Thank you for taking the time to respond to these questions about your ancestor! We realize that you are unlikely to know the answers to many of these questions. That is fine. Please simply answer as many questions as you can. We greatly appreciate your sharing your time -- and your knowledge -- with our project.
The Chinese Railroad Workers Project is looking for descendants who worked on the transcontinental railroad between 1865 and 1869. (But we are interested, as well, in knowing about individuals who worked on other lines during the decades that followed.)
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Note: Providing the information requested here will allow us to contact you for possible follow up. In some cases we conduct phone or online interviews. In other cases we arrange to videotape interviews. Whether or not we film your story by providing the information here you are contributing in important ways to our understanding of this important and neglected chapter of the past. We will keep your personal contact information confidential (email, mailing address and phone number). By filling out this questionnaire about your ancestor and his descendants you give us permission to use the information you provide in our research, including your own name and those of specific relatives you mention.
Your Email Address *
Address Line 2
State / Province / Region
Postal / Zip Code
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Central African Republic
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sao Tome and Principe
Serbia and Montenegro
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
Your Phone Number
Please fill out this survey to the best of your ability.
(We refer to descendants as masculine, since the vast majority of the Chinese railroad workers were, but please tell us about your female descendants, too!)
What was his name?
How are you related to this ancestor? (Great grandson or daughter, great great grandson or daughter, etc.)
What village in China did he come from?
When was he born?
What language or dialect did he speak?
What did he do for a living in China?
Tell us what you know about the family (parents, siblings, spouses and children) left in China.
Do you know how he was recruited to work on the railroad?
When did he come to the US?
Did he come with any other family members or friends? If so, who?
Any information regarding the passage experience? Name of sailing vessel?
Do you know his route of passage? Were there any stops?
Any details of the voyage?
Did he come alone?
Where in the U.S. did he first land? When was that?
What kind of reception did he have?
Do you know whether he was literate?
Do you know the name of the railroad company he worked for? That is, what railroad line did he work on? In what state?
What labor did he perform for the railroad companies?
How long did he work? Was it continuous or did he work at other jobs too?
What were the wages?
Did he send remittances to China?
Where did he live? Was this provided by the railroad company?
What were the housing conditions like?
What hardships did he encounter?
What recollections or stories can you remember circulating about this work on the railroad?
When did he stop working on the railroad?
What did he do afterwards? Where did he go? What employment did he find?
Where did he work and live?
Did he return to China? (If so, when?)
Who did he marry, if he married?
What were the names of his children? When were they born? Where did they live?
Did he ever come back to the US?
Did he send his children to the US?
Do you have any family papers? If so, could you briefly describe them?
Do you have any family photographs? If so, could you briefly describe them?
What are your feelings about being a descendant of a railroad worker? What does this work mean to you today, what does it mean for your children?
How do you feel about the legacy of your ancestors?
How do you feel about the lack of attention that their contributions have received?
Questionnaire, Part 6 -- Other Individuals to Contact
Are there others who we should contact? Do you have other relatives who might have additional information about your ancestor? Or views on this topic?
Do you have a story or anecdote about your railroad ancestor that has been passed down in your family?
Many thanks, again, for taking the time to share this information with us!
Date and Place *
Please skip. Do not fill this out.