Category: Resources

What you can find in Police Gazettes

I have just dragged myself away from the library, where I could well have become seriously lost in the Police Gazettes. These addictive volumes contain all manner of information about criminal and policing matters and are particularly interesting in what they reveal, often in minute detail, about the things people did, what stuff they had, where they lived and who they knew. Of course, to be included people mostly had to be either a criminal, wanted by the police, a victim of crime, a missing person or the like (although others do get a mention for various reasons).

Many of the Police Gazettes have been copied and are available on CD as searchable PDF documents. (You can find more about these on the Archive CD Books website – just search for ‘police gazette’). This is very handy, and a little bit of keyword searching in random volumes could well occupy many a happy hour.

Here’s a few ‘Chinese’ things.

Theft

From Victoria Police Gazette, 16 September 1909, p. 363

JAMES CHIN YOUNG, cabinetmaker, 300 Exhibition-street, Melbourne, reports stolen from his dwelling, on the 14th inst., 2 carpenters’ planes, “Louey Won, maker,” stamped on end, one about 16 inches long and the other about 6 or 7 inches long; a 56-lb bag of rice, bag made of Chinese straw, “F.K., No. 1, Melbourne,” on it and some Chinese characters; an English-Chinese dictionary, with “James Chin Young” stamped inside, 9 by 6 inches; a gent’s black silk umbrella, crook handle, opens with a spring; and a Chinese bangle. Value £6. Entrance was effected through the back window.–O.6759. 15th September, 1909.

From Victoria Police Gazette, 2 September 1910, p. 414

AH HOW, gardener, Albert-street, Brunswick East, reports stolen from his dwelling, on the 26th or 27th inst., a small round alarm clock, “Ah How” on back, and in Chinese letters “Louie How”; a blue jumper; a pair of cotton pyjamas; a cotton singlet; a pillow slip; a butcher’s knife; a corkscrew; a tin opener; a gent’s umbrella, crooked handle; 2 photos. of complainant’s garden; and some celery and lettuce seed. Value £3. Entrance was effected by breaking the glass in a window.–O.5805. 29th August, 1910.

Desertion

From Victoria Police Gazette, 13 October 1910, p. 472

YEN MEE LANG TIP is charged, on warrant, issued at the instance of his wife, Ethel Theresa Lang Tip, green-grocer, Korumburra, with deserting his six children, at Korumburra, ont he 17th ult. Description:–Half-caste Chinese, 34 years of age, 5 feet 10 inches high, rather stout build, square shoulders, light-brown eyes, dark moustache only, shiny black hair, with curl in centre of forehead, false teeth on top jaw, speaks good English, two fingers of left hand are turned in.–O.6635A. 7th October, 1910.

Forgery

From New South Wales Police Gazette, 2 November 1910, p. 376

Tamworth.–A warrant has been issued by the Tamworth Bench for the arrest of Amy Camoline Win, charges with forging a cheque for £30. She is 13 years and four months of age, about 4 feet 10 inches high, slight build, rather sallow complexion, dark-brown straggly hair, brown eyes, good teeth; dressed in green straw hat with black velvet band, white linen blouse, lace insertion front and buttons at back, green serge skirt, black leather belt, tan lace-up shoes and tan stockings; a half-caste Chinese, but shows little Chinese.

Forgotten heroes

A guest post in honour of the 90th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. Alastair Kennedy, who is undertaking a PhD at the Australian National University, shares with us some of the experiences of Chinese Australians who served in World War I.

Forgotten heroes – Chinese Australians in the First Australian Imperial Force 1914–20

Due both to the accident of its colonial history and the deliberate imposition of the White Australia Policy after Federation, the First Australian Imperial Force (1st AIF) that set out for Egypt in the troop transports from Australia’s west coast ports in 1915 was predominantly of white European stock. It was a requirement under federal regulations, in force from 1910, that members of the permanent and citizens forces were to be ‘substantially of European origin or descent’.

Yet, despite this and the other discriminatory legislation, Australians of Chinese descent did enlist and served with distinction during World War I. Based on an analysis of the 1911 census it has been estimated that there were less than 2000 full- and part-Chinese Australian males eligible to enlist. Using known Chinese surnames and building on information from Gilbert Jan’s 1999 Sydney Memorial Honour Roll, the 2003 Chinese Heritage of Australia Federation Project’s database compiled by La Trobe University and information supplied by the Golden Dragon Museum in Ballarat, I have so far identified in the records of the Australian War Memorial and National Archives of Australia some 197 diggers of certain Chinese ancestry who served in the 1st AIF.

