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Golden Spike Anniversary Topical Collection

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Language Arts And English +11 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary, Adults

This collection was created by Jared Tupuola, a Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center intern. Jared dove into the histories of Chinese laborers and the Golden Spike Anniversary, the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. 

"On May 10, 1869, the Central Pacific and Union Pacific rail lines were connected in a highly publicized ceremony attended by railroad laborers, major financial supporters and the press. Led by industrial tycoon, Leland Stanford, the event commemorated the birth of the First Transcontinental Railroad. The completion of the railroad made national news and was lauded as a great economic and cultural success for the U.S. 

Despite the attention given to the event, there remained one group of contributors who were almost entirely left out of being recognized for their integral work to the project; Chinese railroad laborers. Although making up the vast majority of the physical work force behind the railroad, Chinese labor contributions were largely disregarded. This instance was not unique to many early Chinese Americans who faced discrimination, animosity, and degradation not only in rail work, but in almost every industry and facet of life. The hardships for early Chinese in America were exacerbated by the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 which not only prevented further immigration from China to the U.S., it also birthed an impetus to drive out Chinese communities already established.

Through this collection, the work, lives, and experiences of Chinese laborers and migrants are presented as an opportunity to learn more about how some of America's earliest Chinese residents navigated America in the late 19th Century. This collection provides art, ceramics and information that expounds upon the realities of Chinese American life and the First Transcontinental Railroad while ensuring that the Chinese contributions are not forgotten.  By no means an exhaustive resource, this collection allows for an introduction into Chinese contributions to the Transcontinental Railroad and encourages further exploration into the topic."

3c Transcontinental Railroad single

National Postal Museum

Civil War’s Effect on the Transcontinental Railroad

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Union Pacific Railroad

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Travel to California

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Transcontinental Railroad

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Promontory Summit

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

The Gold Spike

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

American-type Locomotive Model, without Tender

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Theodore Judah

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

James Jerome Hill

National Portrait Gallery

Driving the Last Spike, Thomas Hill, 1881.

California State Railroad Museum

Horace Greeley

National Portrait Gallery

Central Pacific Railroad

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Railroad economy

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Big Four

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Chinese and the Railroad

California State Railroad Museum Library & Archives

Wong Chin Foo

National Portrait Gallery

poem on card

National Museum of American History

Brett Harte Card

National Museum of American History

Union Porcelain Works Figure Group

National Museum of American History

Chinese-American Shop Sign

National Museum of American History

1919 Chinese American Baby Bonnet

National Museum of American History

1895 - 1896 Chinese American Man's Gown

National Museum of American History

Opium pipe and case

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Chinese Wok, c. 1800s

National Museum of American History

1906 Chinese Immigrant’s Lacquer Trunk

National Museum of American History

Wagon Train Fighting off an Indian Attack

National Museum of American History

Union Pacific Rail Road Train Wagon

National Museum of American History

Henry Laurens Dawes

National Portrait Gallery

Horace Greeley

National Portrait Gallery

Manifest Destiny

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Campaign Sketches: The Baggage Train

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Cannel Coal

National Museum of American History

Kalakaua I

National Portrait Gallery

Kalakaua I

National Portrait Gallery

Kalakaua I

National Portrait Gallery