Arnold Genthe. Dressed for a Formal Visit, Chinatown, San Francisco. Arnold Genthe Collections. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-G403-BN-0387 Arnold Genthe. Dressed for a Formal Visit, Chinatown, San Francisco. Arnold Genthe Collections. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-G403-BN-0387

Exclusion laws in effect in the United States from 1875 kept the Chinese population small—not much greater than one hundred thousand in 1900—and predominantly male. Only members of the merchant class were permitted to bring over wives and children. A respectable young Chinese woman would have walked outside unescorted only on certain holidays and special occasions. Not surprisingly, given their small numbers and sheltered status, Chinese women appear infrequently in the photographs Arnold Genthe tool of San Francisco's Chinatown. This photograph, probably taken before the 1906 earthquake and fire destroyed Genthe's studio, is among more than four hundred Genthe images held by the Prints and Photographs Division.

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