Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Robert Yu
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Robert Yu was born in about 1915 in the city of Fuzhou, Fujian Province, China. During his childhood his father was postmaster general of China. As the eldest son, Yu enjoyed a favorable position in the family, and his father set aside a considerable sum of money to enable him to study in the United States after graduation from college. While studying at the University of Nanjing, Yu met his future wife, Victoria (Yu), and after their marriage Yu's father agreed to send them both to the United States. Robert and Victoria Yu arrived in the United States in about 1939. Although Robert Yu had intended to attend graduate school after his arrival, he had not made arrangements with any specific university. In Seattle, where they disembarked, they met a Chinese graduate of the University of Wisconsin who suggested that Yu attend the University of Minnesota and offered to accompany them to Minneapolis. After their arrival Yu applied to the University of Minnesota and was accepted as a graduate student in the College of Business Administration, and he later transferred to the College of Agriculture, where he majored in agricultural economics. While Yu was a student at the university, two sons, Robert and Victor, were born to the family. Yu completed his master of arts degree in 1941, but because of the Sino-Japanese War he could not return to China immediately. He took a job for a short time at the Pillsbury Company in Minneapolis and then took a job in Washington, D.C., where a third child, Joyce (the interviewer for this oral history interview, and who was interviewed for the project as well), was born. In Washington Yu worked as a Chinese-area specialist at the Department of Agriculture. During World War II the United States planned (but never carried out) a landing on the Chinese coast, and Yu provided information on Chinese agriculture in the proposed landing area. In 1947, with the war over, the Yu family returned to China, where Yu took a job as vice-president of the Farmers' Bank of China in Shanghai. As rampant inflation and civil conflict made living in postwar China increasingly difficult, the family returned to the United States in 1949 and settled in southeast Minneapolis, the area where they had lived during Yu's time at the university. Yu again took a job with the Pillsbury Company for a short time, but next he became a vice-president of First National Bank of Minneapolis. In 1979 Yu retired from that job and accepted a teaching position in Taiwan. While Victoria Yu also decided to live in Taiwan, where many relatives live, all three Yu children have remained in the United States. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Yu discusses his family background in China; his first trip to the United States, and his fears that he and his wife would be turned away by immigration officials; first impressions in Seattle; Chinese student life at the University of Minnesota's Minneapolis and St. Paul campuses during World War II, when the students were cut off from family resources; political views in the Chinese community in Minnesota; views toward normalization of U.S.-China diplomatic relations in 1979; discrimination toward Chinese people; and problems of child rearing in the immigrant community. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Yu reflects the views of the intellectuals from northern China (Mandarin speakers), most of whom came either as students to the University of Minnesota or as political refugees settling in Minnesota after World War II. He is particularly perceptive about divisions within the Chinese community and about changing views of Chinese settlers over the years.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
21 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:29:19 running time
Creation Interviewee: Yu, Robert
Interviewer: Yu, Joyce
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asian Americans -- Minnesota
Chinese Americans -- Minnesota.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 02/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.35
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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