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Chinese Newspapers in 19th Century California
as listed in the California Newspaper Project Online MARC Catalog


The Oriental, Chinese San Francisco Newspaper, 1876.  Courtesy Timothy Huges Rare Newspapers.
Star OCLC NumberItem   
2306 34582275 American and Chinese commercial news = Hua Mei hsin pao. San Francisco, Cal. : American and Chinese Commercial Pub. Co.    
10210 11620268 Chiu chin shan t'ang jen hsin wen chih = San Francisco China news. [Vol. 1] no. 1, (July 14, 1874)-. [San Francisco, Calif.] : [Bogardus & Gordon].    
9561 10870958 Chung-hsi hui pao = The Oriental. Vol. 2, no. 3 (Sept. 16, 1876)-. Chiu-chin-shan [San Francisco, Calif.] : [s.n.], 1876.    
7906 8814351 The Oriental, or, Tung-ngai san-luk. San Francisco, Calif. : Whitton, Towne & Co.    
9560 10870930 T'ang fan kung pao = The Oriental. Chiu-chin-shan [San Francisco, Calif.] : Chock Wong & J. Hoffmann.    
492 31395029 Tang fan hsin pao = S.F. Chinese newspaper. Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 26, 1876)-. San Francisco [Calif.] : Hoffman, Mon Ting & Co.    

The Library of Congress states that "No first-person memoirs of the Chinese experience in nineteenth-century California are known to survive. ..."

The above catalog listing suggests that few issues of the 19th century California Chinese newspapers have survived, perhaps explaining the lack of an historical record of the transcontinental railroad construction from the Chinese workers' perspective. Please let us know if you are aware of any other sources for 19th century California Chinese newspapers, or any surviving 19th century Chinese account of the Central Pacific Railroad.

A complete 1874 issue of the San Francisco China News is reproduced below the catalog listings.


The Oriental, Chinese San Francisco Newspaper, 1876.  Courtesy Timothy Huges Rare Newspapers.
"The Oriental," Chinese San Francisco Newspaper, 1876.

> Ann Lau, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California notes that, it seems that The Oriental was published by missionaries who are not ethnic Chinese, the editor's name is William Speer. However, they may have ethnic Chinese parishioners who helped them. The front page shown above contains just a list of commodities prices. Price of white sugar, ham, potato, gun powder, matches etc.

> Shin Chi Fame Kao, Teacher of Tzu Chi Academy, Irvine, California comments that because I can not enlarge the image to read all details clearly, I can only recognize all big titles in that newspaper. It was published as the No. 24 on Feb. 3rd (based on Chinese Lunar Calender) in Guang Xu 2nd year in Qing Dynasty (year of 1876). The first part under the name of the newspaper was a price list of commodities. The bottom right part was the recent timetable of ships connecting big cities through sea transportation. The bottom left was the timetable of boats connecting inland cities through riverways.

> Him Mark Lai, Chinese Historical Society of America, San Francisco, comments on 7/16/2003 that:
1. The first Chinese newspaper in America was GOLDEN HILLS' NEWS in San Francisco, 1854. It was a weekly published by Howard and Lesner for a few months. It was followed by ORIENTAL (TUNG-NGAI SAN-LUK) a bilingual weekly published by Presbyterian China missionary William Speer in SF from 1855 to 1857. In both cases the editor of the Chinese section was Chinese. The identity of the first is not known to me. The editor of the second was Lee Kan, a former classmate of Yung Wing (first Chinese college graduate in US [Yale College, 1854]) at Hong Kong's Morrison School. The first Chinese owned paper and also the first Chinese daily was SACRAMENTO DAILY NEWS, published by Ze Too Yune in Sacramento from 1856 to 1858. That was the only Chinese newspaper published in Sacramento up to very recently. There was apparently a pause in Chinese journalistic activities until the early-1870s and I personally have not seen any Chinese accounts of the building of the Central Pacific.
2. Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley has microfilms of the first and second items and Hoover Institution East Asian Library at Stanford University has microfilms of the second and third items. The third item was done from a negative print as white characters on a black background. It was a photostat that I obtained more than quarter of a century ago from the Missouri Historical Society. At that time that was the only existing copy of that paper that I was aware of. ...
3. The bibliography that I compiled with Karl Lo ["Chinese Newspapers Published in North America, 1854-1975" by Karl Lo and Him Mark Lai, Center of Chinese Research Materials] was published almost 30 years ago and had been out-of-print for many years. ... It is probably available at some university libraries. However, I did write an essay on the development of the Chinese American Press, which was published in Sally M. Miller, ed.,  THE ETHNIC PRESS IN THE UNITED STATES: A HISTORIC ANALYSIS AND HANDBOOK (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987). ... 

