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Institutionalizing Charity: Hong Kong and the Homebound Burial of Chinese Americans, 1900-1949.

While philanthropy still remains an open area in diaspora studies, even more so does the field of funeral and burial charity, especially when migration of the dead is involved. This paper is a study of Chinese migration from the very peculiar perspective of the history of death and diasporic charity. If the last chapter on "Returning Bones" in Elizabeth Sinn's path-breaking book, Pacific Crossing: California Gold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong, (1) has its focus on the situation in the early years of the mass migration spurred by the gold rush, my present work, with the return of bones of Chinese Americans as a case in point, is on the condition in the subsequent half century when Chinese diasporic charity in terms of hometown burial became gradually institutionalized. While the Tung Wah Hospital in Hong Kong played a key role in the process of institutionalization, its Tung Wah Coffin Home (hereafter TWCH) established in 1900 figured as an institution for the repatriation of an estimated hundred thousand coffins and bones of Chinese from all over the world, (2) including the United States, back to China--especially to the region of Guangdong, the origin of most Chinese migrants to the new world from gold rush times until the establishment of the Peoples Republic of China when the embargo problem affected the communication between China and the outside world.


In fact, even before the founding of the TWCH, coffins and bones were being repatriated from overseas through Hong Kong. Indeed, Hong Kong was the pivot for both emigration from China and the return of Overseas Chinese, living or dead, to their native places from the late nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. As a free port opened in 1841 by Britain, its colonizer, Hong Kong functioned to facilitate trade, communication, traffic, and transport of goods, money, and populations. It was only natural then for the colony to become a place through which the Chinese migrated to North America beginning with the gold rush days. (3) Soon Hong Kong also served as a labor-recruiting station for agencies of American and Canadian companies looking for Chinese mine and railroad workers. (4) It was not long, however, after the first generation of Chinese emigrants to California had made their trips from Hong Kong that the remains of some of the unfortunate ones also returned through the colony. The earliest existing record about the shipment of dead Chinese to I long Kong from the United States was 1855, some seven or eight years after the discovery of gold in California. It was Hong Kong's China Mail reporting what had been recorded in the Alta California newspaper on May 16, 1855, about a vessel called the S. S. (5) heading for Hong Kong from the United States with a cargo of 200 bags of potatoes and "94 boxes of dead Chinamen." (6) Nothing is known regarding the causes of death of these Chinese. Nor can we verify whether they were among the first generation of Chinese emigrants to California during the gold rush times. It can be documented, though, that the repatriation of Chinese migrants' remains to their hometowns through Hong Kong took place as early as the 1850s, well before the establishment of the TWCH in 1900.

Elizabeth Sinn holds that the aforementioned shipment in 1855 would have most likely been organized by a Chinese charity association, as it was quoted by William Speer, a missionary active in the San Francisco Chinese community in the gold rush days, that the association, according to its report, had completed in June 1855 the preparatory work for the repatriation of the remains of the dead, and a vessel conveying the coffins sailed to their native villages. (7) Sinn's inference seems reasonable as under the custom of "second burial" in South China, exhumation of bones for reinterment usually took place five to seven years after the bodies were buried. (8) The 1855 shipment may have been the first batch of returned bones since the arrival of the first group of Chinese to Gold Mountain.

Driven by the needs of economic survival in areas threatened by natural disasters, foreign invasion, and wars in South China during the mid-nineteenth century, flocks of emigrants left home for Gold Mountain in California and became part of the scene of a modern upsurge of Chinese emigration. What the 1855 preparatory work for bone repatriation did actually set a general pattern of the jianyun [phrase omitted] practice, that is, exhuming bones of deceased Chinese migrants for repatriation to their hometowns for reinterment there. (9) Imaginably the jianyun arrangements were extremely arduous and expensive and therefore necessitated specialized assistance by charity associations. These jianyun societies, which were especially founded in the host countries of Chinese migrants to grant to fellow migrants their ultimate wish of a final rest in their native places, did strike Liang Qichao [phrase omitted] as unthinkable when he visited North America at the beginning of the twentieth century. In his famous travelogue Xindalu youji (Travelogue of the New World), he listed the names of societies of nine counties as follows: Fuyitang [phrase omitted] (Nanhai [phrase omitted]), Changhoutang [phrase omitted] (Panyu [phrase omitted]), Xingantang [phrase omitted] (Shunde [phrase omitted]), Baoantang [phrase omitted] (Dongguan [phrase omitted]), Fushantang [phrase omitted] (Xiangshan [phrase omitted]), Tongdetang [phrase omitted] (Xinhui [phrase omitted]), Yuqingtang [phrase omitted] (Xin ning [phrase omitted]), Renantang [phrase omitted] (Zengcheng [phrase omitted]), Tongfu tang [phrase omitted] (Enkai [phrase omitted]). (10)

While all these jianyun societies specialized in repatriation work, they also branched out from their mother regional organizations, generally called huiguan [phrase omitted], under the names of their counties. The fact that almost each and every one of these huiguan in San Francisco had a special branch designated to handle the jianyun task obviously amazed Liang as something new at that time. Although it would not be too hard to understand why Chinese emigrants had longed to return home to die or to be buried, in terms of natural human feelings and the strong Chinese belief in luoye guigen" [phrase omitted] (fallen leaves return to their roots), the repatriation of a large number of human remains to China over such a long distance was a rather new phenomenon. Before large-scale jianyun became a tradition, or "modern tradition" since modern times, especially among Overseas Chinese, only the rich and the powerful, such as merchants and officials, could afford the transport of their coffins back home for burial. (11) As a custom practiced mainly by a few who found it affordable, coffin/bone repatriation has seldom been a common topic in works on the history of the Chinese diaspora.

It took a charitable enterprise to include poor Chinese sojourners as well in this effort for final burial in native towns of the dead. Traditional Chinese charities covered the provision of coffins and funeral/burial services, but charitable activities aiding the return of coffins and bones to native places of the deceased seemed to be too innovative an institution to be cited in early writings on Chinese philanthropy. And it was probably popular mainly among the Chinese overseas since the modern upsurge of emigration.

Huiguan organizations became the key to the ingenious support system sustaining what Marlon Horn calls "an equitable luo ye gui ken program," which covered both the rich and poor in the jianyun project. (12) Very soon after the first Chinese arrived to the West Coast of the United States at the outset of the gold rush, Chinese benevolent organizations were formed one after the other. In 1851, three years after the discovery of gold in California, the Sanyi huiguan [phrase omitted] [phrase omitted] (regional association for natives from the three districts-Nanhai, Panyu, and Shunde) and the Siyi huiguan [phrase omitted] (regional association for natives from the four districts--Xinhui, Taishan [phrase omitted], Kaiping [phrase omitted], and Enping [phrase omitted]) were founded in San Francisco. Xinhui townsfolk from the Siyi huiguan then joined natives from Heshan [phrase omitted] and Sihui [phrase omitted] to set up the Gangzhou huiguan [phrase omitted] in the 1860s. All these organizations joined together in the 1870s to form the Zhonghua huiguan [phrase omitted], later called Zhonghua zong huiguan [phrase omitted] (Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, or CCBA, also known as the Six Companies by Westerners). (13) Generally at the beginning of the establishment of a huiguan, its members would lay down a set of rules concerning the arrangement for the return of deceased fellow migrants' remains to their hometowns in China for reinterment.

