Explore Salem’s Early Chinese Community and Renewed Qing Ming Celebration

Celebrants at the Qing Ming Festival earlier this month at Salem's Pioneer Cemetery honor their dead at a ceremony in April 2021.

Celebrants at the Qing Ming Festival earlier this month at Salem's Pioneer Cemetery honor their dead at a ceremony in April 2021.

​Join our own Kimberli Fitzgerald, Historic Preservation Officer and City Archaeologist, this Saturday, April 24, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., as she heads up a panel of experts on Salem's early Chinese community.

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Portland Chinatown Museum organized the event, part of the "Honoring Portland Chinatown's Past, Celebrating its Present, and Helping Create its Future" series leading up to Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month in May.

As part of efforts to better understand the history of some of Salem's underrepresented communities, Kimberli contributed to research into Salem's Chinese community.

She also organized a collaborative public archaeology project to unearth the funerary table in the Salem Pioneer Cemetery that was used during Qingming festivals in the late 1800s. Qingming is the Chinese traditional day for honoring the dead and cleaning headstones, much as was done in home villages in China.

The program features new work being done in the Salem community to uncover the long, rich history of its Chinese American residents. Kimberli will talk about the excavation of the Chinese Shrine at Salem's Pioneer Cemetery and our community's renewed Qingming celebration.

In addition, Kylie Pine, Curator and Collections Manager at the Willamette Heritage Center, will share documents, maps and photos from the museum's collection that helped expand our understanding of Salem's Historical Chinatowns.

Myron Lee and Juwen Zhang will discuss Salem's connection to China, sharing history of early immigrants. They'll also discuss more recent immigrants and events related to Salem's Asian Americans. Myron is a long-time Portland and Salem resident, and a descendant of early Toisan immigrants to Portland in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Juwen is professor of Chinese and Folklore at Willamette University.

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Kimberli FitzgeraldHistoric Preservation Officer
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