Between them, these Chinese Australians were awarded five Distinguished Conduct Medals (DCM), fourteen Military Medals (MM), two Belgian Croix de Guerre and three Mentions in Dispatches (MID). In proportion to their numbers, this represents a much higher ratio of gallantry awards per head than the rest of the AIF.

There are many names that already feature in Chinese Australian history; for example, Herbert Kong Meng (21), Arthur Quong Tart (3262) and Christopher Shying (3232), respectively descendants of the more famous Lowe Kong Meng, Mei Quong Tart and John Joseph Shying (who himself had served with the New South Wales Volunteer Rifles in the Sudan Expeditionary Force).

Here are some other 1st AIF Chinese Australian heroes.

Caleb James Shang (2504) DCM and Bar, MM

Caleb Shang was the most decorated Australian of Chinese descent in World War I. He was born in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane, in 1884 to Lee Wah Shang, a cabinet-maker, and Jane nee Noon of Gayndah, the eldest of 13 children. His unit was in action at the Messines Ridge and he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery. Just over a year later Shang, now serving in the 45th Battalion, was awarded both a Bar to his DCM (in effect earning the same medal twice) and the Military Medal for his actions at Dernancourt on the Somme. His brother Sidney also served.

Billy Sing (5794) DCM, Mention in Despatches, Belgian Croix de Guerre

Featured in John Hamilton’s recent book Gallipoli Sniper (Pan Macmillan, 2008), Trooper Billy Sing of the 5th Light Horse was born in Clermont, Queensland. He had worked in the bush as a stockman and was both a skilled horseman and a crack shot. In May 1915 his unit embarked for Gallipoli where he started to earn a reputation as a sniper. In December 1915 the Army Corps Commander published a paragraph in Army Orders congratulating Billy on ‘performing his duty at a sniper post’ and ‘accounting for 201 casualties to the enemy’. This was followed by the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Later, in France he was wounded twice (once at Polygon Wood) and was Mentioned in Dispatches for gallantry and awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

Sergeant Leslie Kew-Ming (657) MM

Leslie Kew-Ming was born in St Arnaud, Victoria. He served with 23 Battalion in Belgium, was wounded in action and awarded the Military Medal.

Corporal William Loo Long (3364) MM and Bar

William Loo Long was born in Marsden, NSW. He served with 45 Battalion where he earned his first Military Medal in April 1918 at Dernacourt in France. Later, during operations East of Hamel, he earned a Bar to his MM (in effect a second MM). His brother George Thomas Loo Long also served.

The Sam family

Five of the seven sons in the Sam family from West Wyalong served in the AIF. Four of the brothers were Sergeant George Flood Sam (2671) MM, Henry Herbert (676), James Francis (1431) and Norman (1430). The fifth brother appears not to have enlisted under the name ‘Sam’ (or any variation of that), and his service record hasn’t been located.

The Lepp family

James Lepp and George Lepp of Ballarat each had 3 sons – each family had one son killed in action; the others returned safely, one with a Military Medal. They were Albert Edward (4539) KIA, Arthur Norman (1938), Clarence Rupert (2199) MM, James Edwin (2198), Reginald Charles (4540) and Victor Stanley (1576) KIA.

The Langtipp family

All four brothers in the Langtipp family of Port Albert joined the 4th Regimentt Light Horse – each returned safely to Australia, one with a Distinguished Conduct Medal. They were Bertie Allan (2346), Ernest Walter (2345), Henry (2347) and Leslie Oliver (2348) DCM.

I am sure there are many other Chinese Australians who enlisted in the 1st AIF under assumed or Anglicised names. If anyone who reads this has such an ancestor or knows of someone who has, I would be delighted to research them at no cost and provide them with the results. Please help!

Alastair Kennedy
Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
Email: alastair.kennedy@anu.edu.au

A note on World War I service records

Service dossiers for men and women who served in the 1st AIF are held by the National Archives of Australia in Canberra. Most of the files have been digitised and are available to view online. The Archives’ website has general information about the service records and how to access them. You can do a search by name using NameSearch.

A new website from the National Archives, called Mapping our Anzacs, provides a different way of accessing the records. With Mapping our Anzacs you can browse maps to see where World War I servicemen and women were born and enlisted. You can also post comments or photographs about individual service people, or create a tribute about people that are important to you. The links above to Alastair’s Chinese Australian servicemen go to their details in Mapping our Anzacs.

Here are some other sites that might be helpful in finding out about World War I service men and women:

For more on Chinese Australians in the defence forces, see Morah Loh and Judith Winternitz, Dinki-di: The Contributions of Chinese Immigrants and Australians of Chinese Descent to Australia’s Defence Forces and War Efforts, 1899–1988 (Australian Government Publishing Service, 1988).

