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UF History at the Undergraduate Research Symposium

Published: March 28th, 2017

Category: Feature, History Department News, Recent News

The History Department was well represented at the University of Florida Undergraduate Research Symposium.  Ilyssa Tuttelman, a History and International Studies major working with Dr. Steve Noll, was one of the select undergraduates chosen to participate in the University Scholars Program for 2016-17, after which she presented her research at the symposium and received a $1,750 stipend.  You can find out more about the University Scholars Program here.

Tuttelman’s research examines  the mistreatment of Chinese immigrants in Chicago from 1870-1920, a phenomenon often overlooked by historians.  Much of the anti-Chinese hysteria began in California and spread throughout the nation because of Denis Kearney, a member of the Workingmen’s Party who traveled throughout the 1870s and 1880s delivering speeches about the problems associated with Chinese immigration.  Chinese migrants moved to Chicago because it was a large city with significant economic opportunities and far removed from Kearney’s home base of California. However, the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 restricted Chinese travel, living, and labor circumstances. In response to the increased attacks upon his fellow immigrants, Chinese American Wong Chin Foo challenged Kearney by organizing the Chinese Equal Rights League of Chicago. Kearney was not Foo’s only enemy. State Attorney Jacob Kern of Chicago also demonstrated dislike of Wong Chin Foo and caused a divide among Chicago’s Chinese population. This resulted in widespread violence among Chinese groups in both Chicago and its suburbs. Although the conflict and clashes between Denis Kearney, Wong Chin Foo, State Attorney Kern, and within the Chinese community itself exist now only in historical archives; the mistreatment and scapegoating of immigrants is a concept that remains in the United States today. The outcome of the 2016 United States Presidential election and the resulting racist uprisings targeting specific religions and migrant populations can be directly correlated to the treatment of the Chinese in Chicago and nationwide from 1870-1920.

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