As mutual aid and charitable associations, these regional organizations manifested in the jianyun operation the principles of fraternity and charity. For instance, it was stipulated by the Yanghe Association ([phrase omitted]) set up in San Francisco in 1853 that "for the injured or sick who cannot labor and the kinless poor, their travel expenses for home return will be provided by the company (i.e., the huiguan).... For those who died in poverty, the company is responsible for their coffins." (14) Other benevolent organizations' arrangements of bone repatriation since the 1850s were similar to the Yanghe huiguan's charitable practice.

Generally an ingenious system of support by way of both mutual help and charity was designed and followed by almost all Chinese communities in the United States. Greatly impressed by these institutions, Huang Zunxian [phrase omitted], the Chinese consul general of San Francisco from 1882 to 1885, reported to his superior Zheng Zaoru [phrase omitted], Chinese ambassador to the United States then, on the effective function of this structure of community support in enabling every Chinese in the United States to go home, including the living migrants and the less fortunate ones who died during their sojourns overseas. (15) On the latter, the memorandum detailed the following:
   There are also remains of those kinless folks who died from
   illness. The huiguan arranged for the transport of their bones after
   exhuming and then the re-interment at hometowns. [This task was
   sometimes taken up not by the huiguan but charity associations of
   the counties concerned.] Expenses for this purpose were prepared
   through a system whereby members had to pay the huiguan several or
   several tens of dollars upon their return to China [depending on
   the regulations of different huiguan, previously this fee was
   mostly between $10 and $20].... The huiguan then sought shipping
   companies' agreement of cooperation in making this payment system
   work. It was agreed between the two sides that the huiguan would
   not issue the chugangzhi [phrase omitted] (exit paper) to those who
   did not pay the fee and accordingly the shipping company would not
   sell them steamer tickets. In effect, therefore, no one evaded the
   payment before returning to China. After being continued for a long
   period, the practice has been taken for granted as a custom. (16)

The operation of the system was even known beyond Chinatowns. By the 1870s Westerners already testified that the Chinese "Six Companies" levied their own members "bone money," on top of "company fee." (17) While many Westerners considered these monies compulsory levies, Huang Zunxian emphasized the charitable nature of the system and its general honesty. (18)

What was also reported by Huang was the decline of the mining industry in the 1880s. As a result, Chinese workers paid less to buy their exit papers. (19) By the 1890s the exit fee paid by a returnee to China was $9, $3 of which went to the Zhonghua huiguan, $3 to the payer's own native-place association, and the remaining $3 set aside for the purpose of jianyun. Returnees would first purchase the exit papers from their own huiguan before getting on board. An English interpreter from the huiguan would pick up the exit papers at the dock and assist the Chinese on board. (20)

Depending on the economic condition of the time, the exit fee might go up or down. The requirement for everybody to pay characterized this system of mutual help. As demonstrated by documents of the jianyun society of Panyu County (the Changhoutang), rich merchants were expected to pay more so as to make allowance for those who could only afford less. In the end the rich merchants' donations were used to top up the fund in supporting the extremely expensive jianyun activities. In this regard the charity nature of the system is obvious. (21) The case of the Changhoutang indicates not only the crucial role of merchants in the jianyun society but also the importance of their business connections and associated companies in Hong Kong in networking San Francisco and Panyu, their hometowns in China. Established in 1858, the Changhoutang had its first jianyun in 1862 when members of the society went through rugged mountain paths under the scorching summer sun to reach burial sites just to discover that the areas were flooded, graves inundated, and tombstones washed away. Some remains were even lost. Yet with the assistance of the society's agency in Hong Kong, the Jishantang [phrase omitted] this first jianyun mission was well accomplished. (22) The second jianyun took place in 1874 when the work team reached as far as Victoria, British Columbia. (23)

According to Elizabeth Sinn's solid study of the Changhoutang, the society in San Francisco sent out its first shipment of human remains in the year when its associate organization, the Jishantang, was established to receive the shipment and transship it to Panyu. While the first shipment contained 258 boxes of remains and 59 "spirit boxes" ([phrase omitted]) (i.e., boxes to hold the spirits summoned for those whose remains could not be found), the second shipment, which was sent in 1874, included 850 coffins and 24 spirit boxes, and the third shipment, transported in 1884, contained 625 coffins and 3 spirit boxes. (24) These jianyun efforts, while partly subsidized by the $10 membership fee levied to support mutual aid and charity funds and paid by each member, who was also a potential benefactor, were to a large extent sponsored by wealthy merchants' donations, as mentioned above. These elite members also expanded their economic power through investment business in Hong Kong. By strategies like this, they set a model of the development of native-place-based charity, and business as well, among Chinese communities across national borders. We can never overemphasize the role of townsfolk's associations in Hong Kong, a pivotal "in-between place," using a term coined by Elizabeth Sinn, for trade and transportation. Its proximity to mainland China, moreover, facilitated the recruitment of specialists in traditional Chinese death rituals that were crucial in the process of receiving coffins/bones from overseas. (25)

Besides, the Jishantang also bought land in Panyu to build a charitable burial place named "charitable cemetery for fellow Panyu townsfolk returned from Gold Mountain" to accommodate unclaimed bones repatriated from overseas. Yet up to now the most distinct existing monument of charitable burial grounds for returned Chinese remains from Gold Mountain is the 1893 Gold Mountain Charitable Cemetery in Xinhui. Having been studied in detail by Marlon Horn, who also participated in the 1993 project to relocate the cemetery, the original burial site was set aside in 1893 as the final home for the 387 unclaimed Chinese remains returned from San Francisco between 1888 and 1892, according to the inscription on the granite marker erected on the original site. (26) The cemetery has become a rare remaining piece of historical evidence of the result of charitable service provided by early Chinese communities across transnational borders between Gold Mountain and the motherland.

