It’s flu season again, and it seems to be a pretty harsh one from what my friends on social media and local news stories indicate. Just the other day I read a story about a healthy 22-year old who got the flu and died. The indication so far is that his death was a fluke – normally only the very young, old, and immunocompromised are at risk of dying from flu – but it still put me in mind of the 1918 “Spanish flu” pandemic that had such a high mortality rate among young people. The 1918 flu was a worldwide pandemic that caused an overreaction of the immune systems of those who were infected, leading to respiratory complications like pneumonia which ended up being fatal. And since the students I have been researching were all young adults during this pandemic, I’ve encountered several Boxer Indemnity Scholars who were affected and even died from the flu or pneumonia during the time of the outbreak.
Tag: 1918 Directory
While most of Nam Art Soo-Hoo‘s 11 children were wildly successful and prosperous in their adult lives, there were a few exceptions. I’ve posted about Andrew Soo-Hoo, the son who accidentally killed his father during an argument/fight, and never seemed to recover from that horror. But two others of the Soo-hoo family never realized their full adult potential: second-oldest daughter Pauline Soo-Hoo and third-oldest son Lincoln Soo-Hoo, because they both died before their respective 30th birthdays.
The scope of this project is so enormous that sometimes I can only proceed in what feels like a very small spiraling motion outward. There are so many students and so many primary source documents, as well as the entire weight of Chinese and US History, that I sometimes feel like I am looking into an immense and densely populated forest, with no idea where the best point of entry is. Often it is just easier to pick a place to start, and then research the other people and places that relate to that starting point, until I am finally deep in the research. So: my previous student post was on E. J. Chu, and this post will be on the fellow student he boarded with in Albany: W. K. Lam.
In my last post, I mentioned a few primary sources that I want to discuss in a little more detail, to give you an idea of how I track the movements of these Chinese students in America. The foremost primary source that I use for addresses and locations is the Chinese Students’ Alliance’s set of Chinese student directories. These seven directories, especially the ones that include the students’ Chinese names in characters, have proven to be the best way to keep up with the Boxer Indemnity Scholars. It’s hard to get a hold of these directories, and a couple of issues have disappeared into history. Schools that hosted a large number of Indemnity Scholars are always a good source for these directories; the University of Michigan seems to have a fairly full set, as do the University of Illinois and Columbia University in New York.
徐振 (pinyin Xú Zhèn) was born on 27 February 1891 in Macau, although his parents, Wing Pao and Soo Pan, were originally from Guangdong Province. At that time in Chinese history, many port cities were under significant or even total foreign control. The Chinese treaty port system ceded control of specific zones in coastal cities to foreign powers – as in the American/British and French concessions of Shanghai – or in the cases of Hong Kong and Macau, complete colonial administration. These areas functioned somewhere on the spectrum from Vatican City to the former Panama Canal Zone in their laws and regulations on movement to and from the area. Since Macau was under Portuguese colonial administration, 徐振 was born a Portuguese citizen, although he was ethnically Chinese.