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An Overseas Chinese Community

Historical Archaeology of an Overseas Chinese Community in Sacramento, California


Volume 1: Archaeological Excavations

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poem spoonIn late 1994 archaeologists from Sonoma State University carried out archaeological testing and data recovery on the HI56 Block in Sacramento, California. This work, done in advance of construction of a federal office building and courthouse, was sponsored by the U.S. General Services Administration in accordance with the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Prefield documentary research had disclosed that this was the last archaeologically surviving portion of Sacramento’s mid-19th-century Chinese district. A detailed research design and archaeological treatment plan was prepared and, through an agreement with the State Office of Historic Preservation, test and data-recovery excavations were carried out as a single operation.

This work revealed archaeological deposits that were determined to be eligible to the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion D, including caches of domestic and commercial refuse associated with a series of Chinese District Association boardinghouses that housed Chinese workers during the mid-1850s. The resulting historical and archaeological analyses revealed much information about the everyday lives of these working-class Chinese pioneers as well as how material culture was used by Chinese District Association agents to enhance their community’s relationship to Sacramento’s power brokers.

  • Table of Contents, Abstract
  • Chapter 1. Introductory Remarks
    discusses the project history, personnel, report structure.
  • Chapter 2. Research Design
    describes the project setting, historical context, research design, and research questions.
  • Chapter 3. Methods and Initial Study
    describes the research, field, and laboratory methods used in the study.
  • Chapter 4. Findings
    presents our findings, including site structure, historical associations, and interpretations for each address investigated.
  • Chapter 5. Special Studies
    presents special studies including those on Chinese artifacts, bead identification, and faunal remains.
  • Chapter 6. Concluding Remarks
    presents the conclusions of this study, focusing on the role of Chinese Company agents—both Chinese and American—in Gold Rush-era California.
  • Appendix A
    contains summaries of the oral histories produced for this study.
  • Appendix B
    lists context numbers assigned in the field.

Note: Volume 2 contains the catalog and is not available in pdf format.

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