The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

by Heather B. Moore

The Occidental Mission Home in San Francisco was a refuge for Chinese women who escaped a life of slavery and sex trafficking. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many young Chinese women were given false identification papers and a new life story to match in order to come into the U.S. illegally. They were tricked with the promise of an arranged marriage to a wealthy man but instead were often sold to the highest bidder and forced into prostitution.

Donaldina (Dolly) Cameron intended to spend one year at the Occidental Mission Home teaching sewing. She quickly became a favorite of the young women and soon participated in dangerous rescues due to the criminal Tong (the Chinese secret society). Eventually Dolly became the director of the home and stayed for almost 40 years.

A nonfiction book to consider reading is The White Devil’s Daughters: The Woman who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown by Julia Flynn Siler.




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