Following a similar pattern of charity, the Guangfutang [phrase omitted] founded by Kaiping and Enping natives in 1882 also instituted a charitable cemetery in Baihexu [phrase omitted], the famous marketplace in Kaiping, "to aid the return of deceased fellow townsfolk from the 'Gold Mountain,' so that they would not become lone spirits with no one to turn to." They then published a set of regulations in 1903, the year when the director and associate director of the Guangfutang were elected. (27) In their account book, an 1882 writing included the following remarks:
   Therefore fellow townsfolk of Kaiping and Enping established in San
   Francisco a society called the Guangfutang and soon started
   soliciting money from personages in the industrial and commercial
   circles one by one in the district. The fund is specifically used
   for the collection of remains of deceased fellow townsfolk for
   repatriation to Hong Kong for temporary storage at the Tung Wah
   Hospital's charitable coffin repository. Then burial subsidies will
   be offered to relatives of the dead who were summoned to reclaim
   the remains.... Hence Hong Kong's industrialists and merchants
   made suggestions again to build charitable burial grounds and
   coffin repositories at the juncture of the two counties. Should
   more deceased fellow townsfolk be repatriated, they will be shipped
   home by hired boats, lists of names of the deceased and their
   native villages will be posted all over in thoroughfares at all
   ports so that those who come to reclaim the remains know the place.
   Even the unclaimed can rest in peace at their native towns. (28)

In the above-quoted statement, once again, the linkage between San Francisco and Hong Kong and its importance to Chinese charity associations, the role of merchants in Hong Kong, and the repatriation of bones from San Francisco to South China are stressed. Particularly noteworthy is the clear indication in this 1882 writing that Hong Kong's Tung Wah Hospital already had a charitable coffin repository for temporary storage of repatriated remains. It can be inferred that before the TWCH was built in 1900, the hospital had already provided some kind of coffin home service, though it is not clear whether the coffin repository was the Slaughterhouse Coffin Home ([phrase omitted]), which was generally believed to be the predecessor of the TWCH.

It is possible that, according to the documents of charity associations such as the Changhoutang and Guangfutang, their Hong Kong agencies may have once had temporary repositories for remains returned from overseas, especially during the early years of the gold rush era. In consideration of the large number of remains shipped back later, (29) a larger space should have been urgently needed. The Tung Wah Hospital's coffin home service was thus necessitated, even well before the construction of the TWCH itself at Sandy Bay in 1900. As shown by documentary evidence, the Tung Wah Hospital may have started its coffin home service as early as the 1870s. The earliest written record is a report in the Universal Circulating Herald ([phrase omitted]) dated April 8, 1874, recounting the following news:
   A ship named Japan, being an oceanic liner of an American ship
   company, has arrived in Hong Kong carrying from Kobe, Japan, some
   30 coffins which contain bodies of Cantonese sojourners who died in
   Japan. They are deposited at the Tung Wah Hospital now till days
   later when they will be transported home by hired hands, after the
   birthplaces and addresses concerned are to be clearly marked. As a
   norm, subsidies as coffin fees will be provided ranging from 15
   yuan for areas close-by and 20 yuan for places far-away. A truly
   benevolent deed indeed! (30)

Though we do not know the scale of the Tung Wah Hospital's coffin home service then, it is certain that the tradition of repatriating coffins/bones to China from overseas through Hong Kong, since the modern high tide of emigration driven by economic survival, was established before the construction of the TWCH.


It was the perpetual continuation of the repatriation of coffins/bones from Chinese communities overseas and the growing demand for this kind of service from transnational China that necessitated the establishment of the TWCH. This development also had a historical/geographical backdrop relating to Hong Kong's position as a free port and transit point and its rapid growth into an international entrepot where oceanic liners, cargoes, remittances, and other transnational entities could be treated according to norms acceptable to the modern world. Hong Kong's proximity to mainland China of course made the port a place where increasing numbers of returnees from overseas, living or dead, came for homecoming transfer arrangements. As pointed out in the preceding section, human remains from Chinese communities in the United States did arrive in Hong Kong as early as the 1850s. Shipments continued to come in the 1860s and 1870s. Besides, some local coffins also needed temporary shelter before being sent to native places on the mainland. To meet the increasing demand for a coffin and bone repository, the Tung Wah Hospital set up the Slaughterhouse Coffin Home in 1875. But a set of regulations for coffin home operation appeared in the hospital's 1873 account book; it is thus possible that the hospital started the service even before the building of the Slaughterhouse Coffin Home. Perhaps facing the influx of returned coffins and bones, charity associations such as the Changhoutang and Guangfutang needed help in Hong Kong to accommodate the repatriated remains of their townsfolk from San Francisco.

By the end of the 1890s even the Slaughterhouse Coffin Home was too small and crudely equipped for the growing number of incoming coffins and bones. Finally the hospital decided to build a new coffin home at Sandy Bay. With land provision from the government, the construction of the TWCH was completed in 1900. For the half century that followed, the TWCH became the pivot of repatriation of coffins and bones from Chinese communities all over the world to native places of the deceased. Until the early 1950s when the embargo problem affected the communication between China and the world outside, the TWCH may have been the only agency in the world that shouldered this unique kind of charity work on such a vast scale. It was the largest communal repository of coffins and bones in Hong Kong, and perhaps in this part of the Chinese world. Space and scale aside, institutionally it was highly advanced and thus won the trust of Chinese communities inside and outside China. It soon became the central link of a global network that facilitated the repatriation work.

Hong Kong's proximity to mainland China, along with its transformation into a major trading port in Asia and a hub for international trade, accelerated the pace of modernization of its transportation industry and legal system. The Tung Wah Hospital, with its rules and regulations and systematic operations, swiftly became a model for Chinese charitable organizations across the globe. In particular, the TWCH well demonstrated the hospital's international role. A comparison of relevant regulations before the coffin home's establishment with the rules and regulations of 1903, (31) the rules and regulations for the management of the TWCH in 1926, (32) the amendments of the rules and regulations of the TWCH in 1938, (33) and the rules and regulations of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' Coffin Home and the coffin home's management in 1955 (34) sheds light on the progress of systemization of the home's operation. In fact, the account book, zhenxinlu [phrase omitted], of 1873 (35) already contained rules and regulations for coffin home services that meticulously specify the maximum duration and charges for coffin and bones deposited, along with the procedures for remains collection, repatriation, and burial. The TWCH continued to use these rules and regulations in its early years, until the board of directors consolidated them into the rules and regulations of the TWCH in 1903. The new rules and regulations offered a clearer definition of the duty of the coffin home's caretakers. By the 1920s the rules and regulations for the management of the TWCH were drawn up to emphasize management systems and underscore the establishment's importance to the Overseas Chinese. In the 1930s the home amended its rules and regulations once again, stipulating that coffin home managers were forbidden from extorting money from customers. (36)

Apart from endorsing governing rules and regulations that were drawn up by the board of directors of the Tung Wah Hospital, the government would sometimes impose additional requirements on the coffin home. For instance, the Sanitary Board stipulated in 1919 (37) that coffins entering and leaving the TWCH must be accompanied by burial authorization certificates issued by the board. In late 1939 (38) the Secretary for Chinese Affairs demanded that coffin home managers obtain official burial authorization certificates before releasing any coffins. By the 1940s the coffin home had placed a stronger emphasis on the legal basis of its operations. The board of directors amended the coffin home's mies and regulations in 1940 (39) stipulating that for each coffin that entered the establishment, a contract must be signed between their agents and guarantors and Tung Wah. The agents and guarantors were asked to abide by the rules and regulations of the TWCH and also to provide rental guarantees. In the 1950s, (40) the coffin home further developed a sound set of rules and regulations. A coordination working group of the coffin home was formed to solve the problems of congestion and rent arrears as well as to respond to the decline in repatriation activities. The rules and regulations of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' Coffin Home, amended by the working group in 1955, (41) were thorough and exhaustive to an unprecedented degree. These served as the blueprint for the coffin home's rules and regulations in force today. (42)

