February 20, 2015

WHA Arrington-Prucha Prize

In recognition of the role played by Leonard Arrington and Father Francis Paul Prucha in Western American religious history, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies at Brigham Young University funds this $500 cash prize for the best essay of the year on religious history in the West. The cash prize and a plaque are awarded to the author and a certificate is awarded to the publisher. No time period, geographic restrictions, or questions of religious persuasion apply. To be eligible, articles must have appeared in the prior year in a journal, magazine, or edited volume. Any WHA member, as well as the publisher or author of the essay, may nominate an essay. A copy of the journal, an offprint, or a photocopy must be submitted to each member of the award committee.

To be eligible for award in 2015, the article must have appeared in 2014. Deadline to submit to Awards Committee is April 1, 2015. 

February 16, 2015

Digital American West: A Round-Up

Every week Wiki Education Foundation features articles contributed by student editors in its "The Round Up" Series. Earlier this month, they featured contributions made about the American West in The Round-Up: History of The American West. Highlighting contributions made by students in Dr. Marilynn Johnson's American History West of the Mississippi class, the article features content related to gender and race as well as technology, consumer culture, and violence.

Many thanks to Dr. Johnson's students for contributing content about the American West to the public! Here on the blog we will be featuring student content of our own, especially content that considers religion alongside other social formations. If your class is contributing new digital resources about the American West, then we'd like to add that to our own round-up. Please bring your work to our attention at relamwest [at] gamil [dot] com.

"A pack train," Appleton's Guide to Mexico [1884], found here

February 4, 2015

From the Archives: A 19th-Century San Francisco Chinese Woman's Autobiography

We are pleased to include below the first post in an ongoing occasional series titled "From the Archives." Our first contribution comes from Joshua Paddison.

Autobiography of an Unnamed Chinese Woman
Introduced and Transcribed by Joshua Paddison

The following unnamed Chinese woman’s life story, written “in her own words,” was published in San Francisco’s Presbyterian newspaper, The Occident, on August 5, 1885. At the time, she was an interpreter and resident at the local Presbyterian Mission Home for Girls. Presbyterian missionaries had been working with Chinese immigrants in San Francisco since the 1850s.

In the 1870s, California’s politicians had seized on the figure of the “sinful” and “diseased” Chinese prostitute to urge the necessity of halting immigration from China. This resulted in the Page Act of 1875, the federal government’s first restriction of immigration, which forbade Chinese “coolies” and prostitutes from entering the United States. Protestant missionaries in California generally supported the Page Act but argued that Chinese women could and should be cared for, “uplifted,” and transformed into “useful Christian women.” “What maketh us to differ from them?” asked Presbyterian missionary Samantha Condit in 1874. “God’s grace alone.”

Chinese women’s autobiographical stories such as this one appeared occasionally in California’s Protestant publications, offered as evidence of the progress missionaries were making as well as the redeemability of all of the world’s “races.” These narratives are a largely untapped resource for historians of Asian American history, offering evidence of both the benefits and costs accrued when Chinese Americans joined Protestant churches in the nineteenth century.