Panel Discussion     Series: OHQ on the Road

Searching for Salem’s Early Chinese Community

Free and open to the public

Thursday, June 30, 2022
7PM – 8:30PM

  • Free
  • Researchers

Willamette Heritage Center
1313 Mill Street SE
Suite 200
Salem, Oregon 97301
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Event Type: Panel DiscussionAudience(s): ResearchersLocation: Salem

Individuals of Chinese heritage have been living and working in the Salem area since at least 1860. Despite this long history, little research had been done to document and share their stories. Several community-wide projects in the past five years have been working to change that. A local advisory committee, including historians, members of Salem’s Chinese community, representatives from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, the Hoy Yin Association, Friends of the Salem Pioneer Cemetery, and Willamette University helped advise an archaeological team in uncovering a funerary table in Salem’s Pioneer Cemetery, one of very few physical remnants of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century community. Together, the project committee and today’s Salem Chinese community reinstated the funerary table’s use in a revived annual Qingming festival at the cemetery, now in its fifth year. Further research has helped name individuals, families, and businesses and collect photos, maps, and data to help better tell this story in public programs, articles, and exhibits.  This program is part of the OHQ on the Road series, with upcoming programs inspired by the Winter 2021 “Chinese Diaspora in Oregon” special issue.

Ability Accommodation Information

This event provides the following accommodations:

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

Kyle Pine serves as Curator and Collections Manager at the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. The museum’s mission is to connect generations by preserving and interpreting the history of the Mid Willamette Valley, including the stories of the region’s Chinese American community. She holds an M.A. in museum studies from the University of Washington and serves on the board of the Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health. 

Kirsten Straus holds a master’s degree in public history from Portland State University, where her research focused on cemeteries and the early development of cities in the Willamette Valley. She is currently a Cultural Resource Specialist with the Oregon Department of Transportation. She has lived in Salem for the past ten years. 

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.

Presented in partnership with