Chinese Laundry Site
Archaeologists found many fascinating artifacts that help us to imagine what life life must have been like at the laundry.
Historical Documents and Maps
Historical documents and maps told us that the laundry was called the Sing Lee Laundry and that it was operated by Chinese immigrants from about 1894 until 1937. The U.S. Federal Census gave archaeologists the names of the people who lived and worked in the laundry; they were all men and most of them had come from China.
Maps revealed that the laundry had a building near the street where the washing would have been done and where the laundry workers lived. Water to wash the clothes was heated in a boiler. In the backyard behind the laundry building was a wooden drying platform on posts, where wet clothes were hung out to dry.
During the excavation of the site, layers of ash, charcoal, and artifacts filled the backyard. The laundry workers had thrown household trash along with ash from the boiler's firebox into the backyard underneath the drying platform.
Many artifacts were found because people had lived and worked at the laundry for over 40 years. The artifacts show what tools and equipment the laundry workers used in washing and mending clothes. Only a few toys were found, so the archaeologists did not think that young children lived at the laundry.
Many of the artifacts were related to what the laundry workers ate and drank. The artifacts help us understand that workers tried Euro American food, drink, and medicine, but they also liked to eat the food and drink they were familiar with from China. This helped the workers feel connected to their homes and their past.
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This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/22/2011