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Cranston Public Library Hosts Herstory 2: The Legal History of Chinese American Women

Cranston, RI – from June 1 - 30, 2024, the Cranston Public Library will showcase an exhibit with a rare and unusual look at the history of Chinese women in the U.S. The exhibit will be displayed in the James T. Giles Community Room at the Central Library, 140 Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston, RI.

Starting in 1848, many Chinese women immigrated to America to pursue a better life, gain personal freedom and further their education. For 165 years, they endured exclusion laws and discrimination. They struggled in the American legal system, fighting for the right to immigrate, live with dignity, receive a public-school education and marry freely.

Curated by Dr. Chang C. Chen, Herstory 2: The Legal History of Chinese American Women (1912-2020) highlights the ordinary women who fought for their rights, and in doing so, helped shape a new world for Chinese American women in the rest of the country.

About Dr. Chang C. Chen and the Herstory Project

Dr. Chen grew up in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States 50 years ago to pursue her graduate studies. After obtaining her Ph. D in biochemistry from Rutgers University and J.D. from Columbia University Law School, she launched an illustrious legal career spanning 25 years. She was elected to be a Taiwan Senator and hosted four television shows. During the 1990s, her most popular program Chang C. Chen Talking Law on Star-TV in Hong Kong elevated her to celebrity status—still rare for a female attorney in Taiwan. Today, Dr. Chen continues to practice law in California and serves as a legal consultant in China and Taiwan. 

While Dr. Chen has authored more than 80 books in Chinese, covering topics ranging from law to marriage, Herstory: The Legal History of Chinese American Women (1852-2012) was her first book in English. Three years in the making, the book is the culmination of her extensive research for her Herstory exhibition and its 2021 sequel exhibition and book Herstory 2, which covers the periods of 1912-2020.

Dr. Chen credits a dedicated team of volunteers and designers from the Chinese American community for helping her bring this project to life. Key contributors include Mingguo Li, Yimei Chen, Shih-fang Chen, Doris Tseng, Lotus Fong, Florence Fang, Shan Shan Zhou, and Yuanying Huang, among others. 

What began as a small personal project has grown into an international sensation. Libraries and museums around the globe, including those in Taiwan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hawaii, New York, Chicago, and other major cities, have showcased this exhibition. When Dr. Chen embarked on this project, a search in the Library of Congress index for “Chinese American Women” yielded few results. Now, thanks to her dedication, there are over 1.8 million entries. Dr. Chen is humbled by the impact of her work, which has ensured that Chinese American women have secured their rightful place in history.


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