Insights into Early Chinese American Community Development in Massachusetts through the U.S. Census

Michael Liu, University of Massachusetts Boston
Shauna Lo, University of Massachusetts Boston


This report reviews the federal censuses of Massachusetts in the latter 19th century to see what they can tell us about the early development of the Chinese American community in the state. We examined the original handwritten records of the 1870, 1880 and 1900 censuses. Unfortunately, fire destroyed the records of the 1890 census. We also referred to contemporary newspapers, summaries of the state censuses, and other sources when they could shed light on the findings of our examination of the federal censuses. Please see our methodology section for a more detailed explanation of the benefits, challenges and limitations of this research method.