Category: Books

Beyond the paywall

This morning I have put a pdf copy of my latest publication up on my website, and it should also soon be available through the University of Wollongong’s Research Online digital repository. These facts don’t seem very remarkable, except that this week I’ve had to assert my rights to be able to do so.

The original contributor agreement I signed for this publication fitted with my desire for my research to be available to as many people as possible – not held prisoner behind a paywall or buried in an unafforable hardcopy volume. Turns out, the book is an unafforable hardcopy volume, published by Routledge – but at least I would be able to make my chapter available. Or so I thought.

The original publisher of the book, Ashgate, was taken over by Taylor & Francis at some point in the book’s gestation, hence why it has come out through Routledge (part of the Taylor & Francis group). In the original contributor agreement with Ashgate, I retained the following rights as author:

  • to photocopy the work for my own use
  • to excerpt the work and/or develop the content in a new publication, providing due acknowledgement was made of the original publication
  • to include the work in a collection of my own previously published work, providing due acknowledgement was made of the original publication
  • to upload the published version of the chapter to my institutional repository and/or my personal website, with full publication details of the book – and Ashgate would send a pdf of the published version on request.

This week I contacted Taylor & Francis to request the pdf copy of my published chapter. I was told by Taylor & Francis that I needed to sign another form, a Professional Academic Licence Agreement, before they would provide me with the pdf. This form stated that the pdf (the ‘original files’) would be provided for academic use at my institution, but that I could not:

  • use the original files for any personal, non-commercial purpose
  • use the original files for any commercial purpose
  • make the original files available to anyone [!?!]

It also stated that Taylor & Francis would take legal action should ‘illegitimate copies of the work be distributed’ by me or any third party. Nice.

This was clearly not what I had agreed to when I signed the original Ashgate agreement, so I questioned it. After a couple of emails back and forth with Taylor & Francis, I was sent the pdf in an email that stated:

‘I gather that the department that deals with this sort of thing generally expects a new licence to be signed, but they have agreed to work with your Ashgate agreement, so have supplied the attached file.’

So they should.

P.S. I’d like to add that I’m really pleased that the book’s editors included my work in the volume, and I thank them for their effort in putting the collection together. I’m still waiting on my author’s copy to arrive, but am looking forward to reading it cover to cover.

 

 

 

Top 3 tips for Chinese Australian family history research

Here are my ‘top 3’ suggestions on where to start your Chinese Australian history.

(Note: these suggestions are most relevant for New South Wales, and for tracing Chinese ancestors who arrived in Australia from south China before World War II.)

Wedding of Elsie May Chinn and Kum Mow, Sydney, 1917 (Sun, 18 February 1917, p. 16, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article221962375)

Top 3 sources

Look here first!

  • Birth, death and marriage records – You can search for and purchase copies of BDM certificates through the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, or get transcriptions through an agent. If you can, get copies of more than just your direct ancestral line (e.g. birth certificates for your grandmother’s siblings as well as your grandmother), since certificates often contain different bits of information. Also see if you can find church or parish registers and family notices in the newspaper.
  • Trove digitised newspapers – Try searching Trove using variations of your ancestors’ names, limit your searches by state or to a particular newspaper, or search more generally using a term like ‘Chinese’ and the place they lived.
  • National Archives of Australia (NAA) – Search in RecordSearch using variations of your family members’ names. The NAA collection is vast, but here’s an example of what you might find.

Top 3 research tips

  • Researching your Chinese Australian family is largely like researching any other Australian family. Some of the records you consult might be different (e.g. immigration, naturalisation or alien registration files), but the principles are the same. Contact your local library, historical society or genealogical society for help.
  • Chinese names were written down in many different ways in Australian records. Few records give people’s real Chinese names. Keep a list of each different spelling of your ancestor’s name you find, to use in keyword or name searches.
  • To trace your Chinese family back to China, you need to know their real Chinese name (preferably in characters) and their home province and district (‘Canton, China’ isn’t enough). During your research be on the look out for anything written in Chinese characters and make a copy.

