We Also Built Stockton: Experiences of Immigrant Women in Stockton, California

This exhibit provides access to a digital collection of oral history interviews of immigrant women in Stockton with teaching tools. It is designed for undergraduate students in an introduction to U.S. women's history course. It will also be useful for students wishing to study oral history for California history and immigration history courses.

In the early 1980s, Sally Miller, Professor of History at University of the Pacific, and her students interviewed sixty immigrant women from at least twenty-five different nationality groups in Stockton.  Most came to the United States between 1920 and 1960, during the period of strict immigration restriction framed by the 1920s quota bills. A fraction also immigrated under the benefits of the 1965 Immigration Act.

These interviews help us think about crucial immigration and women's history questions:

  1. What kinds of work did women do?  What factors went into their job or career choices?
  2. In what ways did gender frame women's immigration experiences?
  3. How did immigrant experiences differ over the 20th century?

These oral histories are significant. They center women and immigrants, groups celebrated in theory but whose specific stories appear only in brief outlines in most history books. These oral histories and the lessons included here support what the National Women's History Alliance calls for: "a truly balanced and inclusive history [that] recognizes how important women have always been in American society." They also help us empathize with the current conditions that immigrants and women face.


Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific