Sunday, March 6, 2011

Leads for Valuable Baohuanghui Resources in the U.S. from Veteran Baohuanghui Researcher Robert Worden

The only book-length study of the Baohuanghui in the U.S. was written by Robert L. Worden as his Ph.D. dissertation for Georgetown University in 1972.  Never published, “A Chinese Reformer in Exile:  The North American Phase of the Travels of K’ang Yu-wei, 1899-1909” is a constant companion for anyone doing research on the organization’s activities during that period.  It is now downloadable at libraries with subscriptions to ProQuest Dissertations and Theses.

Worden left behind his study of Kang and the Baohuanghui for the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress.  A recent note from him suggests three archival resources that could be mined for American Baohuanghui research.  His ideas are below:

•    “I always felt that more digging into the Chinese immigration files at the National Archives (and now at the regional centers) would produce information on individual members. The files I saw were very rich in demographic information not only about the individual but about his village, his family home, income, parentage, etc. If you have names of specific individuals, you could use indexes to see if they had immigration files. Whether this would reveal more about the Baohuanghui is unknown but if found, the files would reveal more about the member himself.

•    “Also, when I was doing my research on Kang Youwei in the early 1970s, I tried to follow a lead reported in an American newspaper in 1905 on an alleged U.S. Secret Service (or another investigative agency) investigation of Kang and the Baohuanghui. Because there was a 75 year restriction on those records I could not see them. However, the 75th year has now long passed (1980+) and those records, also at the National Archives, might reveal some information.

•    “ProQuest now has hundreds of U.S. historic newspapers searchable online. These could be mined for references to people and organizations. All the big cities are covered. I used lots of newspapers in my dissertation but only when I had specific dates that I derived from archival sources.”

Another source is the Library of Congress  Chronicling America .

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