An engraving of Afong Moy. Referred to as “the first Chinese woman to arrive in America”, Moy served as a cultural bridge between China and the United States, including in private and among elites, but was eventually relegated to little more than a sensationalised caricature resulting from racial and ethnic tensions.

From cultural prop to circus freak: the first Chinese woman in US

  • Afong Moy was brought to the US in 1834 to help sell Chinese goods to an eager American middle class, writes historian Nancy E. Davis
  • She met president Andrew Jackson and served as a cultural bridge, but ended up in a circus sideshow being mocked for her differences
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An engraving of Afong Moy. Referred to as “the first Chinese woman to arrive in America”, Moy served as a cultural bridge between China and the United States, including in private and among elites, but was eventually relegated to little more than a sensationalised caricature resulting from racial and ethnic tensions.
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