Another complete four page 19th century San Francisco Chinese newspaper is reproduced below the following bibliography of known surviving copies.



  STAR   2306
  001    ocm34582275 
  003    OCoLC
  005    19971004122255.0
  008    960416d188u1uuucauwr ne      0    0eng d
  010    bb |a sn 96064388 
  040    bb |a CNK |c CNK
  041    0b |a engchi
  042    bb |a msc
  245    00 |a American and Chinese commercial news = |b Hua Mei hsin pao.
  246    31 |a Hua Mei hsin pao
  260    bb |a San Francisco, Cal. : |b American and Chinese Commercial Pub.
             Co.,
  310    bb |a Weekly
  500    bb |a Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 23 (July 20, 1883).
  546    bb |a In English and Chinese.
  650    b0 |a Chinese Americans |z California |x Newspapers.
  651    b0 |a San Francisco (Calif.) |x Newspapers.
  752    bb |a United States |b California |c San Francisco |d San Francisco.
  HLDNGS  
              Claremont Colleges (HDCC): Special Collections. 
             Format: OR. Cond.: fair.
             Dates: <1888:10:26>
             
              LA Natural History Museum (CNHM): Box 242 A. 
             Format: OR. Cond.: fair.
             Dates: <1883:7:20>
Top


  STAR   10210
  001    ocm11620268 
  003    OCoLC
  005    19971004122255.0
  008    850125d18741875cauwr ne      0    0chi d
  010    bb |a sn 85025281 
  040    bb |a NPX |c NPX |d YOX |d CNK
  041    0b |a chieng
  042    bb |a msc
  245    00 |a Chiu chin shan t'ang jen hsin wen chih = |b San Francisco
             China news.
  246    11 |a San Francisco China news
  260    bb |a [San Francisco, Calif.] : |b [Bogardus & Gordon],
  310    bb |a Weekly
  362    0b |a [Vol. 1] no. 1, (July 14, 1874)-
  362    1b |a Ceased in 1875. |z Cf. Lo, K. & Lai, H.M.  Chinese newspapers
             in North Amer., 1854-1975.
  500    bb |a Publisher taken from Aug. 11, 1874 issue.
  546    bb |a In Chinese; title and pub. statement also in English.
  650    b0 |a Chinese |z California |x Newspapers.
  651    b0 |a San Francisco (Calif.) |x Newspapers.
  752    bb |a United States |b California |c San Francisco |d San Francisco.
  HLDNGS  
              San Francisco Public Lib. (SFRA): SFHR. 
             Format: OR.
             Dates: <1875:2:20>
             
              UC Berkeley, Bancroft (CUYT)
             Format: FM. Cond.: good. Master: Banc.  Filmer: LPS
             Dates: <1874:7:14-1875:7:24><1875:8:7>
             
              UC Berkeley, Bancroft (CUYT)
             Format: FMM.
             Dates: <1874:7:14-1875:7:24><1875:8:7>
             
              UC Los Angeles (CLYN)
             Format: FM. Cond.: fair. Filmer: University of California--LPS
             Dates: <1874:7:14-1875:8:7>
Top


  STAR   9561
  001    ocm10870958 
  003    OCoLC
  005    19971004122255.0
  008    840621d187618uucauwr ne      0   e0chi d
  010    bb |a sn 84025977 
  040    bb |a NPV |c NPV |d CNK
  042    bb |a msc
  043    bb |a n-us-ca
  245    10 |a Chung-hsi hui pao = |b The Oriental.
  246    11 |a Oriental
  260    bb |a Chiu-chin-shan [San Francisco, Calif.] : |b [s.n.], |c 1876-
  310    bb |a Weekly
  362    0b |a Vol. 2, no. 3 (Sept. 16, 1876)-
  521    bb |a "This is the only Chinese newspaper published in this
             country."
  546    bb |a In Chinese.
  650    b0 |a Chinese |z California |z San Francisco |x Newspapers.
  651    b0 |a San Francisco (Calif.) |x Newspapers.
  752    bb |a United States |b California |c San Francisco |d San Francisco.
  780    00 |t Hua fan hui pao |w (DLC)sn 84025976
  HLDNGS  
              Calif. State Lib. (CAXA): SPECIMEN. 
             Format: OR. Cond.: fair.
             Dates: <1884:2:2>
             