Top 3 books

  • Janis Wilton, Golden Threads: The Chinese in Regional New South Wales, 1850-1950, New England Regional Art Museum in association with Powerhouse Publishing, Armidale, NSW, 2004
  • John Fitzgerald, Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia, University of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 2007
  • Shirley Fitzgerald, Red Tape, Gold Scissors: The Story of Sydney’s Chinese, revised edition, Halstead in association with the City of Sydney, Ultimo, NSW, 2008

Top 3 websites

  • Chinese Genealogy – a really helpful forum that’s especially useful for tracing your ancestral village
  • Chinese-Canadian Genealogy – the specifics are Canadian, but this site provides many ideas that can be applied to Australian research

Book launch for ‘Chinese Australians’, Melbourne, 24 April 2015

Cover of 'Chinese Australians'Everyone is warmly invited to the launch of Chinese Australians: Politics, Engagement and Resistance, edited by Sophie Couchman and me.

Bringing together contributions from eleven key scholars in Chinese Australian history, the book explores how Chinese Australians have influenced the communities in which they lived on a civic or individual level. Focusing on the motivations and aspirations of their subjects, the authors draw on biography, world history, case law, newspapers and immigration case files to investigate the political worlds of Chinese Australians in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The book will be launched by Ms Nancy Gordon, Australian Consul-General in Chengdu, China.

Coincidentally held the day before Anzac Day, the launch is also a great opportunity to see the Chinese Museum’s exhibition Chinese Anzacs: Chinese Australians and World War One.

When: Friday, 24 April 2015 at 11.00am
Where: Chinese Museum, 22 Cohen Place, Melbourne (behind Her Majesty’s Theatre)
RSVP: 22 April 2015 to curator@chinesemuseum.com.au or 03 9662 2888

Books will be available for purchase on the day at a discounted rate. For more information about the book, see www.brill.com/products/book/chinese-australians.

Sophie and I look forward to seeing you there.

Happy Valley: Patrick White’s impressions of an Anglo-Chinese family

Today’s Canberra Times features an article by David Marr about Australian novelist Patrick White’s forgotten first book, Happy Valley, ‘the thylacine of Australian literature’. It was written while White was working as a jackaroo at Bolaro (or Bolero) in southern NSW. He took horses to be shod in nearby Adaminaby and there encountered the Anglo-Chinese Yens, who formed the basis for the novel’s Quong family. A review in the Adelaide Mail wrote:

Mr. White has set his novel in an Australian town — but what a town! In the winter it is snowed in; in the summer it is burning hot. Its inhabitants are the mixed lot you find in any town — but what a lot! The sanest and most decent people there seem to be the family of half Chinese, two of whom conduct the general store … (The Mail, 22 February 1941)

The Yens (or Yans) were not the only Anglo-Chinese family who had made Adaminaby their home. For a long time Adaminaby was also home to the Booshang (later Booshand) family, among others, but they had moved on by the time White arrived in the town:

Twin sisters Anastasia and Jane Thomas married John Booshang and Charles Chun Yin, later known as Yen, within a few years of each other at Cooma in the early 1880s. Anastasia and Jane, born in 1864, were the daughters of Cooma residents Thomas Thomas and Johanna Shanahan who had married in the town in 1858. Anastasia and John, who married in 1881, had three children and Jane and Charles had two, before both families moved to Adaminaby in around 1888. Here they settled themselves, opening a store and Jane and Anastasia having four and five more children respectively.

Both families became established members of the Adaminaby community. John Booshang lived there until his death in 1923, at which point Anastasia moved to Sydney to be with her children, dying there in 1934. The Yen family maintained their businesses in the town and were compulsorily moved in the early 1950s when the old Adaminaby township was flooded as part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme. (Kate Bagnall, Golden Shadows on a White Land, p.131)

Happy Valley was published in 1939 and won the Australian Society of Literature’s gold medal in 1941. Despite this acclaim, White never allowed the novel to be reprinted in English. According to David Marr, this was because:

White could never shake the fear that … [the Yens] … could sue for what he did to them in the pages of Happy Valley. He could not be reassured about this. White went to his grave fearing the revenge of the Yens.

