The Chinese community of the American West has been studied extensively; however, most studies rely on English-language only sources. This is due both to a shortage of existing sources in Chinese from the community itself and language barriers to translating the documents that do remain. With the discovery of two large collections of Chinese-language sources at the Montana Historical Society, Concordia International School Shanghai students, teachers, and community volunteers have worked to translate hundreds of documents, researching what these sources can tell us about the Chinese experience in the Rocky Mountain region in the words of the community members themselves.
Through the investigation, a deep interconnectedness between the two communities clearly emerged, with goods, letters, and people flowing quite frequently from China to Montana and back. Listen to the podcasts below for excerpts from these rare letters.
The Helena Independent Record’s news article, Students in Shanghai Help Unravel Mysteries …
This podcast introduces the efforts of the Concordia International School Shanghai community both in Shanghai and in Helena Montana.
This podcast explains the translation process involving a research team in Helena, Montana collaborating with a translation team in Shanghai, China.
This podcast includes a conversation with Dr. Robert Swartout, expert on the Chinese experience in the American West.
This podcast is a conversation with Dr. Cathy Gorn, Director of National History Day, about the benefits conducting original research.
In Their Own Words: Translating Documents from Montana’s Chinese Community