              County of Los Angeles (JQWA): DISC 085. 
             Format: FM. Cond.: good. (Reel 85A) Filmer: Kansas State
             Historical Society
             Dates: <1882:5:6>
             
              UC Los Angeles (CLYN)
             Format: OR. Cond.: fair.
             Dates: <1880:5:22>
Top


  STAR   7906
  001    ocm08814351 
  003    OCoLC
  005    19971004122255.0
  008    820928d18551857cau x ne      0   a0chi  
  010    bb |a sn 82015723 
  028    5821
  040    bb |a DLC |c DLC |d NPU |d DLC |d NPX |d DLC |d YOX |d MGN |d CNK
  041    0b |a chieng
  042    bb |a msc
  050    00 |a Newspaper 7114-X
  245    04 |a The Oriental, or, Tung-ngai san-luk.
  246    03 |a Oriental
  246    03 |a Tung ngai san luck
  246    13 |a Tung-ngai san-luk
  246    03 |a Tung yai hsin lu
  260    bb |a San Francisco, Calif. : |b Whitton, Towne & Co.,
  310    bb |a Frequency irregular
  362    1b |a Began Jan. 4, 1855. Ceased in Feb. 1857?
  500    bb |a Has a second masthead on p. [2] in Chinese and English.
  500    bb |a Editor: William Speer, <1855>.
  500    bb |a "Devoted to information relating to the Chinese people, the
             Eastern World, and the promotion of Christianity."
  500    bb |a Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 3 (Jan. 18, 1855).
  515    bb |a Published triweekly in Chinese, weekly in English, <1855>;
             later changed to weekly in Chinese, monthly in English;
             published irregularly, <1857>. Cf. Lo, K. & Lai, H.M.  Chinese
             newspapers published in North Amer., 1854-1975.
  546    bb |a In Chinese and English.
  650    b0 |a Chinese |z California |x Newspapers.
  650    b0 |a Chinese Americans |z California |x Newspapers.
  651    b0 |a San Francisco (Calif.) |x Newspapers.
  752    bb |a United States |b California |c San Francisco |d San Francisco.
  HLDNGS  
              Huntington Lib., Rare Books Dept. (HUVM): 55030. 
             Format: OR.
             Dates: <1856:5>
Top


  STAR   9560
  001    ocm10870930 
  003    OCoLC
  005    19971004122255.0
  008    840621d18751876cauwr ne      0   e0chi d
  010    bb |a sn 84025975 
  040    bb |a NPV |c NPV |d CNK
  042    bb |a msc
  043    bb |a n-us-ca
  245    10 |a T'ang fan kung pao = |b The Oriental.
  246    11 |a Oriental
  260    bb |a Chiu-chin-shan [San Francisco, Calif.] : |b Chock Wong & J.
             Hoffmann,
  310    bb |a Weekly
  362    1b |a Ceased before Sept. 1876. |z Cf. Hua fan hui pao = The
             Oriental, Sept. 2, 1876.
  500    bb |a Description based on: Vol. 1, no. 2 (Sept. 18, 1875).
  521    bb |a "This is the only Chinese newspaper published in this
             country."  Cf. Sept. 25, 1875 issue.
  546    bb |a In Chinese.
  650    b0 |a Chinese |z California |z San Francisco |x Newspapers.
  651    b0 |a San Francisco (Calif.) |x Newspapers.
  752    bb |a United States |b California |c San Francisco |d San Francisco.
  785    00 |t Hua fan hui pao |w (DLC)sn 84025976
  HLDNGS  
              UC Berkeley, Bancroft (CUYT)
             Format: FM.
             Dates: <1875:9:18-1876:3:25><1876:4:22-29, 5:13, 5:27-6:17>
             
              UC Berkeley, Bancroft (CUYT)
             Format: FMM.
             Dates: <1875:9:18-1876:3:25><1876:4:22-29, 5:13, 5:27-6:17>
Top


