Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
There are two tales behind Paul Siu's The Chinese Laundryman: A Study of Social Isolation. It is his detailed insider's description and analysis of the Chinese Americans who were commonly tracked into this occupation prior to World War II. The immigrant laundrymen of Chinatown worked long hours for low wages and predominantly remained isolated from mainstream Anglo society. This recent publication of Siu's 1953 dissertation is also the story of a son of a Chinese laundryman who immigrated to the United States in 1927 and became a student of Ernest Burgess at the University of Chicago School of Sociology dominated by Robert Parks. University of Chicago Press at the time felt that Siu's finished research was not "marketable" enough to be considered for publication, and it remained buried in obscure archives until John Tchen of the New York Chinatown History Project accidentally came across it in 1980. Tchen, thankfully, recognized the importance of this dissertation to ethnic studies and tracked down Paul Siu. Siu passed away just prior to the final publication of this book, another "Chinaman" buried before his contributions to his adopted homeland could be properly recognized.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1989