An overview of the history of Chinese in America starting from the mid 1800s helps show how discrimination against Chinese immigrants required them to turn to self-employment in businesses such as laundries as their primary form of economic activity from the late 19th century until well into the 20th century.
The links below tell stories of some historic Chinese laundries and the immigrants who ran them across the U. S. and Canada over the past century and a half.
Links To A Sample of Chinese Laundries
New York City A union of Chinese laundry workers against discriminatory policies favoring white-owned laundries.
Two brothers, Gee Hong and Gee One, operated the Sam Wah Laundry for 64 years between 1922 and 1986bafter acquiring it from their uncle who started it in 1915. It was closed during the urban renewal in St. Louis that replaced China Alley.
Dallas, Texas (1873-1940) An analysis by Stan Solamillo of the growth and decline of Chinese laundries in the Dallas area from 1873-1940 using probate records, city directories, census data, and newspaper articles.