With rules and regulations to be observed, the operation of the TWCH has always been systematic. Major services of the establishment included providing temporary refuge for local and overseas coffins/bones as well as the Jinshanguan [phrase omitted] (literally, "Gold Mountain coffins") for Chinese who died onboard ocean liners sailing American routes, and burying unclaimed remains at charity cemeteries. Coffin/bone repatriation, however, involved more complicated procedures, namely, the reception, deposit, and transportation of the remains. Generally speaking, Overseas Chinese organizations first applied for export/import certificates in their respective cities and commissioned ship companies to transport coffins/bones of their late fellow townsfolk to Hong Kong. The coffins/bones were then shipped to the Tung Wah Hospital in Hong Kong while lading documents were obtained from the steamship company concerned and posted to the hospital.

After the vessel had arrived in Hong Kong, the shipping company would ask Tung Wah to collect the coffins with the bill of lading. Then the hospital commissioned an undertaker to transport the coffins from the vessel to the TWCH on a small boat. The TWCH received and housed the coffins/ bones awaiting transfer to mainland China. Usually no rent was charged for temporary stay at the home. At the same time the hospital would publish advertisements in newspapers informing relatives and relevant charitable organizations that the deceased's remains were ready to be claimed. Meanwhile, the coffin home could also arrange for coffin transportation boats (commonly known as xiagou boats ([phrase omitted], namely, small fishing vessels) to transport the coffins and bones to the deceaseds respective hometowns for burial with the understanding that the transportation costs would be borne by the families of the deceased. Before a coffin could be shipped, a certificate of guarantee bearing the seal of a substantial Hong Kong business establishment and an export certificate issued by the Director for Inland Revenue had to be obtained. If the deceased's family collected the remains from the TWCH and took them back to China in person, then no export certificate was required. They would not be liable for any shipping charge either, but still had to produce a certificate of guarantee from a substantial Hong Kong business establishment in order to claim the remains. (43) Some unclaimed coffins and bones might, however, end up being stranded at the coffin home for some time (the usual length was one year by rule) until they were buried under the Tung Wah Hospital's charitable burying grounds in Hong Kong. For delayed pickup, a rent was charged.

Coffins were mostly transported on the xiagou boats hired by a funeral undertaker, who also prepared coffins for the coffin home and offered basic funeral services. These boats were useful in repatriating coffins and bones because the transportation route often included shallow and narrow waterways. To ensure a smooth process of repatriation, the TWCH only worked with contracted funeral undertakers. The traffic inland was so frequent that the hospital had to get an annual entry permit from the authorities in Canton. Although the agreements between Tung Wah and the funeral undertakers specified shipping charges and strictly forbade money extortion, (44) problems remained. Sometimes the xiagou boats ran into pirates. In other cases local authorities in China made things difficult for their passage. In the face of numerous difficulties, Tung Wah had to reiterate the coffin home's rules and regulations and punished those who violated them. The hospital also undertook efforts in handling complaints and mediating disputes. (45)

The charitable deed that centered on the repatriation of coffins and bones was indeed a unique service offered by the coffin home of the Tung Wah organization, following a Chinese tradition that extended benevolence to funerary and burial matters and at the same time responding to the demand for hometown burial from across the globe. This demand emerged after a large number of Chinese people left the country in the late nineteenth century. Making use of Hong Kong's status as a free trading port and taking advantage of the city's high degree of accessibility and proximity to mainland China, as well as its modern legal system, the TWCH single-handedly took up and institutionalized the repatriation of remains of Overseas Chinese through a global Chinese charitable network, with Hong Kong as the hub.

As indicated in the coffin home archives, areas from which coffins/bones were sent by Overseas Chinese organizations to mainland China through Hong Kong included the following:

* United States: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Honolulu.

* Canada: Vancouver, New Westminster, Toronto, and Montreal.

* Mexico: Hermosillo, La Paz, and Nogales.

* Central and South America: Cuba, Panama, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Trinidad, and Peru.

* Asia: Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, Cambodia, and Burma.

* Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Townsville, Brisbane, and New South Wales.

* Europe and Africa: A small number of locations from each continent.

Receiving points in mainland China included the following:

* Guangdong: Nanhai, Jiujiang, Huaxian, Shunde, Panyu, Dongguan, Sihui, Qingyuan, Gaoming, Gaoyao, Sanshui, Zhongshan, Taishan, Kaiping, Enping, Xinhui, Heshan, Xinan (Baoan), Zengcheng, Yangjiang, Xinxing, Huiyang, Qiongya, Beihai, Kaijian, Meixian, Boluo, Hepu, Yunfu, Zijin, and Yangchun.

* Other provinces: Fujian, Shandong, and Zhejiang.

* Cities: Canton, Shanghai, and Tianjin.

Between sending points and receiving points, Hong Kong played a key role in facilitating the repatriation. (46) After opening its port to foreign trade, Hong Kong developed into an important entrepot that functioned as a bridge connecting Overseas Chinese with their hometowns on the mainland. These conditions were essential for the coffin/bone repatriation services. As Hong Kong's leading charitable organization, the Tung Wah Hospital, and later the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, naturally became the largest intermediary for the transportation of coffins and bones. As gathered from archival documents, transport through Tung Wah was the most popular way of repatriation following the establishment of the TWCH.

The global web of coffin/bone repatriation became much wider after 1900 and eventually covered the global Chinese world. In a current pilot study with a focus on the United States, I have found that among some 150 Overseas Chinese benevolent organizations that had a connection with the TWCH in terms of the repatriation of coffins/bones during the period from 1900 to 1949, 42 were in the United States. (47) At any rate, native-place ties played a dominant role; regional townsfolk's organizations were the most conspicuous players in the mechanism of repatriation operation, though occasionally the task was taken up by clansmen's organizations, individual families, or Freemason groups. Indeed, regional communities have been the most significant components of Chinese society inside and outside China. While these huiguan organizations initiated the repatriation process, Tung Wah in Hong Kong took up the critical role in the operational mechanism and the final delivery of returned bones of Chinese Americans to their native towns in China, as the following section demonstrates.


At the sending points of the homebound burial network, the huiguan constituted the majority of Overseas Chinese organizations. As pointed out above, in some areas such as San Francisco, which had the largest Chinese settlement in the United States from the gold rush era, the huiguan would designate the repatriation mission to their branches, called tangs [phrase omitted] (halls), which functioned as charitable societies specializing in collection and repatriation of coffins/bones. Understandably this task was led by the most resourceful leaders of the Chinese communities: the merchants who established the huiguan, who could shoulder the charitable work of homebound burial on a vast scale and level of intensity. Only occasionally and on a small scale would clansmen's associations such as Linxihetang [phrase omitted] or shops owned by prominent merchants (e.g., Guanglihao [phrase omitted] in San Francisco) take up the job, as some cases in the TWCH archives indicate. Even Freemason organizations as famous as Zhigongtang [phrase omitted] were sometimes involved.