Minority miners from the State Library NSW

The State Library of New South Wales’ Eureka! The rush for gold web feature includes some interesting material about the Chinese in the section titled Minority miners.

There are links to digitised photographs, paintings and sketches, and images of a most intriguing gold medal from the State Library’s collection. The medal was presented to a goldfields warden in Braidwood in 1881 as a ‘mark of esteem’ by Chinese miners.

The text that goes with these images gives a brief and fairly typical account of the Chinese on the southern Australian goldfields – telling a story of anti-Chinese sentiments, violence, poll taxes, Lambing Flat, anti-Chinese legislation, as well as introducing the exception to all the stereotypes, Quong Tart (there are links to Tart family papers also held by the Library.)

It’s nice to see some of the State Library’s Chinese stuff being highlighted, but it’s a pity that people can’t seem to get past the idea that there isn’t anything more to the story of the goldfields Chinese than rivalry, misunderstanding, prejudice and discrimination. The gold medal, just by itself, suggests that the story is much more complex than that.

Hong Kong Uni theses online

Hong Kong University Theses Online does just what it says – provides online access to theses completed at the University of Hong Kong. You can browse by degree or department and, unlike many other similar online thesis sites, this one provides full-text searching.

There’s much of interest here – including a number of theses I’ve wanted to read for a while – and it’s all available free of charge. Hooray.

Here are some that took my eye:

Michael Williams – Destination qiaoxiang (a must-read thesis! The first real exploration of Australia’s Chinese communities from a transnational perspective)

Geoffrey Emerson – Stanley Internment Camp, Hong Kong, 1942-1945: A study of civilian internment during the Second World War

Stacilee Ford Hosford, Gendered exceptionalisms: American women in Hong Kong and Macao, 1830-2000

CHIU Yiu-tat, Franklin – Lineage and rural industry in South China: The case of Taishan

KO Yeung, Katherine – From ‘slavery’ to ‘girlhood’? Age, gender and race in Chinese and western representations of the mui tsai phenomenon, 1879-1941

Tiziana Salvi, The last fifty years of legal opium in Hong Kong, 1893-1943

WONG Chun-leung, Empire and identity: British elite representations of ‘colonizer’ and ‘colonized’ in Hong Kong, 1880-1941

YU Yang, Remaking Xiamen: Overseas Chinese and regional transformation in architecture and urbanism in the early 20th century

Chinese American women: new online exhibit

Via H-Asia, an announcement of a new online exhibition about the history of Chinese American women.

Chinese American Women: A History of Resilience and Resistance explores the lives of Chinese American women during their first one hundred years in the United States. It has been put together by Jean Pfaelzer, author of Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans (Random House, 2007) for the US National Women’s History Museum.

One of the exhibition’s highlights are the photographs and personal stories of Chinese women in 19th and early 20th century America.

Sidney Gamble China photographs online

The Sidney D Gamble photograph collection, held by Duke University, is available online. Here’s a description from the site:

From 1908 to 1932, Sidney Gamble (1890-1968) visited China four times, traveling throughout the country to collect data for social-economic surveys and to photograph urban and rural life, public events, architecture, religious statuary, and the countryside. A sociologist, renowned China scholar, and avid amateur photographer, Gamble used some of the pictures to illustrate his monographs. The Sidney D. Gamble Photographs digital collection marks the first comprehensive public presentation of this large body of work that includes photographs of Korea, Japan, Hawaii, San Francisco, and Russia.

There are images from Hong Kong, Macau, Guangdong and Fujian. Also a nifty interactive map.

As I was looking through the Guangdong photos, my eye was particularly taken by this image of a rickshaw driver in a fantastic raincoat. It was taken between 1917 and 1919 in Canton.

It reminded me that on one trip to China, I spent some time exploring the ‘antique’ furniture markets in Tanzhou, Zhongshan, just outside of Zhuhai. (The no. 31 bus from Zhuhai went there.) The markets are a mixture of small shops/factories that produce ‘antique’ Chinese furniture and other shops that have genuinely old stuff. These raincoats were hanging outside up outside one little place – one is adult-sized and the other child-sized.

New issue of Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies

The just-released second issue of Chinese Southern Diaspora Studies focuses on Chinese in Australasia and the southwest Pacific. It features articles by Barry McGowan, Mei-Fen Kuo, Benjamin Penny, Sophie Couchman and Brian Moloughney, among others. The journal is bilingual.

I was particularly interested to note Moloughney’s report on the project to create an online database from Alexander Don’s Roll of the Chinese. I have a hard copy of Don’s Roll, in the form of volume four of James Ng’s Windows on a Chinese Past (Otago Heritage Books, 1993-1999), but the potential of the database is great. I’ve been reading up on prosopography and last week attended a great conference on collective biography – and am quite taken by the idea of what databases like these can contribute to our understanding of the Chinese in Australia (or NZ). There are a whole bunch of records out there just crying to be turned into an in-depth prosopographical study!