A century after White’s birth and more than seventy years after Happy Valley first appeared, the novel is now being republished, with its release due in August this year. Apparently printed copies of the original version are rare and valuable, but if you can’t wait until August to read Happy Valley, a digitised version is available in the Haithi Trust Digital Library.

Postscript

The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age both published the same article by Marr about Happy Valley. The Herald received a response from a Yen descendent named Laurann Yen, which it published on 30 May 2012. She wrote:

In Happy Valley White does indeed steal my grandparents and report them spitefully: they are without humour, without grace, without respite from the bleak town and their bleak relationship; two dry peas in a miserable pod. But there is wonderful White as well – a sense of place, where every tree, every verandah, every small comforting pretension gets into your bones. I know, more from White than from memory, every person.

The letters page of the Herald on 2 June 2012 also includes a postscript which talks a bit about Marr’s unsuccessful attempts to track down members of the Yen family:

After all these years comes this generous response: acknowledging that White looked on their grandparents with a cold and unforgiving eye but nevertheless wrote a fine book,’ he says. ‘Such forgiveness is rare.’

From Canton with Courage: exhibition on the Chinese at Parramatta

The Parramatta Heritage Centre has a new exhibition, From Canton with Courage: Australian Chinese in Parramatta and Beyond, which is on now until 11 March 2012. The exhibition is a partnership between the centre and Jack Brook, who recently produced a book on the same subject. I haven’t yet managed to get my hands on the book (although I note it’s in the National Library – maybe time for another visit!). I know of a couple of families with Parramatta connections, so I’ll be interested to see if they get a mention.

What: From Canton with Courage: Australian Chinese in Parramatta and beyond
Where: Parramatta Heritage Centre, 346A Church Street, Parramatta
When: 23 July 2011 to 11 March 2012

LJ Hooker’s Chinese roots

His name is known across the country, but until recently the true story of LJ Hooker’s early life was unknown, even to his own family. Now, after five years of research, writing and production, Natalia Hooker has published a lavish biography as a tribute to her famous grandfather. The book, LJ Hooker the Man: The Untold Story of an Australian Icon, is particularly interesting for what it reveals about LJ Hooker’s Chinese roots.

Black and white portrait of LJ Hooker

Until an article in the Sydney Morning Herald published in 1985, nine years after Sir Les’ death, nothing was publicly known, or rather said, about LJ Hooker’s Chinese ancestry. The article revealed that LJ was ‘of Chinese origin’ and had changed his name by deed poll from Tingyou to Hooker in 1925 (Sydney Morning Herald, 13 March 1985).

In the preface to her biography, Natalia Hooker explains that there were many theories about the origins of the name Hooker:

The most popular story is that LJ’s Chinese father was a railway engineer named Tingyou who had invented the ‘hooker’ coupling system for rail carriages. Another suggestion was the LJ was an admirer of the American Civil War general, Joseph Hooker, whose statue had been built in his honour in Boston in 1903, the year of LJ’s birth. None of these accounts were particularly convincing. (LJ Hooker the Man, p. 5)

Fay Pemberton, the daughter of LJ’s cousin Sylvia, told Natalia a different and much more plausible story, however. Fay said that Hooker was, in fact, LJ’s father’s name.

LJ’s mother Ellen Tingyou, known as Nellie, was 18 and unmarried when she gave birth to her son on 18 August 1903. As was customary at the time for unmarried mothers, Nellie’s baby’s birth was registered with no record of his father.

Little Leslie grew up surrounded by family though – he and Nellie lived together with his grandfather, Chinese-born James Tingyou; aunts Mary Quan and Rosanna Davis; uncles Chun Quan, John Davis and James Tingyou junior; and his cousins William and Percy Quan and Biddy and Sylvia Davis. It was a household in which Chinese must have been spoken, at least by LJ’s grandfather, James Tingyou, and uncle-by-marriage, Chun Quan.

When LJ’s mother Nellie died from tuberculosis in 1911, at the age of 25, it was this extended family that raised him – in particular, his cousin Sylvia who was only six years his senior.