At the receiving end, charity organizations were more diversified. Besides the well-known charitable societies called shantung [phrase omitted], charitable hospitals called fangbie yiyuan [phrase omitted] (literally, "hospitals of convenience"), merchants' associations (huiguan), prominent shops, official offices at the levels of county, township, or village, bureaus of commerce, and charitable cemeteries, as well as societies of returned Overseas Chinese are all organizations that appear in the TWCH archives as contacts at the receiving points of the homebound burial network.

The correspondence in the TWCH archives also reveals that a great number of Hong Kong agencies or representative offices of overseas/mainland organizations in Hong Kong were responsible for or helped claim the remains of Overseas Chinese from the TWCH. These organizations included regional benevolent associations, merchant associations, companies trading with North America, and other business establishments. Some examples include the Taishan Chamber of Commerce ([phrase omitted]), Fengcaitang [phrase omitted] (benevolent association of Taishan natives), Kaiping Chamber of Commerce ([phrase omitted]). Guangfutang [phrase omitted] (benevolent association of Kaiping natives), Nanhai Chamber of Commerce ([phrase omitted]) Sanshui Chamber of Commerce ([phrase omitted]), Zengcheng Chamber of Commerce ([phrase omitted]), and the Wing On Company.

People representing families of the dead, or regional organizations such as charity associations, townsfolk's associations, and chambers of commerce came to the coffin home to claim the remains, pay the transportation fee, serve as guarantors, and so on. Some were merchants from the "Gold Mountain firms," which engaged in all kinds of transpacific trade; or other trading companies, shops, and businesses, which were entrusted with the tasks to handle remittances, outstanding payments, and so forth.

All the information above about charitable organizations in the sending points, receiving points, and Hong Kong can be gathered from the TWCH archives and the archives of the Tung Wah Hospital (Tung Wah Group of Hospitals as of 1931). (48) Apart from a large number of registers of inbound and outbound coffins and bones of local and Overseas Chinese, the archives comprise records of coffin intakes, shipping documents, lease records, and statistical documents for rent arrears. Most importantly the TWCH archives also include over twenty thousand pages of the official correspondence of the coffin home--letters informing Tung Wah of coffins and bones to expect, and letters from all over the world regarding the remains of the Chinese overseas being transported to Hong Kong for transfer to China. The TWCH archives also include parts of the archival records of the Tung Wah Hospital itself concerning the coffin home. The wealth of information contained in the archives of the TWCH is the largest collection of original source materials on coffin/bone repatriation of the Chinese people across the globe in existence today, overshadowing the jianyun documents, such as those of the Chonghoutang and Guangfutang (discussed in the earlier section entitled "Early Overseas Chinese Charitable Homebound Burial Arrangements").

In comparison to the archives in Tung Wah, the jianyun documents were produced by a small number of charity societies in charge of bone collection and repatriation, especially in the early period before the TWCH was in operation. After Tung Wah took up the repatriation mission, the Chonghoutang, Guangfutang, and other associations in charge of the early jianyun work would become clients of Tung Wah. For instance, in the TWCH archives there is a 1935 letter from Chonghoutang in San Francisco to Tung Wah regarding the association's "one-in-ten years" jianyun, which had ended with a shipment of 98 human remains of Panyu natives to be shipped to Hong Kong. Tung Wah was informed that Chonghoutang's agency in Hong Kong, Jishantang, would come to claim the shipment for return to China. (49) Another letter in the archives (dated 1934), from Guangfutang to Tung Wah, was about a shipment of 474 human remains (80 boxes) of Siyi natives to be shipped by a liner to Hong Kong. A bill of lading was attached for Tung Wah to pick up the boxes and then transport them to Taishan and Kaiping in Guangdong. (50)

The archives of the Tung Wah Hospital testify to the development of the homebound burial system from the pre-coffin home times to the period after the coffin home was built. They also detail the essential requirements for institutionalization of the system. To reconstruct the operation and procedures of the repatriation work, however, we need to comb through details in the correspondence between Tung Wah and Chinese benevolent organizations overseas and their counterparts in China. From these rich source materials we are informed of the number of boxes of bones, the charity organizations that received them for delivery to the hometowns of the dead, the names of the ocean liners sailing from San Francisco to Hong Kong with boxes of bones as cargo, the boats arranged by Tung Wah to transport bones to the receiving points in South China, the expenses incurred and paid by the huiguan through agents in Hong Kong (such as charity societies, shops, trading companies, chambers of commerce), and so forth. Tung Wah also helped pass burial fees donated by the huiguan to families of the deceased, following the usual practices observed by all charitable organizations at the sending points.

Detailed in the letters are also the number of boxes/sets of bones/remains, transport fees, burial money donated by the huiguan, names of liners sailing to Hong Kong, bills of lading, burial money, fees for advertisement about the repatriation, and travel allowances for charitable associations' representatives, with rich documents appended, including office certificates, checks, invoices, receipts, vouchers, and long lists of names of the deceased with addresses at their native towns. Oftentimes even death certificates, embalmers' examination reports, and rules of the transportation of the dead issued by the U.S. government are attached. With these items, the institutionalization of the repatriation system can be well attested.

With its status as the first "Gold Mountain," the United States stood out (in comparison to other "Gold Mountains" such as Canada and Australia, for example) as the "sending point" in the coffin/bone repatriation network with the largest number of Overseas Chinese benevolent organizations that had contacts with Tung Wah for the purpose of homebound burial arrangements for their fellow townsfolk in the United States. Among some forty-two Chinese American organizations, about twenty-two were in the vicinity of San Francisco since the gold rush times. (51) The majority of these organizations were those of the huiguan type except for a clansmen's association (the Linxihetang), a Freemason association (the Zhigongtang), and a merchant shop called Guanglihao, as mentioned above.

Organizations of this kind in other American cities, according to the TWCH archives, included the Ningyang huiguan [phrase omitted] in Los Angeles; one Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) in Seattle; one CCBA, one funeral home, and two regional organizations in New York; one regional organization and one merchant shop in Philadelphia; one CCBA in Boston; one CCBA in Pittsburgh; one CCBA and its charity association in Chicago; one CCBA in Baltimore; one charity association in New Orleans; one CCBA and one charity association in Portland; one CCBA and one charity association in Cleveland; and one CCBA and one charity association in Honolulu. (52) As the first "Gold Mountain" town, San Francisco stood out as the American port city with the largest number of Chinese regional organizations in charge of homebound burial. While other American cities had only one to four organizations of this kind, San Francisco's twenty-two exceeded the total number (twenty) of all other cities combined. As the first "gold rush" city, San Francisco had the earliest established charitable associations specialized in homebound burial through Hong Kong, even before the time of the TWCH. As district associations, these huiguan usually made arrangements for the homebound return of their fellow townsfolk, who seldom chose to be buried in a foreign country.

