Life Story: Edith Maude Eaton, aka Sui Sin Far (1865-1914)

Fostering Cultural Understanding through Writing

The story of a half-Chinese, half-British immigrant who used her talent as a writer to raise awareness about the unfair treatment of Chinese Americans in the era of Exclusion.

An image of Edith Maude Eaton holding a book. She is seated at a table and wearing a long, dark, dress.
Edith Maude Eaton (aka Sui Sin Far)

Edith Maude Eaton. Courtesy of Simon Fraser University, image from the private collection of Diana Birchall, granddaughter of Winnifred Eaton.

Suggested Activities

  • Lesson Plan: In this lesson designed for fourth grade, students will learn about the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. They will also consider the life story of Edith Maude Eaton, and how she raised awareness about the unfair treatment of Chinese Americans in the era of Exclusion.
  • Combine Edith’s life story with the life stories of Ida B. WellsElizabeth Cochrane (aka Nellie Bly), and Jovita Idar Juárez, all of whom used a career in journalism to advocate for social reform.
  • Read this life story and that of Zitkala-Sa. Both women had white fathers and non-white mothers. How were their views of the world and the opportunities afforded to them shaped by their mixed-race heritage?
  • Connect this life story to the life story of Soto Shee in the Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion curriculum, a Chinese immigrant mother who experienced the very challenges Edith described in her writing. How did each woman experience life in the United States as a person of Chinese descent? How were their lives shaped by immigration policy?
  • Combine Edith’s life story with a reading of one of her most famous works, In the Land of the Free.” Explore Edith’s depiction of a Chinese immigrant mother and the way in which she criticizes the American government’s policies through this short narrative.



New-York Historical Society Curriculum Library Connections

Source Notes