Chinese Americans;Chinese American families;Chinese American children;Chinese American women;Chinatown (New York, N.Y.);Chinatown (Oakland, Calif.);San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.);Guangdong Sheng (China);Christianity;Immigration & society;Education;Italian Americans;Americanization
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1990.015.005 Oral History Interview with Dr. Paul Chu

This interview with Dr. Paul Chu (b. 1925) was conducted by an NYU graduate student who was working with the Chinatown History Project (now MOCA) to collect stories for a workshop on earlier generations of Italian American and Chinese American students at PS 23 (Public School 23). Paul, a dentist and longtime resident of Chinatown, grew up in Oakland’s Chinatown and moved to New York in the 1930s with his parents at the age of 8 or 9. His grandfather, a merchant in San Francisco, was the first to immigrate from the Guangdong area at around the turn of the century, followed by his grandmother. In the oral history, Paul shares his family’s immigration history as well as memories of growing up in Oakland, including living in a house with his extended family and the Chinese customs that his family followed. Asked to compare differences he perceived between Chinatown in New York and on the west coast, he notes that Chinese in New York were less Americanized and defines being Americanized as not only the outward appearance of looking American but also as the inner way that one thinks and feels and one’s tastes. Growing up in New York’s Chinatown, Paul recalls playing on Mott Street with friends, the neighborhood’s different Chinese and non-Chinese businesses, going to Baptist Church service on Pell Street with his mother, and attending Chinese school and PS 23. He also discusses applying for the mostly Jewish Seward Park High School and notes that all of his Chinese friends went on to high school, unlike his Italian classmates. Towards the end of the interview, Paul speaks about his two children and offers his thoughts on the changes in Chinatown today (1990).