Seid Chee

Seid Chee. Anacortes Museum & Maritime Heritage Center.

Anacortes on Fidalgo Island in Washington state had a rapidly growing canning industry that started in 1893 and then the last cannery closed there in 1999. Both salmon and cod were processed in the canneries on the island.  At the peak of the industry, there were 11 canneries there. Seid Chee was a Chinese labor contractor and hired laborers to work in the salmon canneries in Anacortes in the early 1900s. He also supervised them as well. There are records that at one point, he did live in Portland, Oregon.

It is very interesting to see an actual Chinese labor contract from the 1921 season which shows the wages at the time for a month’s pay in the cannery. The highest paid laborer was the main butcherer and is listed on the contract using the derogatory term “Iron Chink Man.” This worker earned 56 cents an hour at the time where minimum wage was less than 30 cents an hour.

Seid Chee’s Chinese Labor Contract for the 1921 canning season. Anacortes Museum & Maritime Heritage Center.

References:

Anacortes Museum & Maritime Heritage Center. SEID, Chee | Anacortes Museum (pastperfectonline.com)

Chinese in Northwest America Research Committee (CINARC). Business (cinarc.org)

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