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A Hundred Times Forgotten: The Life and Death of Chinese American Women in Los Angeles

Monday, October 20th, 7 PM

Three years ago, construction crews excavating for the foundations of the MTA's Gold Line in East LA, began discovering coffins buried under the streets. In all, 132 bodies were discovered, in remarkably good condition. No one knew who they were, as they were buried where no recorded cemetery existed. Our speaker, Andrea Milly, is one of a team of researchers from Cal State LA, who have identified the 100 year old bodies as those of the forgotten Chinese of early Los Angeles, the immigrants who, along with Latinos and Native Americans, provided the heavy labor that built our city. It was these very Chinese laborers, today buried under the streets of Los Angeles, who, in our own area, logged out the huge trees of Pickens Canyon, and built such legendary local monuments as the Gould Castle. Ms. Milly has focused her investigation on the skeletal remains of the 12 females in the group of mysterious forgotten corpses. She will tell us about that aspect of her research, plus the layout of graves (male, female, children, disinterred), coffin hardware (to get a more narrow possible date of burial), coffin artifacts and what that says about their social activities (opium smoking, gambling), info from the burial registry, and archival research of newspapers from the 19th/20th century covering the death of females. She hopes to identify these forgotten 12 women, and perhaps eventually discover their individual histories, their social conditions and status in the male-dominated and misunderstood history of the Chinese in Los Angeles.


A young Chinese woman peers out the caged window of a brothel in old Los Angeles.

Speaker bio: Andrea Milly is a graduate student at CSLA, and the mother of two small children. She is particularly connected to her research in that she grew up just two blocks from where the bodies were discovered, and that her husband, and thus her children, are of Chinese ancestry. She is fulfilling her lifelong dream of becoming an archaeologist.


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