I’ve made an executive decision on the next Soo-hoo child and decided to treat Clara as the oldest daughter. This is because Clara’s younger sister does so in her memoirs, calling her “1st daughter” (Sung, 291, cited in Chinese Historical Society). However, Western records suggest her sister Paulina may have been older than her, and there are even references to her sister Nettie being born only three months after her. The explanation for this discrepancy is most likely incomplete records – Paulina’s birth year has been guessed at from her school records – as well as variations in translation from Asian systems of measuring age to Western ones. Since I don’t know the original Asian-system birth dates for anyone, I’ll take a family memoir as being the truth on birth order: first Clara, then Paulina, then Nettie, and so will post about Clara first, followed by Nettie (Paulina I will save for later).
Tag: New York
Holy lag between updates, Batman. The spring semester picked up and I haven’t touched my research in weeks. Fortunately, Spring Break is almost upon us, so I have a few posts swimming around in my head that I hope to soon be able to share with you, my loyal readers (and those who have stumbled upon me via Google Search. Hi there!).
Today I will be posting about Edith Bien, the final child of Z. S. Bien who studied in the United States. Her full name was Edith Chu-Nian Bien (卞菊年, pinyin Biàn Júnián) and she was the youngest child of Z. S. Bien and Guojin Li, being born in 1915. She was born after her parents returned from studying in America and was 5 years younger than her next oldest sibling, Edward. According to Chinese sources she, like her brother Edward, attended Yenching University in Peking (Beijing) (from this blog post about the Bien family, original text: 卞寿孙女儿卞菊年（1915—1959）肄业北平燕京大学).
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.
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.