Courage in the Golden Valley

"Courage in the Golden Valley: Southern Oregon Chinese History", based on SOHS's 2016 annual exhibit. (click title to view photos)

Encompassing objects, photographs, and research from both Jackson and Josephine County, this exhibition retold the story of the Chinese experience through their own objects and voices as much as possible.

The exhibit drew on new research, including local archaeology, to retell the story of a much misunderstood group of people. Historians Bennet Bronson and Chuimei Ho note: “...we find ourselves tiring of victim narratives and think that Chinese-American historiography is not greatly in need of more.” 

“It’s not enough to only look at the history of the Chinese community,” says Debra Lee, President of the Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association. “This SOHS exhibit, Courage in the Golden Valley, helps us appreciate the bounty that the Valley now enjoys because of Chinese labor. They planted fields and built the railroads we use today and developed new efficiencies to reclaim gold from waste tailings.”

The Chinese were among the first settlers to arrive in Southern Oregon, which is the location of the first Chinese community in the Pacific Northwest. Initially drawn by the 1850s gold rush, the work of the Chinese often left a visible impact on the landscape. They could make enough money working in the U.S. to cover all their own expenses and still send $10 a month back to their families in China. In addition to mining they also worked on the railroad, in laundries, as domestic servants, and owned businesses. Their daily lives shaped the region as it grew into the unique and complex community we participate in today.

EXHIBIT SPONSORS WERE: - Southern Oregon University Laboratory of Anthropology (SOULA) - Southern Oregon Chinese Cultural Association (SOCCA) - St. Mary's School - SOHS Foundation - SOHS Gold Diggers Guild - The Brydens - Jacksonville Review - Southern Oregon Credit Services - Jacobson, Thierolf, and Dickey, P.C. - Mary Kay