Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky: Experiences of Chinese Immigrants to the US


Thursday, May 5, 2022

6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Central Time (US & Canada)
Ruggles Hall


This program is free and open to all; free tickets required. The registration period has closed for this event.

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From the earliest days of non-Native settlement of Montana, Chinese pioneers played a key role in the region's development. But the Chinese immigrant community remains underrepresented in historical accounts. Mark Johnson's forthcoming book, The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky, recovers the stories of Montana's Chinese population in their own words.

Johnson has mined several large collections of primary documents left by Chinese pioneers, rendered in English here for the first time through a transnational translation project. These collections, spanning the 1880s-1950s, provide insight into the pressures the Chinese community faced—from family members back in China and from non-Chinese Montanans—as economic and cultural disturbances complicated acceptance of Chinese residents in the state.

Through their own voices, The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky reveals the agency of Chinese Montanans in the history of the American West and China.

This event is part of programming for our current exhibition Crossings: Mapping American Journeys, which will run at the Newberry through June 25, 2022.

Purchase The Middle Kingdom under the Big Sky online from the Newberry Bookshop.

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We look forward to seeing attendees at the Newberry, where you can now visit our reading rooms, exhibition galleries, and bookshop.

Please note: This program will be held in person at the Newberry. As we welcome visitors to the library, we're continuing to closely monitor health and safety conditions related to COVID-19 in Chicago. Click here for our visitor policy.


Mark T. Johnson is associate professor in the Institute of Educational Initiatives at the University of Notre Dame.  

Allen Wang is a J.D. Candidate at Columbia Law School. He was a student involved in one of the translation projects with Mark Johnson, traveled from Shanghai to Montana to research on the team, and has stayed connected with the project since then.

Madeline Crispell is Program Coordinator at the Newberry Library and Assistant Curator for Crossings: Mapping American Journeys. Her work focuses on immigration history and material culture.


Ruggles Hall

Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610

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Contact us at publicprograms@newberry.org