A mystery half solved

For Natalia Hooker, LJ’s parents were something of an enigma. Other than Fay Pemberton’s comment about the Hooker name, Natalia had no clue as to LJ’s father’s identity; she also knew little about the short life of LJ’s mother, Nellie. After some unsuccessful attempts to track down records of the births of Nellie and her siblings, Natalia approached me to see what I could uncover, particularly about the family’s Chinese connection.

As with much family history research, particularly those with Chinese heritage, the trick was in thinking creatively about names. Natalia knew details of the marriage of LJ’s maternal grandparents, James Tingyou and Rosanna Dillon, but there was no trace of their four children under either of their surnames. It turned out that the births of Mary Alice, Rosanna junior, James junior and Ellen (Nellie) were registered under the surname Harlet, and also that in some of the records their Chinese father was listed as being English. When James and Rosanna were married by Rev. James Fullerton in Sydney in 1874, Rosanna’s age was put up to 22 so that she did not need the consent of her parents to marry. It seems, sadly, that she may have been estranged from her Irish-born parents and siblings and felt the need to lie about her name and her husband’s birthplace.

Discovering the Harlet name led, inevitably, to some more small discoveries. But the real clincher came when I found a death registration for LJ’s mother, Nellie Tingyou, under the name Ellen Hookin. With Fay Pemberton’s comment at the back of my mind, the immediate similarity between Hookin and Hooker was striking! The story got even more intriguing when I saw that the informant of her death was a man who described himself as her husband, Harry Hookin.

From Hook Yin to Hookin to Hooker?

Harry Hookin had arrived in Sydney as Hook Yin, a thirteen-year-old boy whose cabinetmaker father was a long-term Sydney resident and naturalised British subject. Already proficient in English, Hookin attended and did very well at school and, in time, took over management of his father’s business, Sing War & Son in Albion Place. At the time of Nellie’s death he gave his place of residence as Beecroft, where the extended Tingyou family were also living – it is possible that Hookin was one among the tangle of aunts, uncles and cousins with whom the young LJ Hooker shared his home.

Harry Hookin, 1911. NAA: ST84/1, 1911/68/61-70.

After Nellie’s death is would seem that Harry Hookin disappeared from LJ’s life though. Three years later he married ‘again’ (he claimed to have married Nellie Tingyou in 1910, for which I have failed to locate a marriage registration) and there remained no memory of him among the Tingyou descendants.

The obvious question remains, however – was Harry Hookin LJ’s father? As Natalia Hooker concludes, ‘it is impossible to know for sure whether or not Hookin was Les’s biological father’ and a number of facts, such as his age – only 17 when LJ was born in 1903 – perhaps suggest otherwise. But, to quote Natalia again:

the fact that Les, as an adult, chose to change his name to Hooker, suggests that, at a minimum, Harry Hookin was a father figure to Les. (LJ Hooker the Man, p. 42)

Some more records about Harry Hookin have recently come to light, but whether they are able to prove anything is another question! It may well be that this remains one of those mysteries that is impossible to solve.

About the book

LJ Hooker the Man: The Untold Story of an Australian Icon by Natalia Hooker (self-published, 2010) is available to order online: www.ljhookertheman.com. It costs $54.95, free delivery. It is available in bookstores throughout Australia as of February 2011. You can also see a preview of the book.

Discussion on Stan Hunt’s book ‘From Shekki to Sydney’

I’ve already mentioned Stan Hunt’s book From Shekki to Sydney: An Autobiography. Here’s an opportunity to meet the author, editor and publisher.

What: Discussion on Stan Hunt’s book From Shekki to Sydney: An Autobiography
When: Thursday 11 March, 12:15pm
Where: Customs House Library, Circular Quay (Level 2 Meeting Room), Sydney

Blurb: Join Stan Hunt, Diana Giese as editor and Dr Mabel Lee as publisher, to discuss Stan’s new book, From Shekki to Sydney: An Autobiography. It’s an enthralling account of his family story, including his close relationship with his father, and the arrival of his grandfather in Australia in the late 1880s. The book offers a window into vanished worlds such as the villages of interwar southern China and country New South Wales emerging from the Depression. Stan describes setting up a series of successful family businesses in Sydney, as well as contributing to the community through service to Rotary, the Freemasons, the Chung Shan Society and the Australian Chinese Community Association.

