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Inheritance and Innovation: An International Symposium on Migration, Ethnicity and the History of U.S. Civilization

July 23, 2019 - July 25, 2019

The year 2019 marks the fortieth anniversary for the founding of the American History Research Association of China (AHRAC). To make this special occasion, we would like to invite scholars from China, the U.S. and other countries to join us in panel discussions on “Migration, Ethnicity and the History of U.S. Civilization.” Migration includes immigration and migration within the U.S. as both have left their marks in American history on the processes of industrialization, urbanization, language, culture, religion, political system, and ultimately the evolution of American civilization.

My presentation:

A Chinese-American Family in Turn-of-the-Century New England: The Story of the Jeromes of New Haven, Connecticut

Between the years 1872-1881, the State of Connecticut—one of the original New England colonies and known for its Puritan heritage—welcomed a generation of young Chinese men to live and study in urban areas such as Hartford, with many attending college at Yale University. The path was paved by Yung Wing, who was the first Chinese student to immigrate to Connecticut, and the first to graduate from Yale in 1854. Yung created the Chinese Educational Mission, which shaped the lives of many young Chinese men, and the country they returned home to, once the program ceased operations and they were called back to bring their knowledge and skills to government service.

Yung Wing married an American and had two children while living in Hartford, but, he was not the only one. In New Haven, another Chinese American couple married and had two children: this was Yuan Phou Lee from Canton and Elizabeth Maude Jerome, a woman from an old patrician New England family. Their children, Gilbert Nelson Jerome and Jennie Gilbert Jerome (seen in the image above, wearing Chinese clothing at school in New England) would end up knowing very little about their Chinese father, as Yuan and Elizabeth divorced, and he returned to China. This paper is about the Jerome family in New Haven, Connecticut and is examination of a particular place, the lives of the people who lived there, and asks why this unique early experience of immigration and mixed ethnicity has been forgotten. It is a quiet story about a family who suffered tragedy and loss, but with fortitude soldiered on—Gilbert was killed in World War I while Jennie became the first art librarian for the City of New Haven and remained in this position for the rest of her life, dying in 1979.


July 23, 2019
July 25, 2019


Northeast Normal University
Changchun, Jilin 130024 China