Straw Hats, Sandals, and Steel: The Chinese in Washington State
by Lorraine Barker Hildebrand was one of several books included in the Ethnic History Series commissioned by the Washington State Historical Society (in cooperation with the Center for Northwest Folklore) in 1977. Bruce Le Roy was the General Editor for the series. Other books in this series included:
– Builders, Brewers and Burghers-Germans of Washington State by Dale R. Wirsing
– The Gypsy in Northwest America by Gabrielle Tyrner-Stastny
– Lairds, Bards and Mariners: The Scot in Northwest America by Bruce Le Roy
– They Walked Before: The Indians of Washington State by Cecelia Svinth Carpenter
– Italians in Washington State: Emigration 1853-1924 by David Nicandri
– Captains, Curates and Cockneys: The English in the Pacific Northwest by Frank L. Green
– The Yugoslav in Washington State by Mary Ann Petrich and Barbara Roje
The author of this history of the Chinese in Washington State is not herself Chinese, and in this, Lorraine Hildebrand is an exception to most of the other authors in the series who share the heritage of the groups about which they wrote. Even so, her credentials are impressive. As a researcher, working under a grant from the U.S. Office of Education in the Ethnic Studies Librarianship program at Fisk University, she compiled a very useful, fully annotated, and illustrated bibliography for a neglected and vexing area of Pacific Northwest history. Sinophobia: The Expulsion of the Chinese from Tacoma and Seattle, Washington Territory, 1885-1886—An Annotated, Illustrated Bibliography, is an important research tool, and will be published this year by the Washington State Historical Society. A native of Tacoma, the author was geographically and emotionally prepared to take on the broader account of the Chinese contribution to Washington State history. In achieving this, despite limitations of time and format, she has created an invaluable pioneer study of the ethnic history of her state.
Certain Chinese folk customs brought to Washington Territory provided brief escape from the miseries of the rough frontier. Maude Butler, pioneer artist from Cathlamet, captured some of the light-hearted gaiety of the Chinese flying kites along the Columbia River. (Her lovely painting is reproduced here.) Certain festive rituals remain today, such as the celebration of Chinese New Year.
–Bruce Le Roy, Former Chairman
Washington State American Revolution Bicentennial Commission Director Emeritus, Washington State