Where are these ladies from the 1920s now? Or these ladies from, most likely, the 1950s?
Unless these ladies are your relatives (or you!), there is probably only one person who knows where they are today…and that would be Annelise Heinz.
…and Annelise Heinz is proving that Mah Jongg is the “science” part of history as she earns her PhD from Stanford University!
I had the pleasure of speaking at length with Annelise the other evening and, with her permission, I can share her scholarly project with you:
Annelise is “a PhD Candidate in history at Stanford who is writing the first scholarly history of Mah Jongg in the United States from the 1920s-1960s, examining how a Chinese game also became a tool Americans used to navigate modernity, build communities, and create ethnic identities. She has interviewed over fifty people as part of her research and is always looking for folks who remember playing in the 1930s-1950s, especially! As well as personal photographs and other vintage memorabilia… she is also the proud owner of her own small collection of three sets: a Chinese Bakelite set from the late 1930s or early 1940s, an AP Games set from the same era, and a Royal Depth Control Catalin set from the 1950s — the latter two thanks to Toby Salk.”
As Annelise wrote to me in a subsequent email summing up what she is doing: “I am writing a history of mahjong in America from the 1920s through the 1960s. I welcome stories from those who remember seeing the game before 1980 — especially from those who played in the 1930s-early 1960s.
I am interested in hearing about how individuals learned the game, their earliest memories of mahjong, how long and where they have played, with whom, and if the game played a role in their or their family’s lives. (If you — or your mother — did NOT play mahjong because of any particular negative association, I want to hear from you, too!) I would also greatly appreciate seeing any personal photos or other memorabilia.”
So, if you fit into any of the categories outlined above, or know of someone who fits these descriptions, and would like to be a part of Annelise’s work, please send your contact information and a brief description to Annelise Heinz at firstname.lastname@example.org. She can send you a list of questions over email, or you can speak over the phone with her.
Annelise’s website is: www.amheinz.org.
Snail mail can be sent to:
c/o Department of History
Stanford, CA 94305.