San Mateo County Genealogical Society's Blog featuring society events, projects, meeting notes and other items of relevance to genealogists.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Minorities Not Welcome

Most genealogists, who spend any time online, have seen one or more posts about the 14 year old girl who one upped the college professor who had taken it upon himself to insist that "No Irish need apply" was a figment of an imaginary past.  Well, those of us with Irish ancestors know that the prejudice encountered was real as were the signs.  My own great-grandparents were lucky enough to find jobs in St. Paul on their arrival, but housing was another matter.  In the end they pooled their money and made a down payment on land where they built a multifamily dwelling.  Even then an unscrupulous landowner tried to cheat them, and their new neighbors, out of the land by not filing the deeds.

Prejudice did exist in all phases of the settling of the US.  Against Anibaptists, against Native Americans, against Catholics, against Jews, against Irish, against Germans, against Blacks, against Asians, and on and on.........

Time does not change the past..only hopefully the attitudes that created that past.  A good genealogist and a good historian will not only accept that the past happened but try to learn more about it.  

S0...... fitting right in with that concept and the July SMCGS: Databases Online, is the "Cases of Sing Sheng and Robert U.M. Ting" by Mitchell P. Postel in the new issue of La Peninsula, the Journal of the San Mateo County Historical Association.  The focus of the entire issue is Chinese Americans in San Mateo County.  The article discusses the successful effort of a South San Francisco neighborhood to keep Sheng, a SF Airport mechanic,  and his family from purchasing a house in their neighborhood in 1952. The second part of the article is equally interesting. Robert U.M. Ting was a purchasing agent for Magna Engineering and a charter member of the Menlo Park Exchange Club.  Then, in 1954, the National Exchange Club stepped in stating the rules did not allow "non-whites" to belong.  In this case the Menlo Park club ended up disbanding rather than oust Ting.  They were followed by other California chapters.

This article as well as the rest of the journal is a must read for anyone interested in San Mateo County, or for that matter in US history.  If you don't belong to SMCHA you will find a copy of the journal in the SMCGS library.  Or visit the SMCHA Archives where you are sure to find a copy as well as being able to access some of the sources that went into the writing.

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