[San Antonio, Texas]: China War Relief Association of San Antonio, 1938. 8½” x 7”. Initially stapled wrappers, now lacking staples. Pp. . Good: front wrapper heavily chipped affecting title characters; first four pages also heavily chipped costing some text but not significantly affecting readability; 2 inch tear to four leaves; scattered small tears or chips not affecting text; lacks a rear wrapper but we do not know if it was issued with one.
This is a rare work created by an even rarer population: Chinese residents of San Antonio, Texas in the late 1930s. It's a relic of China's “national salvation movement” and the organization that created it, the China War Relief Association of San Antonio (CWRASA). The CWRASA in turn arose from a refined system of Chinese organizations in America which supported China in resisting Japanese aggression.
Starting in the early 20th century, Chinese in the United States would band together to denounce Japanese aggression towards China, as well as express their belief in the Chinese government. According to Him Mark Lai in “Roles Played by Chinese in America during China's Resistance to Japanese Aggression and during World War II,” (Chinese America: History and Perspectives 1997. (Chinese Historical Society of America, 1998)):
“After the establishment of the Kuomintang government in Nanjing in 1927 during the Northern Expedition, Japan stepped up encroachments on Chinese territory with increasing frequency. Accordingly, support of national salvation soon became top priority in the Chinese community in America.”
The book on offer was printed in February 1938, just seven months after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident ignited the Sino-Japanese War on July 7, 1937. On August 13th, the Chinese government (according to Lai),
“cabled a message to the San Francisco consulate telling all the Chinese community organizations: 'China is menaced by a strong enemy and the only recourse is war. This will determine China's continued existence or subjugation . . .The Chinese abroad are patriotic . . . at this critical juncture, we trust that we will all make every effort to shoulder our responsibilities.'”
By this time, according to Lai,
“national salvation activities in the Chinese community had provided it with the know-how and structure for fundraising and propaganda activities . . . Chinese communities all over America began to organize for fund-raising and propaganda work supporting China's resistance to Japanese aggression.”
Initially, the Chinese government tried to consolidate and supervise each community's organization, but pushback by the Chinese in the United States caused the government to back down. Thus, approximately 95 organizations sprang up in Chinese communities throughout the country, including San Antonio's CWRASA.
The first 16 pages of the book share the founding story of the CWRASA, which began its work just after the outbreak of the war following the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. On August 2, 1937 five smaller relief groups in San Antonio met to form the organization which held its first general meeting on August 15th where it elected an executive committee. This part of the book also documents the CWRASA's periodic fundraising drives and the amounts raised are noted. It also mentions that the money came from just 340 people, some of whom were out of work or indigent. This section also contains the CWRASA's charter and articles of organization, as well as its rules. A list of officers is also found here and includes a log of those officers' contributions.
The bulk of the book, approximately 88 pages, appears to be a list of donors and the amounts contributed. This list is an invaluable resource with named contributions ranging from as little as one dollar to a high of five hundred dollars. At a minimum, it provides documentation of the Chinese population and businesses in San Antonio at the time. It also divulges a wealth of data from which economic inferences can be drawn. It further shows the support of the larger San Antonio community, with one entire page written in English showing contributions from at least 34 people and businesses who were not Chinese. According to Mark Lai, by the end of this fundraising drive, San Antonio ranked 10th in a list of the 22 cities or areas with the largest amount of contributions collected by China war relief associations in the United States with $373,973.
Any Chinese texts printed in Texas during this time frame and earlier are rarely seen due to the small Chinese population and other factors affecting their survival. The Chinese population in all of Texas as of 1930 was 703 and by 1940, a little over 1,000. In San Antonio, there were 63 Chinese as of the 1910 census, and the 283 listed in the 1920 census gave San Antonio the largest Chinese community in Texas. According to Irwin A. Tang in “Asian Texans. Our Histories and Our Lives,” (Self Published, 2018), by the time of the printing of this book, the Chinese community in San Antonio was growing rapidly: “by 1940 the Chinese community had grown larger and more complex . . . by the mid-1940s, the Chinese ran over one hundred grocery stores . . . and restaurants throughout [San Antonio].”
Exceptionally rare, with nothing similar in OCLC. A crucial resource to better understand the late 1930s Chinese population of San Antonio, its economic and political organizing, and its relatively explosive growth during this period. Item #5153