of course, since such an advertisement would need to be written in Chinese which I can't read, I wouldn't recognize such an advertisement if was in front of me. It is also uncertain as to whether the CPRR railroad laborers were literate or illiterate (or only literate in a few characters relating to their job) which further confuses the issue.]

2/25/2011 5:08 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


I suspect that any advertising would have been in Chinese, and much of it circulated in China.

With that in mind, try contacting the Chinese Historical Society in San Francisco.

Randy Hees
Society for the Preservation of Carter Railroad Resources
Railway Preservation News

2/25/2011 7:21 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Larry Mullaly"

I received the following reply from Victoria Law, Director of the Ashland (Oregon) Historic Railroad Museum:

"I also found an article in Ashland Daily Tidings archives dated

March 28, 1887
"Budd and Witherell, employment agents here, have received an order for 500 Chinese for work on the California & Oregon extension. None are to be had in San Francisco, and the company need all the men they can get for pushing the road to a connection with the Oregon & California this year. Nor are the Chinese to be had in Portland, and if the order is filled the Chinese will have to be drawn from farms in the neighborhood of this city. The price offered by the railroad is $1, and as the Chinese are receiving only 60 to 70 cents a day on farms, the chances are they will drop the axe and mattock for the pick and shovel. – [Oregonian, 21st]

I would look in the Oregonian from around the 21st of March 1887 and also April 1887 when there is another article about Sisson, Crocker & Co. looking for Chinese in Portland to complete the rail road through the Siskiyous."

I hope this is of some help.

—Larry Mullaly

2/26/2011 11:50 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

[On January 6, 1864], the Sacramento Union carried a Central Pacific advertisement calling for "5,000 laborers for constant and permanent work; also experienced foremen." ... Apparently the need for labor was unduly advertised, for the Shasta Courier carried this advertisement on January 2.

"The Central Pacific Railroad Company advertises for 5,000 laborers to work upon the road between Newcastle and Illinoistown [Colfax]. It is the intention of the company to employ at once as many men as can be advantageously worked on the distance between these points —— 23 miles. The iron for laying this additional amount of track is already in Sacramento and it is expected that the cars will run to Illinoistown by August next. The above opportunity affords a chance for those out of employment."

2/26/2011 11:57 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


... The original question was about advertising for employment of Chinese labor. It is unlikely that many Chinese in Sacramento were able to read the Sacramento Union so I doubt this advertisement was directed at them. ...

I have no idea what the phrase "unduly advertised" means.

—John Sweetser

2/27/2011 11:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Poor, Jasmin"
Subject: Transcontinental Railroad Program Support

... My name is Jasmin Poor. I work for Roper Mountain Science Center in Greenville, SC.

We are currently redoing part of our Virtual Field Trip on the Transcontinental Railroad and were looking for how the Central Pacific Railroad recruited it’s workers.

I’d love to find some authentic posters/advertisements to support our presentation and allow students to read. Do you have anything that might be able to support this endeavor? ...

Virtual Field Trip Teacher/Coordinator
Roper Mountain Science Center
Greenville County Schools

10/02/2017 11:24 AM  

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