Choy Ling Hee Troupe – hair-raising and daring feats

Choy Ling Hee Troupe photo
“Choy Ling Hee Troupe newspaper article, photo, and ad, 1919” Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Chow You Chun file, Seattle, Box1260, Case 36171/1-1.

Choy Ling Hee Troupe articleChoy Ling Hee Troupe Ad
[Many Chinese actors and performers entered the U.S. in the late 1880s through the early 1920s under the Section 6 Traveler section of the Chinese Exclusion Act. They were usually performing in theatres, circuses and world fairs and were allowed to stay up to one year. The manager of the troupe would obtain a bond typically for $500 for each member. If a troupe member did not return to China on the expected date the bond amount was forfeited.]
The Choy Ling Hee Troupe was under contract with the Ringling Brothers Circus for five years. The five members of the troupe were Chou You Chun, Mon Gow, Choy Ten, Yah Ching and Choy Wan. The Choy Ling Hee Troupe of Chinese jugglers and magicians was an exception to the usual procedure. Their bonds were renewed annually.
When the circus wasn’t active the troupe worked on the Hippodrome Circuit and played in theatres throughout California, Kansas and other places. The troupe got in trouble because they left the U.S. without notifying immigration authorities. In January 1919 Mr. Edward B. Kellie, manager of the Hippodrome Circuit, told the troupe and the eight white members to go to Vancouver, British Columbia for a performance at the Columbia Theatre, so the troupe went. They didn’t realize that they had to notify the local Immigration authorities before they could travel between the U.S. and Canada. After a brief interrogation their re-entry into Seattle was approved.
[The article, ad, and photo from The Post-Intelligencer, Seattle, Sunday edition, 5 January 1919, page 7 are included in the file.]

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