Finding a connection to China

On 13 September 2008, I spoke at a gathering of the Chinese Australian Historical Society in Sydney. The workshop was called ‘Stepping ashore: How to research your Chinese family history’. It was attended by about 30 people – some just embarking on their family research, some struggling with particular research problems, some well into it and perhaps more knowledgeable than the speakers! Here’s what I talked about, with links and references as promised.

Most people doing Chinese family and community history research start in Australia, with what they know from families and from Australian records. But the lives and journeys of Chinese ancestors began before they stepped ashore here. While not without their challenges, Australian sources can help us find connections back to China – from clues in how Chinese names were romanised to working out what’s written on a Chinese headstone…

The talk focused mostly on how Chinese personal and place names appear in Australian records. Because there was no standard form for romanising Chinese until the 20th century, and because people spoke in different dialects, there is lots of variation in how personal and place names are recorded in English-language sources. Only rarely are Chinese characters included.

These romanised versions of personal and place names can tell us helpful things however. For instance, personal names written with a ‘sl’ or ‘shl’ sound at the beginning (like Dang Bown Sluey or Slit Schin) suggest that these people were likely to be from Taishan, as this sound is particular to Taishanhua rather than Cantonese. Or, a woman’s name that includes a ‘See’ or ‘Shee’ usually gives their father’s family name, and indicates that the woman was married. Ham See, for example, would be a married woman who was born into the Ham family – Ham would be her father’s, not her husband’s, surname.

The native place of many, many Chinese is recorded in Australian records as Canton – which usually means the province of Guangdong, not the city Guangzhou. More occasionally county or city or town or even village names are recorded: Sunning, Sun Wui, Heung Shan, Amoy, Shekki, Kongmoon, Lee Yuan, Bak Shek… Sometimes it’s easy to identify these places, sometimes it’s not. The smaller the place, the harder it can be to identify.

Finding Chinese characters for personal and place names can be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack, but is very helpful if the goal is to locate and visit an ancestral village in China. There are Chinese-language sources, such as newspapers and clan or association records, that could provide these details; Chinese characters are also often found on gravestones and in certain types of government records.

The following are some websites, articles and books that might provide more clues to understanding personal and place names, or might help in locating Chinese characters.

Personal names

Chinese personal names, as they appear in English-language sources, are slippery things. They were written down in many different ways, often with the one person’s name recorded with multiple spellings or multiple variations.

American Emma Woo Louie has written on Chinese American names, much of which applies in the Australian context. Her book is Chinese American Names: Tradition and Transition (McFarland & Company, 2008). A preview of the book is available from Google Book Search. She has also published articles on the subject in the Chinese Historical Society of America’s journal Chinese America: History and Perspectives.

Also see:

Chinese names on the Chinese-Canadian Genealogy website

Kate Bagnall, Golden Shadows on a White Land, PhD thesis, University of Sydney, 2006 – Section 4: Belonging (starts on p. 196)

Janis Wilton, Golden Threads: The Chinese in Regional New South Wales 1850–1950, New England Regional Art Museum, 2004

Places

Like personal names, Chinese place names were written down in various ways. The trick is to be able to ‘translate’ back from the romanised version to how a place is known today. Today’s Jiangmen, for instance, might have been written Quong Moon, Kong Mun, Kongmoon.

The Chinese Genealogy forum is an excellent place to read up on locating and visiting ancestral villages.

You can also browse or search the Surname and Village Database, which provides access to information from the Index of Clan Names By Villages published by the American Consulate General in Hong Kong in the 1970s.

Have a look at Google Maps, or if you’ve got Chinese characters for the place name and can read a bit of Chinese, you can look for it in the online map at ditu.sogou.com. Smaller villages aren’t likely to be there, though.

Gravestones

Headstones in cemeteries can be a great place to find Chinese characters for personal names and native villages. Work on transcribing and interpreting Chinese headstones is happening more and more.

Doris Jones’ Reading Chinese gravestones, on the Golden Threads website, is an excellent introduction to understanding the information written on Chinese headstones.

Also see:

Doris Jones, Remembering the Forgotten: Chinese Gravestones in Rookwood Cemetery 1917–1949, Invenet, Sydney, 2003

Linda Brumley, Liu Bingquan and Zhao Xueru, Fading links to China: Ballarat’s Chinese Gravestones and Associated Records 1854–1955, on the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website

and

Kok Hu Jin’s numerous books describing and translating Chinese gravestones around Australia, published by the Golden Dragon Museum at Bendigo