Chinese History Project

of the Washington Township Museum of Local History


Image of Alvarado Chinatown, on postcard dated July 15, 1922, from archives of the Washington Township Museum of Local History

A Project with the Washington Township Museum of Local History

Since before 1797, the year that Mission San José was established, our area has attracted immigrants from all over the world. Records of Chinese immigrants show up in our local archives at least as early as the 1860s. Stories of the early Chinese immigrants are held in many museums, in archives, and in the personal collections of local families.

Our Goals

  • To bring these stories alive – of immigration, struggle, and success
  • To tell these little-known stories to visitors and students
  • To create partnerships with families, museums, parks, schools, universities, and other agencies

Our First Project, January 2019, Fremont Main Library exhibit "Chinese Roots: Sketches of life in the Washington Township"

  • An exhibit of images, records, oral histories of the early Chinese immigrants and pioneering families
  • Photos and records from the archives of the California Nursery Company in Niles, the Shinn Ranch in Niles.
  • Materials from museums in Newark and Fremont that represent the towns of the Washington Township: Niles, Centerville, Mission San Jose, Warm Springs, Irvington, Newark, Union City, Decoto, and Alvarado.
  • Memoirs from the early families tell us what it was like to grow up along Alameda Creek in the years from 1920 to 1940.
  • Talks on archeology, genealogy, and history

We hope families will share their histories with us to round out what life was like in the area. We hope that others will be inspired to find ways to share this information with the community.