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Certificate of naturalization issued by the colony of Victoria to Ah Chee of Bethanga, no 256

Date: 1882
Dimensions:
Overall: 443 x 524 x 21 mm, 2.5 kg
Medium: Printed and handwritten ink on parchment/vellum, with applied wafer seal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Purchased with USA Bicentennial Gift funds
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Certificate
Object No: 00027322
Place Manufactured:Melbourne

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    Description
    This certificate of citizenship was issued to Ah Chee of Bethanga who was active around the gold diggings in Victoria. It is certificate number 1692. Like many Chinese who stayed in Australia Ah Chee created a new life as a market gardener and started his own business. The vast majority of Chinese labourers who worked on the gold fields returned to China, while a smaller percent chose to stay and be naturalized in Australia.
    SignificanceThis rare certificate is representative of Chinese migration to Australia during the 1800s and especially during the decade of the gold rush in the 1850s. It illustrates the changing demographics of the Australian colony.
    HistoryDuring the 1800s the discovery of gold in California and Australia instigated the migration and movement of many people. The decade of the gold rush in the 1850s saw tens of thousands of miners criss-crossing the Pacific Ocean between Australia and America. A $20 one-way ticket bought the traveller a bunk and space for one trunk. The trip between Sydney and San Francisco took about six weeks.

    The Chinese originally came to Australia to fill the demand for much needed farm labour. They too flocked to the diggings along with everyone else and many returned to China taking their wealth with them. Other Chinese people stayed and developed businesses or market gardens, often bringing their families out to join them or marrying within the wider colonial population.

    When gold was plentiful in the miners diggings the Chinese population was left alone. However, as gold became harder to find, resentment and open aggression set in. In 1861 Chinese miners were attacked at Lambing Flat near Young, New South Wales. This incident prompted the government to restrict the number of Chinese immigrants- in what was the beginning of a 'white Australia' policy.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Certificate of naturalization issued by the colony of Victoria to Ah Chee of Bethanga, No 256

    Primary title: Certificate of naturalization issued by the colony of Victoria to Ah Chee of Bethanga, no 256

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