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Chinese-Americans in Minnesota: Overview

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Chinese-Americans in Minnesota

Chinese immigrants in the 19th century struggled to make a home for themselves in the United States. Despite harsh immigration restrictions and job discrimination that persisted well into the 20th century, Chinese people managed to put down roots in all parts of the country. The first Chinese immigrants arrived in Minnesota in the mid-1870s. By the late 1880s more than 100 Chinese men had entered the state, with most settling in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth, and the rest scattered in smaller towns. Family life developed slowly in Minnesota's early Chinese community and elsewhere in the United States, due to the restrictions of the immigration law, Chinese tradition, and the high cost of trans-Pacific travel. Nevertheless, at least six families were established in Minnesota before 1910. The decades of the 1930s and 1940s brought violent upheavals in China and were difficult times for Chinese Minnesotans, concerned for their relatives and for the future of their homeland. After World War II, Chinese American communities and businesses flourished in Minnesota. By 2002, Chinese immigrants and their descendants in Minnesota numbered more than 18,000 people. 

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Revised by Katie Jean Davey
Reference Librarian

Minnesota Historical Society Library • 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 • 651-259-3300