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The Japanese asked for very little relief, in part because many had difficulty in speaking English, but more generally because all were aware of the anti-Japanese feeling of a small but aggressive part of the community; this in spite of the fact that Japan contributed directly to the local [relief] committee and through the American National Red Cross nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

On April 20, independent relief associations were formed by Japanese residents in San Francisco and Oakland, but on the same day they wisely united under the name Japanese Relief Association to care for practically all their fellow countrymen.

The Japanese Relief Association estimated the number of their countrymen made destitute by the fire to be over 10,000, which is about 3 percent of the total number of persons made dependent for short or long periods of time.

On July 6, 1906, not over 100 Japanese were receiving assistance from the Relief and Red Cross Funds. Of these about 50 were receiving shelter only, in Lafayette Square, and 50 were receiving help at relief stations. That is, the Japanese constituted not more than one-half of one percent of the bread line and about a quarter of one percent of the population of the official camps. Even at the beginning the number receiving help from the Red Cross Funds was probably not much higher. The Relief Survey estimates that the total value of all kinds furnished by the army and the Finance Committee to the Japanese did not exceed $3,000. Among the 30,000 or more persons who applied for rehabilitation, there was not one Japanese. Their own relief association, assisted by Japanese throughout the state, within ten days after the disaster, sent between 7,000 and 8,000 of them to places outside of San Francisco. On July 6 some of these had returned and the number of Japanese refugees in the city was estimated by the association to be 4,000, two hundred of whom it was supplying with provisions.

China contributed $40,000 to the San Francisco Relief and Red Cross Funds for the general work of relief.

There is not much information available about the Chinese. They probably received altogether more food than the Japanese and they certainly received more in the way of shelter, yet the total value of all aid given these was relatively insignificant. Like the Japanese, and for the same reasons, they did not ask for much. At the beginning a separate camp was established for them, – Number 3, in the Presidio reservation. The population of this camp on May 8, 1906, was 186. Later when cottages were built in Portsmouth Square, on the border of Chinatown, 37 out of the 153 cottages were assigned to Chinese. Not over 140 applications for rehabilitation were made by Chinese. About half of the number was assisted at an average expenditure of about $70. Nearly all these cases were brought to the notice of the Committee by social workers, as only a few Chinese applied voluntarily for relief. Ten thousand dollars is a liberal estimate of the value of relief given to the Chinese.

From: San Francisco Relief Survey:
The Organization and Methods of Relief Used After the Earthquake and Fire of April 18, 1906

©1913 The Russell Sage Foundation