How the Chinese built the railroads


When I spoke to Shelley Fisher Fishkin a few days ago (we’ve written about her here and here and here), she waxed enthusiastic about the current exhibition featuring the photographs of Beijing-based photographer and computer engineer Li Ju. Shelley is one of the scholars working on the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project – a Chinese-American collaboration that is one of the more exciting projects afoot at Stanford. From the website: “Between 1865 and 1869, thousands of Chinese migrants toiled at a grueling pace and in perilous working conditions to help construct America’s first Transcontinental Railroad. The Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project seeks to give a voice to the Chinese migrants whose labor on the Transcontinental Railroad helped to shape the physical and social landscape of the American West. The Project coordinates research in North America and Asia in order to create an on-line digital archive available to all, along with books, digital visualizations, conferences and public events.” And, as the poster below notes, the railroads are how Leland Stanford built the fortune that eventually created Stanford in the first place.

The exhibition started a few days ago, and continues through next Wednesday, November 18, at the Packard Electrical Engineering Building. And if you haven’t heard about the project – a short video below. Shelley is in it.


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