Panel Discussion, Partner Event, Online Video     Series: OHQ on the Road

Oregon’s Early Chinese American History and Portland’s Louie Chung

People of Chinese descent have settled, lived, and worked in Oregon since at least 1850, nine years before statehood. They are among the earliest generation of non-Indigenous people to settle in this region. Yet, Oregon’s public memory largely excludes those early Chinese residents’ role in shaping the state’s development. Their economic and cultural contributions, as well as the basic facts of their statewide existence, have been subjected to nearly two centuries of erasure, something that scholars have begun to correct only in recent decades.

Louie Chung, who immigrated to Oregon in 1892, worked as a contract laborer and became a wealthy Portland merchant. Chung, despite all odds, achieved a degree of success in his adopted homeland and gave back to his community all along the way. Meticulously researched by his grandson, Myron Louie Lee, Chung’s story highlights the myriad challenges Chinese immigrants faced in Oregon.

Join us for a discussion with historian Jennifer Fang and OHQ contributor Myron Louie Lee about what Louie Chung’s story tells us about early Oregon history and the Chinese American diaspora. This program is organized in partnership with the Portland Chinatown Museum and is part of the OHQ on the Road series, with upcoming programs inspired by the Winter 2021 “Chinese Diaspora in Oregon” special issue.

Jennifer Fang is the Director of Interpretation and Community Engagement at Pittock Mansion and an adjunct professor of history at the University of Portland. She earned a Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Delaware with a specialization in race and immigration during the Cold War. She was a founding staff member of the Portland Chinatown Museum. Along with Chelsea Rose, she guest co-edited the Winter 2021 special issue of the Oregon Historical Quarterly about Oregon’s early Chinese diaspora.

Jennifer Fang

Myron Louie Lee is a descendant of Toisan immigrants who settled in Oregon in the late 1800s. He received his B.A. from Willamette University and his M.D. from Oregon Health & Science University. Recently retired from private family practice in Salem, he continues to provide care at a local free community clinic, where many of the patients are recently arrived immigrants. He is a student of Oregon Chinese history as well as Chinese art and culture.

Myron Lee

About OHQ on the Road

OHQ on the Road brings scholars, authors, and knowledge-holders to connect with communities across Oregon to share insights from the scholarship produced in OHS’s journal, the Oregon Historical Quarterly (OHQ). Since 1900, the Quarterly has published well-researched, well-written history about Oregon and the Pacific Northwest for both scholars and general readers, amplifying the knowledge and perspectives that traditional scholarship has often silenced while sparking relevant conversations about history. 

In summer 2022, OHQ on the Road will feature programs inspired by the Winter 2021 “Chinese Diaspora in Oregon” special issue. In this issue, authors contribute to a growing body of work that documents early Chinese residents’ role in shaping Oregon’s development as well as reclaims their place in the history of the state. These programs are presented in partnership with the Oregon Chinese Diaspora Project (OCDP), a multi-agency partnership that has been excavating sites across the state to better understand and share the history of Oregon’s early Chinese residents. With a focus on rural communities, remote mining camps, and railroad construction, this collaborative project has provided important insight into the Chinese experience and role in the settlement and development of Oregon.

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