The Chinese Digest and Chinatowns in the U.S.


Grant Avenue Hazzard - WatersJLee ChineseDigest 11-1938 p 15
“The Grant Avenue Hazzard” by Waters J. Lee, Chinese Digest, Nov. 1938.

One of the best sources of historical information about Asian communities in the U.S. can be found in their newspapers. The Chinese Digest, or “CD,” as their all-volunteer staff called it, was published at 868 Washington St. in San Francisco by the China Cultural Society of America. A quick check on Google Maps locates their office at the corner of Old Chinatown Lane (Cameron Alley), the site of the Old Chinatown Trade Center, which was advertised on the  back page of one of the issues. The Digest’s editor was William Hoy, and the founders/publishers were Thomas W. Chinn and Chingwah Lee. This post links to a free download of issues from 1935 to 1939.

H. K. Wong’s columns, “Chinatownia” and “The Chinatownian Roams Around,” featured events and news from Chinatowns in the San Francisco Bay Area, Watsonville, Salinas, and many other Chinese communities in the United States and Alaska. The Digest also documented Chinatowns that were threatened in one way or another. Its articles ran the whole gamut of editorials, political reportage, local news, arts, culture, and humor. One issue features an editorial on how geopolitical events impacted Chinese communities in the Philippines.

Chinatown Digest provides a wonderful look into Chinatowns in the U.S. as the nation moved inevitably toward WWII. These issues are made available by the San Francisco Public Library on

— Jean Vengua

Jean Vengua is editor of and Co-chair of ACE.


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