Stan will discuss the book with Diana Giese at a free event at Customs House Library, Circular Quay (Level 2 Meeting Room), from 12.15–1.00pm on Thursday 11 March 2010.

Diana Giese has worked with Chinese Australian communities countrywide to produce the Post-War Chinese Australians project for the National Library of Australia, and have written books in the field including Astronauts, Lost Souls and Dragons (University of Queensland Press) and Beyond Chinatown (National Library of Australia). Diana Giese has collaborated on life story books with people of Polish, Hungarian, Slovakian, German, Austrian and Indian background, as well as Stan.

Dr Mabel Lee set up and runs the independent publisher Wild Peony, showcasing new writing and arts, focusing on Chinese-related themes. She has facilitated the careers of many of the most celebrated Chinese writers, artists and performers, including 2000 Nobel Prize-winner Gao Xingjian, whose work she translates. Her academic research is on modern Chinese intellectual history and literature.

From Shekki to Sydney: An Autobiography by Stanley Hunt

A new book that might be of interest (via chinatown.com.au):

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries large numbers of Chinese travelled to the USA, Australia and other parts of the world to prospect for gold, or to work as labourers, gardeners and traders, but there are few eyewitness accounts of the lives of these people who predominantly came from South China. Stanley Hunt’s From Shekki to Sydney fills part of that gap in Chinese and Australian social history by documenting his childhood in Shekki, his experiences after relocating to Australia, and the lives of his parents and grandparents. His story will resonate with those of many silent others all over the world.

From Shekki to Sydney by Stanley Hunt

Stanley Hunt was born Chan Pui-Tak in Shekki, Zhongshan county, Guangdong province, China. The Japanese had invaded North China, and were beginning to bomb Shekki and the nearby coastal areas of South China when he, his mother and two younger siblings, left home to join his father in Australia. Reunited in Sydney on 5 April 1939, the small family travelled north to the county town of Warialda where his father ran a general store. Australian troops were fighting in Europe and Asia, the country was still suffering lingering effects of the Great Depression, and his father was on the verge of bankruptcy. On the timely advice of a travelling salesman, his father was able to save himself from financial ruin by negotiating new terms for repaying his accounts.

Through times of rations and quotas, the family value-added to their limited supplies, worked very hard and paid off their debts before relocating to Sydney in early 1945. Stanley and his father acquired businesses and prospered. Stanley is recognised for his significant contributions to social and community work in Australia, and China.

The father worked in Australia and had only returned to Shekki a couple of times during the author’s childhood: father and son were virtual strangers when they were reunited in Australia in 1939. As a twelve-year-old boy he began to work as a man alongside his father, and the development of their relationship contains many poignant moments that underscore the impact of ‘old country’ traditions on a younger generation of Chinese maturing into adults in Australia. The author is a highly observant ‘outsider’ as he grows from boy to man and is transformed into an ‘insider’.

If you are interested in the above abstract, please order your new book: From Shekki to Sydney: An Autobiography by Stanley Hunt, 200 pp. including 42 black & white photographs. Softcover: AUS $37.50.

In Sydney, copies are now available at GLEEBOOKS at 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW 2037, phone (02) 9660 2333, www.gleebooks.com.au.

Alternatively, the book can be ordered through local bookshops.

ISBN: 978 1 876957 15 5
Sydney: Wild Peony, September 2009
International distribution: University of Hawaii Press. www.uhpress.hawaii.edu

Eric Rolls’ ‘Citizens’ translated into Chinese

Eric Rolls’ history of the Chinese in Australia from 1888, Citizens: Flowers and the Wide Sea, has been translated into Chinese by Zhang Wei, a professor at Shandong University. The translation was launched at the Australian Embassy in Beijing on 4 September. See an article about it in the People’s Daily Online. Makes me think that it really is time someone else wrote a ‘definitive’ history of the Chinese in Australia…