  STAR   492
  001    ocm31395029 
  003    OCoLC
  005    19971004122255.0
  008    941102d18761uuucauwr ne      0    0chi d
  010    bb |a sn 94052477 
  040    bb |a CUY |c CNK
  042    bb |a msc
  245    00 |a Tang fan hsin pao = |b S.F. Chinese newspaper.
  246    11 |a S.F. Chinese newspaper
  246    11 |a Chinese newspaper
  260    bb |a San Francisco [Calif.] : |b Hoffman, Mon Ting & Co.,
  310    bb |a Weekly
  362    0b |a Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 26, 1876)-
  500    bb |a English title varies.
  650    b0 |a Chinese |z California |x Newspapers.
  752    bb |a United States |b California |c San Francisco |d San Francisco.
  HLDNGS  
              UC Berkeley, Bancroft (CUYT)
             Format: FM. Cond.: fair. Master: NRLF.  Filmer: LPS
             Dates: <1876:8:26-9:2><1877:2:17-3:31, 5:12-19, 6:2, 6:16-7:14>
             
              UC Berkeley, Bancroft (CUYT)
             Format: FMM.
             Dates: <1876:8:26-9:2><1877:2:17-3:31, 5:12-19, 6:2, 6:16-7:14>
Top

Catalog Information Courtesy University of California Riverside, California Newspaper Project.
Newspaper Images Above Courtesy Timothy Hughes Rare Newspapers.


San Francisco China News
Volume I, No. 25.
Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors
Saturday, December 26, 1874

Ann Lau of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California explains that the language of this newspaper [complete newspaper issue reproduced below] is quite literary but it is sprinkled with writing using the colloquial style of the period, and the terminology is unique to the America of that location.
The entire newspaper was hand written except for the logo at the top of the newspaper. No authors of articles are named.
The following newspaper pages show a boat schedule of an inland boat and ship schedule to Oakland, Salinas, etc. (also including boat schedule for from SF and inland boat schedule).
There is news of local San Francisco - robbery. News of Kwangtung province and other provinces. Sex, rape, robbery. Laments about China being weak with corrupt officials.
Advertisement of foreign liquor for sale. Advertisement of a cure to stop the habit of drinking foreign liquor. Advertisement for free medical treatment. Advertisement for sale of jewelry, diamonds, etc. Advertisement for a circus. Advertisement of an attorney, etc. etc. etc.
Terminology changes with time and locale. The language had no punctuation as is typical of that period. The term for policeman probably did not come into being in the earlier time in China, therefore in San Francisco, the term "green coat" means policeman. For current Chinese, policeman would be "alarm checker."
The Oriental is Tang-Foreign Public News
The China San Francisco News is Old Gold Mountain Tang Person New Heard Paper.
The current term for newspaper is Report Paper. New Heard Paper is the term used (probably by Cantonese only) in earlier time.
Chinese at that time usually refer to themselves as Tang Person. The term Chung-Quo Ren (China Person or Chinaman) was probably not used until the Republic of China was formed in 1911 by Dr. Sun Yat Sen when the Manchu dynasty was overthrown. However, the newspaper referred to China as Chung-Quo or Tang Mountain. Chinese in American now refer to themselves as Hwa Ren (Hwa Person) or Hwa Ye (Hwa descendents) although the word Tang Person is still used by Cantonese speakers who have lived in the US for a long time. The term Chung-Quo Ren has a connotation of nationality. However, many immigrant Chinese, by virtue of habit, even after they have become US citizens still refer to themselves as Chung-Quo Ren although the correct term should be Mei-Quo Ren (US Person).

[Click image to enlarge.]

San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)
San Francisco China News, Volume I, No. 25, Bogardus & Gordon Proprietors, Saturday, December 26, 1874. (Chinese Language Newspaper)


Also see "Cathay in Eldorado: The Chinese in California" and the National Park Service's "A History of Chinese Americans in California."

Also see Chinese printing office.

San Francisco History – List of Newspapers, 1846-1934.

List of California Chinese Newspapers. U.C. Berkeley.

California Newspapers. U.C. Davis.

"The Chinese in California, 1850-1925" including an image showing a chinese newspaper. Library of Congress and U.C. Berkeley.


Chinatown, San Francisco
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View Book Images Courtesy History's Imprints.


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