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Apr 17, 2008

Job Ads -- Durham Morning Herald, 1 Apr 1947


I've long wondered how Asians/Asian-Americans got on in the Jim Crow South, but I've not had much luck searching the internet, and I've only now started scanning through old Durham newspaper indexes and issues.

The Durham Morning Herald hardbound index that spans ~1930 to ~1960 offers nil for these index terms: Japanese, Oriental, Asian and Chinese.  If there were any Asians in Durham back then, you wouldn't know it from the index.


I did see some interesting headlines on black/white relations in the 1 April 1947 edition ("Durham committee on Negro affairs again seeking to put a representative on the city board of education"), so I picked up that microfiche reel for a read.

Wandering elsewhere in that edition, I spotted this set of classified ads with the interesting gender/race specifics. (Question: are today's employers looking for much different?). 

Only later did I notice the dishwasher job at an "Oriental restaurant" at 118 E. Parrish St.  I wonder what it was like? Endangered Durham has a blog about the block it was on: 100 E. Parrish St. block (south).

12:52 AM in Destination Durham, History | Permalink


Thanks for the link Phil. While that's been a tough block to document, I do have more information than is currently there. The "Oriental Restaurant" was Durham's first Chinese restaurant - described as follows in 1951:

"THE ORIENTAL. Chinese and American restaurant. 116 E. Parrish St., is one of the better eating establishments in Durham. Air-conditioned for year-round customer comfort, it is modern in every respect. The Oriental was established here in 1938 and is operated by Der Wo. Sea foods [sic] and steaks are featured."

Posted by: GK | Apr 17, 2008 5:44:03 AM

I do think this still happens, though not necessarily in the same exact way as it used to. I was in a meeting recently where a woman announced her agency was looking for someone to coordinate a new gang-prevention program. She unabashedly listed off that they were looking for a Latino man. The other people around the table from her agency quickly scolded her. I think that sometimes, in some cases, there will be a job candidate who by nature of their background and culture will be a better candidate. It makes sense to me that if they're looking for someone to run a program aimed at keeping young Latino males out of gangs that a Latino man will be the best candidate. But you can't say that.

I also see it all the time with organizations looking to make their board (or staff, whatever) more diverse. In this case, I'd argue that it's a positive force, but it's still looking for someone to fill a spot because of their race, ethnicity or gender.

Posted by: stew | Apr 17, 2008 7:21:21 AM

FYI -- that old Herald Sun index was done by the Perkins Library at Duke. It's highly selective and indexes pretty much just articles that relate to Duke. If you come across a better indexing/researching system for old HS articles, I'd love to hear it, as I too am doing some research in the older stuff.

Posted by: Phillip | Apr 18, 2008 3:41:21 PM

I think The Oriental was still the only Chinese restaurant in Durham in the mid-60's. We ate there frequently until urban renewal got it. The food was wonderful.

Posted by: M.K. | Apr 19, 2008 7:03:40 AM