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Counting AmericansHow the US Census Classified the Nation$
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Paul Schor

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199917853

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199917853.001.0001

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The Chinese and Japanese in the Census

The Chinese and Japanese in the Census

Nationalities That Are Also Races

(p.127) 12 The Chinese and Japanese in the Census
Counting Americans

Paul Schor

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the integration of Chinese and Japanese into the US census. The American census added a new race it termed “Chinese” to its questionnaires beginning in 1870 and “Japanese” in 1890. The remarkable thing is that what was a nationality immediately became a race as well. Since 1850, the place of birth of all inhabitants had been recorded, whether or not they were immigrants, and in the case of non-European immigrants, two categories of origin were involved: on the one hand, foreign birth, and on the other hand, race, which was transmitted to the following generations. In spite of their small numbers, Asian immigrants were the object of disproportionate attention in the US census, to the point that in 1920, out of nine possible racial categories, five were Asian.

Keywords:   Chinese, Japanese, race, nationality, immigrants, racial categories, Asians, US census

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