TYPE: Clothing
COMPONENTS: Woven straw, matting, and bamboo.
NOTES: Not surprisingly, few relics of the Chinese experience in the American West survive. Outside of a few museum collections, this may be one of the only "coolie" hats with bonafide Western provenance in existence. This unusual item comes from a prominent Arizona author and collector, who acquired it at the liquidation auction of the Wells Fargo Museum in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1986. It dates to the period of Tombstone's heyday, as well as the building of the southern transcontinental railroad, which crossed Arizona not far from Tombstone. We feel confident that it has a Western origin, and it may have seen use in the Tombstone mines. Chinese immigrants -- coolies in the parlance of the times -- were a major, though largely overlooked, factor in the development of the west, often performing the hardest work under the worst conditions, deep in the mines or in the blistering sun, for a fraction of the pay demanded by white labor. On top of that, they were the victims of prejudice and racism..
ITEM ID: 3677
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Arizona Chinese Mine or Railroad Worker’s Hat Tombstone

Decade: 1880s
Century: 19th (1801-1900)
Notes: c. 1880

Conical Asian or “coolie” hat, worn by a Chinese mine or railroad worker, Arizona.