How many ordinary people and their lives are lost to history? How do historians find information about individuals whose lives didn't seem important enough to be recorded in history books? We know very little about early Chinese immigrants, like Mr. Lee, in Montgomery County. What little we do know is thanks to the federal census. Through the census we know at least their vital statistics - but such information tells only a tiny part of each of their stories. For instance, the 1910 census tells us that Mr. Lee was born in 1856 in China, came to America in 1887, that he ran a laundry in Rockville, and was married. Where was his wife? Where did he live before moving to Rockville? He does not appear in the 1920 county census - where did he go after leaving Montgomery County? What was his relationship - if any - with the other gentlemen named Lee who operated the same Rockville laundry in the 1920s and 1930s? Click on the links below to explore how historians use documents like the federal census to piece together information to tell the stories of forgotten individuals, as well as to learn more about early Chinese immigrants in Montgomery County.
LISTEN AND LEARN!
To read a transcript of the audio recording click here.
Click on the links below to learn more about Chinese immigration in Montgomery County and how the U.S. Census is used for historical research.