Writers who told of the early years of Chinese migration to the United States often noted that very few of these sojourning migrants intended to stay in America for long. Chinese sojourners, rich and poor, living or dead, would return to their native places eventually. While labor contracts covered clauses touching "the matters of eventualities in case of death," (53) a "big shot" funeral in San Francisco at the beginning of the twentieth century was recorded with the following remark: "At a later period the body is exhumed, the bones are scraped, and all that remains of the departed is shipped to his beloved resting place--the Flowery Kingdom." (54) One author commented that "the great passion of every Chinaman from the wealthiest merchant to the humblest coolie, was to have his bones returned to the tomb of his ancestors." (55) In addition to ancestor worship, Cantonese second burial custom also dictated that after the body was buried for a period of time, the bones were to be exhumed for reburial. It was under the influence of this religious belief and the fear of becoming "a lone soul or solitary ghost" wandering in a land of strangers, away from family and hometown, that homebound burial was thus necessitated.

Geomancy (fengshui [phrase omitted]) was just as influential in the Cantonese tradition of reburial, which was related to the belief about the power of bones and the danger of the flesh. (56) It was also widely believed that proper burial would guarantee that the deceased not only rested well but also brought blessings to the descendants. It can be said therefore that fengshui principles functioned to alleviate many of the fears associated with death. (57) As reburial in China would ensure that the individual who died overseas would eventually repose in peace near home and family, returning bones to China soon became a practice taken up by the Chinese diaspora from the gold rush era.

Death in a strange land did pose a difficult problem in reality to the early Chinese migrants to the first Gold Mountain, when they were not allowed to use the existing cemeteries of nineteenth-century San Francisco. (58) Some American cities required separate burial areas for "Mongolians," as the Chinese were racially categorized. (59) Some local authorities considered the Chinese a health hazard and banned them from burying the dead in existing cemeteries. As a result, exclusive Chinese cemeteries were established throughout the area. The ban may have encouraged traditional Chinese burial practices as well. These Chinese cemeteries were mostly managed by relevant branches of the huiguan, which also hired men to exhume bones for repatriation to South China. (60)

The huiguan therefore became the key to the establishment of the "modern tradition" of homebound burial in the Chinese diaspora. Before the TWCH took up the pivotal role in bone repatriation, overseas huiguan and their shantang branches took charge of the jianyun job and shipped boxes of exhumed bones to the native places of the dead through their associated agents in Hong Kong. While author Charles Caldwell Dobie wrote that by the end of 1851 about ten thousand bodies had been shipped from the United SLates back to China, (61) scholars have conjectured that the numbers dwindled in the twentieth century. (62) But one scholar also mentioned that after the 1920s, a Chinese mortuary "received most of the contracts to exhume bones for shipment to China; the contracts were renewed after each shipment of bones, which occurred every ten years." (63) In fact, according to the TWCH archives the shipments did not stop until the interruption caused by the Sino-Japanese War and then the complete halt in the early 1950s after the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Perhaps during the early years of the gold rush era, almost all the bones of deceased Chinese were sent back, (64) while later, in the first half of the twentieth century, some may have been left behind. The exact proportion of those buried in the United States and those returned to China is hard to ascertain though. For example, it is difficult to produce the statistics of bones sent to San Francisco from other regions of the United States for repatriation to China, in addition to those processed locally in the city port, unless we figure out a way to make use of government burial records to shed light on the issue. And statistics are rare in records kept by the huiguan. A few of them still keep some old jianyun books, but these are mainly qualitative source material.

Some scholars have cited figures in funeral homes' records that contradict the impression that the Chinese were returned to their hometowns after they died. (65) For example, in Reno, Nevada, one funeral home's records of 1904-1919 indicate that among the seventeen deceased Chinese only one was shipped to China and one was disinterred and sent to China via San Francisco. According to another funeral home's records of 1911-1939, only three of the thirty-three dead Chinese were disinterred and repatriated to China. (66) Unfortunately only when the TWCH archives are available for consultation do we come to learn that the huiguan, not funeral homes, handled most of the homebound burial cases. Through the years it was the huiguan that carried out both mutual aid and charitable functions that sustained the homebound burial tradition of the Chinese diaspora uninterruptedly until the mid-twentieth century. They worked with the TWCH after it was established to further institutionalize the homebound burial system, as detailed in preceding paragraphs. For example, though famous charity societies of the huiguan in San Francisco, such as the Changhoutang and Guangfutang, continued to play the same role after the TWCH was established, they, along with their counterparts, did become part of the coffin/bone repatriation system that was increasingly institutionalized with the TWCH as a fulcrum during the first half of the twentieth century.


For those whose coffins/bones eventually returned home, they seemed to have found a final resting place. Their last wishes of "returning fallen leaves to their roots" were realized because of the working of a well-established system of charity. It was basically a charitable institution that functioned to support the repatriation of coffins/bones of all, including the poor. While communal funds had been instituted for this purpose, as mentioned, Overseas Chinese benevolent associations usually donated burial money to the bereft families in hometowns, and the TWCH only collected minimum transportation charges. Temporary storage at the coffin home of coffins/bones awaiting transit to the native places of the dead was free. Only the families of those whose remains were kept for lengthy periods had to pay rent, which were yet often delayed or even evaded. In records of the coffin home as well as other archival documents such as minutes of board meetings, rent arrears became a headache to the hospital authorities. While the repatriation may have been a matter of business for steamship companies, (67) for instance, the Tung Wah Hospital and other benevolent associations, which by nature were operated on a "combination of charitable and mutual aid principles," as well put by Elizabeth Sinn, (68) would never take the deed itself as a money-making undertaking, though they might well understand that social-moral virtue could in effect legitimate economic power.

Established between benevolent organizations in Chinese communities all over the world and charitable associations in China was a charity network, with Hong Kong as die key link, which functioned to sustain the tradition (a modern one, as stated above) of homebound burial/reburial of Chinese emigrants. It should be stressed that it was also a network for both migration and return (living or dead). Through the same network remittances were sent home from overseas. It was also a business network facilitating the movement of money, goods, personnel, and so forth: it was a logistic network and a network for informational interflow as well. Through this network, Chinese people not only were linked by shared customary tradition and sociocultural institutions but were also drawn to a global socioeconomic and legal system in which Hong Kong has been a key player since modern times, as vividly evidenced by the TWCH's archival records.

