More than ninety years of bay area history: group homes for Chinese children.

Author:Chan, Phillip
Position:9H Panel Summary

(Original title: China America, a radiant light: a combined 93-year history of orphanages for Chinese children in the bay area)


Lifelong friendships and a few marriages resulted from connections made through two group homes for Chinese children in the Bay Area, Chung Mei and Ming Quong. Many interrelationships are still being discovered. Contrary to public perception of the era, these group homes for Chinese youth served as a safe haven and were not intended for "bad, incorrigible, or delinquent" juvenile offenders. They are a little-known piece of California's Chinese American history. This panel consisted of a fifteen-minute video presentation followed by four panelists who shared their experiences growing up in the group homes.


chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys Berkeley, 1923. El Cerrito, 1934

Dr. Charles R. Shepherd was a Cantonese-speaking Baptist minister from England. After years of missionary work in China, Shepherd was sent as a missionary to San Francisco. Chinese boys at that time were barred from mixing with white boys at existing orphanages such as Boys Town. Shepherd secured funding from the American Baptist Home Mission Society, the Bay Cities Baptists Union, and the Bay Area's Chinese Baptists and Chinese business and community leaders, to found the Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys in Berkeley, California, in 1923. In 1934, Chung Mei was moved to E1 Cerrito, California, to accommodate the growing number of boys who needed a safe haven from the streets of San Francisco Chinatown. The new building was able to house up to one hundred boys. In Shepherd's book, The Story of Chung Mei, he describes racism only as a "difficulty" he encountered while looking for a house to care for Chinese boys. From 1923 until its close in 1954, more than eight hundred Chinese boys aged five to eighteen passed through Chung Mei Home.

The former Chung Mei Home in El Cerrito, California, still exists. The property and building are currently owned and operated by "Windrush School," a private elementary school for students, K-8. It is located at the original site: 1800 Elm Street (at Hill Street) in El Cerrito.

Ming Quong Home for Chinese Girls Mission Home (Cameron House), Original Site Sunshine Cottage and Tooker Home, 1915 Mills College Site, 1925 Loma Alta Blvd., Los Gatos, 1934 51 9th Street, Oakland, 1936 Donaldina Cameron, San Francisco's legendary "Angry Angel," was a Presbyterian...

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