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Webinar For K-12 Educators: Robert Wells Discusses "Voices From The Bottom Of The South China Sea" (Wednesday, March 27, 2024)

Session(s) date

Session(s) date: 
Wednesday, March 27, 2024 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Voices From The Bottom Of The South China Sea tells us a story that reveals the early links between U.S. and China.  President Abraham Lincoln authorized the building of massive steamships to link the U.S. and Asia. Chinese laborers came to the U.S. to earn money and in 1874 hundreds were on their way back home when their ship sank off the China coast. In this deeply researched book, Wells tells of the recruitment of workers, their lives in the American West, the rise of anti-Chinese sentiment, the tragedy that befell them on their return journey and salvage operations. Join author and retired U.S. Navy Captain Robert Wells in discussing this vital story of the contribution Chinese made to the building of America and the sad end of hundreds of lives aboard the world's largest ship. Wells shares useful primary text and visual sources that can be used with students.

  • K-12 Educators (currently located in the U.S) selected for this webinar will receive a complimentary copy of Voices From The Bottom Of The South China Sea
  • Receive a certificate listing the contact hours of this webinar from the U.S.-China Institute.
  • California Council for the Social Studies Conference participants can receive a complimentary book to be mailed to you.

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This program is offered in conjunction with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia and is supported by a grant from the Freeman Foundation.


Voices From The Bottom Of The South China Sea is about a remarkable yet little known story of early links between the U.S. and China. Wells unpacks the massive effort to bring Chinese labor to work in the U.S. and the tragic sinking of an American ship carrying hundreds back home to China. 

Key Topics Covered:

  • Geography
  • Economics and trade 
  • Chinese Emigration 
  • Chinese Exclusion 
  • Building the Railroads 
  • Creation of Chinatowns in California 
  • Deep sea treasure recovery


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