It can be said that after 1900 the sending points/Hong Kong/receiving points network and the mechanism of coffin/bone repatriation were increasingly institutionalized. Having been affected by this process, the overseas huiguan continued its role in sustaining the homebound burial tradition, renewed yet persistent. When combing the coffin home archival documents that testify to the routine operation of the repatriation work, what is most impressive may be the seriousness of the performance of this arduous and morbid task, the highly systemic procedures, the dedication to details of the practice, and the amazing continuity of the institution. As an overseas charitable institution, (69) the huiguan carried on the traditional practice of homebound burial along the customary path, yet began a peculiar "modern tradition" involving Chinese overseas in a modern era of globalization. This modern global charity network was then further institutionalized from 1900 when the TWCH provided the all-around arrangement for the repatriation operation at the transit point of the network.

The 1950s did look like a period of abrupt change, though it would be counterfactual to imagine what would have happened if there was no embargo problem to stop the tradition. What is behind this almost obsessive human behavior is worth further and deeper exploration. Yes, the coffin home archives are already rich enough in content for us to spend years to digest, but I have come to believe that they are to be read along with many other source materials, especially those with field information that may enable us to understand the life experience of the early generations of the diasporic Chinese. Thus far the jianyun documents and field investigations have drawn my attention to the problem of general discrimination encountered by the first generation of Chinese emigrants to Gold Mountain. This may contribute to the explanation of the need of a general charity program rather than just a mutual aid scheme. The program had a self-help function as well for a race to survive in a hostile environment.

Therefore, besides traditional customs, religious beliefs, and emotional attachment to hometowns, life experience in the host countries is also part of the explanation for the behavior of Overseas Chinese intent on the return of their bodies, and more importantly, their souls, back home. They were discriminated against even after death. In some regions such as Hanford, California, they were not allowed to be buried in public cemeteries. (70) Their graves were in areas in the poorest condition, as the case of Marysville, California, demonstrates. (71) Vandalism was very common in the early days. (72) Generally Chinese graveyards were too small and bones had to be exhumed after a certain period to create space for others. Repatriation plans were thus necessitated. While the jianyun documents evidence the experience of "discrimination after death," information from my field visits to old cemeteries in California basically verifies what was written by the jianyun work teams about the extreme difficulties in collecting and sending bones of their fellow townsfolk.

Indeed, as well put by Elizabeth Sinn, "Human remains constituted a totally different type of 'cargo' with its very own unique emotional, cultural and spiritual connotations, involving different fears, desires, and expectations." (73) Certainly bone transportation was a profitable business for ship companies. And for Chinese merchants-philanthropists involved in the trade between California and Hong Kong, as well as the jianyun philanthropic acts, "the dividing line between charitable and commercial activities could become indistinguishable." (74) Through good deeds, these Chinese men of means and influence could translate financial worth into moral worth, and business capital into social capital. (75) It is nonetheless the incredible emotional urge for homebound return that created the strong need for these massive efforts involving both financial power and charitable compassion, which require not only a socioeconomic approach to this peculiar phenomenon of human behavior but also the perspective of the history of emotions. After all, the history of death inevitably touches the very emotional ultimate concern of the "home" for everybody.

In terms of the number of people under study, although we do not know the exact ratio between bones/remains repatriated and those buried overseas forever, as pointed out above, the estimated number of a hundred thousand remains in a half century--thousands every year on average, based on the TWCH's archival records--is not negligible at all. Of course there were cases of Overseas Chinese pioneers who chose to be buried in their host countries. (76) And records in some areas might contradict the impression that deceased Chinese usually returned to their native places. (77) The TWCH archives, however, testify to the phenomenon that bones/ remains were being shipped back to China continuously until the early 1950s when the embargo problem ended the saga, and Hong Kong had contributed to the institutionalization and continuity of this long "modern tradition" of charitable homebound burial for Overseas Chinese from all over the world, including the United States


(1.) Elizabeth Sinn, Pacific Crossing: CaliforniaGold, Chinese Migration, and the Making of Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2013), chapter 7.

(2.) According to a crude estimate based on figures of coffins/bones mentioned in correspondence in archival records of the TWCH and the Tung Wah Hospital (and Tung Wah Group of Hospitals after 1931). See Gao Tianqiang [phrase omitted], "Sangzang fuwu yu yuanji anzang" [phrase omitted], in Xian Yuyi [phrase omitted] and Liu Runhe [phrase omitted], comp., Yishan xingdao: Donghua sanvuan 135 zhounian jinian zhuanti wenji [phrase omitted] 135[phrase omitted] (Hong Kong: joint Publishing [HK] Co., Ltd., 200o), 106.

(3.) June Mei, "Socioeconomic Origins of Emigration: Guangdong to California, 1850-1882," Modern China 5, no. 4 (1979).

(4.) Mei, "Socioeconomic Origins of Emigration"; Ronald Skeldon, ed., Emigration from Hong Kong: Tendencies and Impacts (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1995).

(5.) That is, Sunny South, according lo Alta California, May 16, 1855.

(6.) China Mail, July 12, 1855.

(7.) Sinn, Pacific Crossing, 271; Elizabeth Sinn, "Moving Bones: Hong Kong's Role as an 'In-Between Place' in the Chinese Diaspora," in Sherman Cochran and David Strand, eds., Cities in Motion (Berkeley: China Research Monographs, IEAS, University of California, Berkeley, 2007), 271. See also William Speer, The Oldest and the Newest Empire: China and the U.S. (Hartford, Conn.: S. S. Scranton & Co., 1870), 614-15.

(8.) Yong Chen, ChineseSan Francisco, 1850-1943: A Transpacific Community (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000); and Sue Fawn Chung and Priscilla Wegars, eds., Chinese American Death Rituals: Respecting the Ancestors (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2005). For the "second burial" custom, see James L. Watson, "The Structure of Chinese Funerary Rites: Elementary Forms, Ritual Sequence, and the Primacy of Performance," and "Funeral Specialists in Cantonese Society: Pollution, Performance, and Social Hierarchy," and Rubie S. Watson, "Remembering the Dead: Graves and Politics in Southeastern China," in Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China, ed. James L. Watson and Evelyn S. Rawski (Berkeley: University of California, 1988): and Luo Kaiyu [phrase omitted], Zhongguo sangzang yu wenhua [phrase omitted] (Haikou: Hainan renmin chubanshe, 1988).

(9.) For more accounts on exhumation in California, e.g., see Wendy L. Rouse, '"What We Didn't Understand': A History of Chinese Death Ritual in China and California," in Chung and Wegars, Chinese American Death Rituals, 37.

(10.) Liang Qichao [phrase omitted], "Xindalu youji jielu>> [phrase omitted]," in Yinbingshi heji [phrase omitted] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 1989), vol. 7, Zhuanji [phrase omitted]22, 114-15.

(11.) Hokari Hiroyuki [phrase omitted], "Shinmatsu shanhai shime kosho no "unkan nettwaku" no keisei: Kindai chugoku shakai ni okeru dokyo ketsugo ni tsuite" [phrase omitted], Shakai-Keizai Shigaku [phrase omitted], 59, no. 6 (1994).

