My cousin Jeffrey L. Staley published a very special book in 2018 titled "Gum Moon." This historical fiction novel of San Francisco Chinatown was based upon events about our Chinese family history - The coming of age story of my great-grandmother, Maud Lai Don, a woman I never knew.

Maud, my "Tai-Po" was one of many "Gum Moon" orphan girls who was rescued by the Asian Women's Residence Center home in San Francisco Chinatown in 1898. Gum Moon (Cantonese for "Gold Door" or "Golden Gate" was a remarkable home to many young immigrant Asian girls who were saved from a life of debt slavery, violence, and sexual abuse in San Francisco during the late 1800's to early 1900's. 

Her story is a unique one, and is something our family is very moved by. We only recently learned about what happened to Maud and the mysterious circumstances of her young life thanks to Jeffrey's incredible dedication and research on this subject. It's not an easy read, but one which makes a person take pause to consider the struggles and injustices of history and one's ancestors. 

I met Jeffrey face to face for the first time in Berkeley while on his Bay Area book tour for "Gum Moon." Myself being a direct living descendant of Maud's, I felt inspired to create this four-color plate etching as a personal tribute while I was completing my certificate in Printmaking Arts at Diablo Valley College in 2019. This etching is based on one of the only known photographed postcards we have of Maud in traditional Chinese attire taken in 1902. In the image, Maud Lai is the young girl who stands on the left, and another young orphan named Josephine stands on the right. 

Gum Moon Women's Residence Center still stands today in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown. Since 1868, this incredible non-profit has provided services and housing to underserved women and children from the AAPI community helping them build better futures for themselves. You can read more about the organization HERE...

Kelly and Jeffrey, The Bay Area Book Festival, Berkeley 2019

The slideshow features images of the "Gum Moon Girls" etchings being created at Diablo Valley College.


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