Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Harold Kee
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Harold Kee was born April 6, 1899, in a rural village in the Taishan District of Guangdong Province, China. He arrived in St. Paul in 1911 to join his father, a partner in Quong, Gin, Lung & Co., importers of Chinese silks, porcelains, and other goods. The business closed soon after Kee's arrival, and he and his father moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where the elder Kee operated a Chinese restaurant with a friend. In Omaha Kee attended public school, and after their return to Minnesota the next year he enrolled in the Lyndale Grade School in Minneapolis. He graduated from Central High School in that city in 1918 and attended the University of Minnesota. In 1915 his father returned to China to stay, and Kee became a partner in the New Canton and New China restaurants in St. Paul. He also served as interpreter for the U.S. Immigration Service from the 1920s to the 1960s. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Kee discusses the early Chinese community in St. Paul; the common practice in the largely male settlement of bringing young sons to Minnesota at the age of 11 or 12 to help with the family business; Kee's own experience as a boy arriving in St. Paul at age 12; his education and business enterprises; and his work as translator for the U.S. Immigration Service. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: Because of Kee's early arrival in the state and residence in both Minneapolis and St. Paul, he is an excellent source of information on the early period of Chinese settlement in Minnesota. As an employee of the Immigration Service, he knew immigration law better than others in the early settlement, and he has been described as one who "took care of the first generation" by helping them with problems concerning their own papers or those of relatives they wanted to bring to Minnesota. It should be noted, however, that although Kee states in the interview that he knew of no Chinese community organizations in the early 1920s, other sources have indicated that two secret societies, or tongs, the On Leung and Hip Sing, were introduced in Minnesota between 1912 and 1915.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
28 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:45:18 running time
Creation Interviewee: Kee, Harold
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asian Americans -- Minnesota
Chinese Americans -- Minnesota.
Made in Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 02/08/1980
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.5
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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