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Chinese Exclusion Act: Topics in Chronicling America

During the late 1800's, the Chinese Exclusion Act prevented Chinese laborers from immigrating to the U.S. This guide provides access to materials related to the “Chinese Exclusion Act” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Chinese Minister, Wu Ting Fang opposes the Chinese Exclusion Act and appears before the Senate Committee on Immigration in 1902. January 23, 1902. Evening Bulletin (Oahu, HI), Image 3. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Emma Lazarus wrote on the Statue of Liberty, reflecting the importance of immigration in the United States. Yet in 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act prohibited the immigration of all Chinese laborers. The Act, only repealed in 1943, was one of the most significant restrictions on free immigration in US history. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


May 1882 Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act and President Chester A. Arthur signs it.
April 30, 1882 Chinese immigrants in Canada poised to cross U.S. border when Exclusion Act expires.
September 1899 Hawaiian sugar planters “grievously” violate Exclusion law.
November 21-23, 1901 Chinese Exclusion Convention “demands” re-enactment of Exclusion Law to protect labor.
November 26, 1901 San Francisco Call reports plan to “flood” U.S. with Chinese workers via Mexican border.
December 6, 1901 William Jennings Bryan supports Chinese Exclusion law extension.
April 16, 1902 Senate passes bill continuing Chinese Exclusion laws, extending Geary Act to 1904.
1905-1907 Widespread debate over effect of Exclusion Act on U.S. economy and possible omission of certain “classes” from the law.
March 1909 Philippine Attorney General maintains Exclusion laws not applicable to Philippines.