skip to Main Content

Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files

August 25, 2017 @ 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Dinner & Program: $22; Program only $5

Chinese Exclusion Act and Chinese History in Oregon


Helen Ying and Trish Hackett Nicola offer a powerful combination of lectures on Chinese History in the Pacific Northwest in “An Act of Exclusion,” Friday, August 25 at Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Museum, 5000 Discovery Drive, The Dalles.

5:30 – Halibut dinner
6:30 – Helen Ying presents “The Untold Story: Chinese American History in Oregon”
7:30-7:40 – Intermission
7:40 – Trish Hackett Nicola presents “Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, a Treasure Trove of Original Documents”


The dinner menu includes halibut, vegetable and cashew biryani (golden raisins), salad, and lemon bars for dessert. Tickets for the dinner and program are $22; the program only is $5. Tickets must be purchased by Wed., August 23.


Helen Ying’s talk “The Untold Story: Chinese American History in Oregon,” will take audiences down the historical lane of the Oregon Chinese American communities, including the history and contributions of the early Chinese Americans in Portland, Astoria, Pendleton, and other parts of Oregon. The talk will shed light into the series of federal exclusion laws that restricted Chinese from coming to, working in, and traveling to and from the United States and how they impact the lives of Chinese Americans.

Helen Ying’s professional career encompasses 30 years of experience as a mathematics teacher, high school counselor, and high school vice-principal. Currently, she serves as a hearings officer for a local school district. In addition to her professional work, Helen has also been very active in the community. She is currently serving on a myriad of boards and in leadership positions involved in education, health care, civil rights, environment, and social justice issues. Her vision is to connect the dots for a better world. She is living that out through her mission to engage and empower people to take action in improving their communities. Learning from the past, educating the present, and informing the future is the motto that drives her passion.


Trish Hackett Nicola will be presenting “The Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files.” The files from the National Archives in Seattle produced a treasure trove of original documents. The purpose of the Chinese Exclusion Act was to limit the number of Chinese entering the United States, exclude laborers, and prevent the Chinese already here from becoming naturalized citizens. The Act created thousands and thousands of files. Most files contain photos and biographical information on the applicant who was frequently questioned in great detail about his family, home and village in China.

Trish Hackett Nicola’s presentation will give you background information about what was happening in China and the U.S. leading up to passage of the Act, tell you who was excluded, and the dates the Act was in existence. Learn about paper sons and daughters. See examples of documents and photos from the files, with some specifically from The Dalles. Find out how and where to find the files for your research.

Trish Hackett Nicola, a Certified Genealogist, is a volunteer at the National Archives-Seattle and has worked with the Chinese Exclusion Act Case files for over fifteen years. She has a blog at, and has given many presentations and written articles about the act and the case files. She is a retired CPA and librarian and now works as a professional genealogist and historian.

For more information or tickets, phone (541) 296-8600 ext. 201.