Lake Chabot Dam

CSUEB Exhibit Honors Forgotten Laborers

  • February 19, 2009
  • MEDIA CONTACT: Diane Daniel, College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, (510) 885-3183;

A reception for "Forgotten Contributions of the Bay Area Chinese," a collection of artifacts from a San Leandro Reservoir dig, will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 6 at the C.E. Smith Museum of Anthropology.

The free exhibit will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday from March 9 through June 11, except for March 23-32 and May 25, in the museum, housed in Meiklejohn Hall 4047 on the Hayward campus.

The exhibition expands upon subjects covered in "Ghosts of the Dam: The Chinese Laborers at Lake Chabot," a display that museum students created for the University Library's "The Chinese-American Experience in California: A Cultural Festival." The festival commemorated the 1882 Exclusion Act that barred thousands of Chinese laborers from American citizenship.

The focal point of the exhibition honors the Chinese workers who created the San Leandro Reservoir. Their story was virtually unknown until archaeological excavations 20 years ago unearthed a Lake Chabot labor camp, exposing remnants of the unseen daily life of some 800 Chinese people.

Artifacts from the original excavation, headed by anthropology professor George Miller, include tools, bottles, opium paraphernalia, and other clues to the lives of the laborers.

"The students have created an exhibit contrasting the treatment of early Chinese immigrants with their monumental achievements," said Marjorie Rhodes-Ousley, museum associate director.

"Life in the Ice Age," a downsized continuation of the DNA exhibit the gallery has shown since 2007, will run concurrently in the adjacent north gallery. Displays include tools from the Upper Paleolithic, exhibits of ancestral DNA, and stories of their modern day descendents.

Find additional information at or call (510) 885-7414.

CSUEB welcomes persons with disabilities and will provide reasonable accommodation upon request. Please notify event sponsor at (510) 885-3118 at least two weeks in advance, if accommodation is needed. Campus parking is $5 per vehicle per day. Permits may be purchased from machines in a lot across Harder Road from Meiklejohn Hall, or in lots E2, F, G, H, K or N.

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