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Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Marvel H. Chong
Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Marvel Hum Chong was born in Minneapolis in 1910. She is the youngest daughter of Bing Hum, an immigrant from China who arrived in Minneapolis before the turn of the century. He was a native of the Taishan District of Guangdong Province in South China, and before he came to Minnesota he worked on a railroad in Montana. He married an Irish Canadian, Sarah Cassidy, and they settled in Willmar, Minnesota, a railroad transfer center west of Minneapolis. Hum opened a laundry in Willmar and later purchased the Glarum Hotel, which he operated for many years before moving his family to Minneapolis in 1908. In Minneapolis Hum opened another laundry and three different restaurants in succession. Marvel Hum Chong attended Marcy and Wittier schools in Minneapolis during her elementary years and West High School in her first year of high school. She then moved to Hibbing, Minnesota, to live with her older sister and brother-in-law and graduated from Hibbing High School in 1927. She attended the University of Minnesota from 1927 to 1931, and following graduation she worked as a hostess at John's Place Uptown and the Chinese Gift Shop, both Chinese-owned businesses in Minneapolis. In 1941 she married the owner of the Gift Shop, Stanley Chong, a Chinese immigrant's son from the West Coast. The shop was sold when Chong was drafted into the army for a brief period during World War II, and after his discharge the couple lived on the West Coast for a few years. In 1944 they moved back to Minneapolis and established the International House of Foods, a highly successful wholesale and retail business in Asian foods. Their daughter, Siu-linn, was born in 1946. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Marvel Hum Chong discusses her father's background in China and the United States; his varied interests in such fields as Christianity, Western law, and languages; his role as interpreter for Chinese in court in the Twin Cities; his part in the organizing of the Chinese Students Club, which included students from China at the University of Minnesota and the children of Chinese immigrants of high school and college age. She also discusses Chinese activities in the 1970 Aquatennial in Minneapolis; Chinese community organizations; and discrimination in housing for Chinese immigrants. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: This interview is particularly interesting because Marvel Hum Chong grew up in one of a half dozen intermarried families in the Chinese community in the Twin Cities during the pre-World War II days. She provides considerable insight into their experience as an interracial family.
Quantity 1.5 hours sound cassette
64 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 01:29:43 running time
Creation Narrator: Chong, Mrs. Marvel Hum
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asians
Chinese
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 06/08/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
ID Number OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.3
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'