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Sixth graders uncover the mystery of a Chinese Tombstone

This film is a great way to introduce Asian American history to elementary children and to inspire similar history research projects.

Filmed in Madera, California, and Kaiping, China, this is a true story of how a 6th grade class rescued a 70 year-old Chinese burial ground from historical oblivion and discovered a living relative in China of a man buried there. As part of a class project, students from James Monroe Elementary School in Madera researched the mysterious tombstones in their town and documented they were an old Chinese burial ground, dating back to the Gold Rush era. After studying land deeds, death certificates and period newspapers, the students published a book called "The Forgotten Field", which helped raise local awareness and moved the town to preserve and restore the old cemetery site.

Miraculously, the students efforts led to the discovery in Kaiping, China, of the elderly son of one of the men buried in the cemetery, a father not heard from for seven decades. In the house that the father's American wages helped to build in China, the grateful and amazed son and his children and grandchildren are presented with a photo of their lost patriarch's tombstone.

17 Minutes • Documentary • Grades 3 - 6
Produced, Written and Directed by Loni Ding
, 1996

Screened at:
Denver International Film Festival

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