(12.) Marlon Horn, "Fallen Leaves' Homecoming: Notes on the 1893 Gold Mountain Charity Cemetery in Xinhui," Chinese America: History & Perspectives (2002).

(13.) U.S. Congress, Report of the Joint Special Committee to Investigate Chinese Immigration, U.S. Senate, 44th Congress (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1877), 446-48.

(14.) Liu Boji [phrase omitted], Meiguo huaqiao shi [phrase omitted] (Taibei: Limin Wenhui shiye, 1976), 165.

(15.) Huang Zunxian [phrase omitted], Huang Zunxian quanji [phrase omitted] (Beijing: Zhonghua shuju, 2005), 462.

(16.) Huang, 462. Brackets in the original; parens are mine.

(17.) U.S. Congress, Report of the Joint Special Committee.

(18.) Huang, Huang Zunxian quanji, 463.

(19.) Huang, 463.

(20.) Liu, Meiguo huaqiao shi, 173.

(21.) Sinn, "Moving Bones," 9.

(22.) "Diyi jie jianyun xianyou jielue diyi pian" [phrase omitted], in Lu Mei Sanyi zonghuiguan shilue bianji weiyuanhui [phrase omitted], comp., Lu Mei Sanyi zonghuiguan shilue, 1850-2000 [phrase omitted], (San Francisco: Lu Mei Sanyi zonghuiguan, 2000), 287.

(23.) "Dierjie jianyun xianyou jielue dier pian" [phrase omitted], in Lu Mei Sanyi zonghuiguan shilue bianji weiyuanhui, 287-88.

(24.) Sinn, "Moving Bones," note 3.

(25.) Sinn, "Moving Bones," 255-60.

(26.) Marlon Horn, "Fallen Leaves' Homecoming."

(27.) Guangfuiang [phrase omitted]: Quajuan changvivizhuang mulu [phrase omitted] (Hong Kong, 1903).

(28.) "Quajuan changvi vizhong vizhuang anzangguvou xiaoyin" [phrase omitted], in Guangfutang zhengxinlu [phrase omitted]. (Hong Kong, 1882).

(29.) For example, in 1870 the remains of 1,200 Chinese Central Pacific Railroad workers were repatriated to their hometowns through Hong Kong, according to Sacramento (CA) Reporter, June 30, 1870.

(30.) Universal Circulating Herald, April 8, 1874.

(31.) Ye Hanming [phrase omitted], Donghua vizhuang yu huanqiu cishan wangluo: Dangan wenxian ziliao de vinzheng yu qishi [phrase omitted] (Hong Kong: Sanlian shudian [HK] Co. Ltd., 2009), 8.

(32.) Ye, Donghua vizhuang vu huanqiu cishan wangluo, 83-84.

(33.) Ye, 88-89.

(34.) Ye, 96-100.

(35.) Ye, 78-80.

(36.) Ye, chapter 2.

(37.) Ye, 82-83.

(38.) Ye, 89.

(39.) Ye, 90-91.

(40.) Ye, 92-100.

(41.) Ye, 96-100.

(42.) Ye, 101.

(43.) Ye, chapter 3, section 1.

(44.) Ye, chapter 2.

(45.) Ye, chapter 3, section 2.

(46.) See map in Ye, 186-87.

(47.) See list in Ye, 175-77.

(48.) The hospital was renamed as the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in 1931. In the text that follows, "the Tung Wah Hospital" is used as a general name covering both the hospital before 1931 and the group of hospitals after that year.

(49.) "Waibu guangu hanjian" ([phrase omitted]), 1932-1936, in Yizhuang wenxian [phrase omitted], the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals.

(50.) "Waibu guangu hanjian."

(51.) Ye, Donghua vizhuang vu huanqiu cishan wangluo, 175-177.

(52.) Ye, 175-77.

(53.) Charles Caldwell Dobie, San Francisco Chinatown (New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1936), 67.

(54.) Charles Keele, San Francisco and Thereabouts (San Francisco: California Promotion Committee of San Francisco, 1902), 67.

(55.) Dobie, San Francisco Chinatown, 67.

(56.) See Susan Naquin, "Funerals in North China: Uniformity and Variation," in Death Ritual in Late Imperial and Modern China, 58.

(57.) Wendy L. Rouse, "What We Didn't Understand': A History of Chinese Death Ritual in China and California," in Chung and Wegars, Chinese American Death Rituals, 31.

(58.) Linda Sun Crowder, "The Chinese Mortuary Tradition in San Francisco Chinatown," in Chung and Wegars, Chinese American Death Rituals, 198.

(59.) Sue Fawn Chung and Priscilla Wegars, "Introduction," in Chung and Wegars, Chinese American Death Rituals, 7.

(60.) Rouse, '"What We Didn't Understand,'" 35.

(61.) Dobie, San Francisco Chinatown, 68.

(62.) Chung and Wegars, "Introduction," 8; and Crowder, "Chinese Mortuary Tradition," 198.

(63.) Crowder, "Chinese Mortuary Tradition," 200.

(64.) Current studies of the topic have gathered some scraps of information. See Sinn, Pacific Crossing, 268; Chung and Wegars,"Introduction," 6-7; and Roberta S. Greenwood, "Old Rituals in New Lands: Bringing the Ancestors to America," in Chung and Wegars, Chinese American Death Rituals, 245.

(65.) Chung and Wegars, "Introduction," 8.

(66.) Chung and Wegars, 8.

(67.) For average cost for sending bone boxes, see Sinn, Pacific Crossing, 268.

(68.) Sinn, Pacific Crossing, 277.

(69.) I have tried to conceptualize the huiguan institution (which had cultural, social, economic, and political functions) in my chapter on the huiguan in John Fitzgerald and Hon-ming Yip, eds., Chinese Diaspora Charity and the Cantonese Pacific, 1850-1949 (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, forthcoming).

(70.) Based on field research in the summers of 2008 and 2009.

(71.) Based on field research; summers of 2008, 2009. For the case of Marysville, see Paul L. Chace, "On Dying American: Cantonese Rites for Death and Ghost Spirits in an American City," in Chung and Wegars, Chinese American Death Rituals, 47-79.

(72.) My field research in Canada in 2008 and 2009 pointed to the same condition; see also David Chuenyan Lai, Chinese Community Leadership: Case Study of Victoria in Canada (Singapore: World Scientific, 2010), 81-82.

(73.) Sinn, Pacific Crossing, 269.

(74.) Sinn, 280.

(75.) Sinn, 281, 288.

(76.) For example, the case of Ah Tye in Lani Ah Tye Farkas, Bury My Bones in America: The Saga of a Chinese Family in California 1852-1996, from San Francisco to the Sierra Gold Mines (Nevada City: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1998), 64.

(77.) Chung and Wegars, "Introduction," 8.
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Title Annotation:Tung Wah Hospital and Tung Wah Coffin Home
Author:Yip, Hon-ming
Publication:Chinese America: History and Perspectives
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9HONG
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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