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Meet our remarkable heroine, who risked her life to rescue 3,000 enslaved girls and women and brought down the Chinese slave trade in the U.S. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on July 26, 2010.

Meet our remarkable heroine, who risked her life to rescue 3,000 enslaved girls and women and brought down the Chinese slave trade in the U.S.

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About this project


If you already know about Donaldina Cameron, then you will understand why we want to write a book about her.

If you've never heard of Donaldina Cameron, then we really want to introduce you!

In 1895, a young Scottish-American woman moved into San Francisco's Chinatown to help at a mission home for orphans and women rescued from slavery and forced prostitution. She planned to stay for a year. She stayed for decades. Donaldina Cameron barged into brothels and uncovered hidden trap doors to find the terrified teenage girls held behind them. She stood up to threats from the gangs who made money from trafficking in Chinese slavery. She raised hundreds of girls in the mission house, wiping away tears, giving in to requests for midnight snacks, and gradually training previous enslaved young women to live on their own. She advocated in the courts on their behalf. Racism and injustice towards Chinese living in the U.S. was terrible. Donaldina Cameron labored to change public perceptions and policy. She was a courageous, compassionate zealot who is credited with rescuing some 3,000 people from slavery and breaking the back of the Chinese slave trade in the U.S.


Donaldina Cameron was a remarkable woman, and the story of her life is compelling and fascinating. It's also timely. There are an estimated 27 million people living as slaves today. In West and Central Africa, 200,000 children are sold every year. In India, children are kidnapped from their villages when they are as young as five years old then held captive in locked rooms and forced to weave on looms. The U.S. is a destination country for thousands of men, women, and children smuggled from Mexico, South and East Asia, Central America, Africa, and Europe for sexual and labor exploitation. Around the world, uncounted girls and young women are abducted or tricked into forced prostitution, where they are brutalized and shamed and often die young.

We hope that by telling Donaldina Cameron's story, we might play a small part in inspiring a new generation of fierce and compassionate women and men - and teens! - to fight for the release of fellow humans from lives of hopeless bondage. We hope that by supporting this project, you also know the satisfaction of doing something to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves.


Summer 2010: Research. The most important part of this (if you help us!) will be a trip to San Francisco in August. (We live in the midwest, so this costs some money.) The Presbyterian Mission House, now called Cameron House, still stands in San Francisco's Chinatown and actively serves Asian-American immigrants. Cameron House and San Francisco historical museums have many primary documents that will help us do an excellent job with this project.

School year 2010/2011: Write. Kathryn's high school is working with us; she will pursue this as an independent study with the coaching of history and English teachers.

Summer 2011-Spring 2012: Revise and look for a publishing home. Polish and edit and publish! We plan for the book to be released by the time of Kathryn's high school graduation in June 2012.


First, we will strive to craft an excellently written book. We are seeking newspapers of the time, and photos, and letters and journals, and will try to interview descendants of some of the girls rescued by Donaldina Cameron. We want to create an accurate historical picture of a time and place in our country's history, and a lively narrative about a woman who lived in that history. We want this book to be mesmerizing and inspiring. We want to share precious stories with skillful use of the English language.

Second, Donaldina Cameron's remarkable courage, tenacity, and love cannot be separated from the vitality of her Christian faith. This will by necessity be evident in the book. If you are uncomfortable with this connection, you may not want to support this project.

THANK YOU FOR READING! We are eager to introduce you to our heroine!


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  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    4 backers

    We'll send you a postcard from San Francisco's Chinatown telling you about our research progress.

  • You selected
    Pledge $40 or more

    13 backers

    A signed copy of the book as soon as it's released...and a postcard from San Francisco's Chinatown.

  • You selected
    Pledge $80 or more

    7 backers

    We'll choose for you a surprise gift created by a woman who has been freed from slavery. Proceeds from this gift will support a non-profit organization committed to helping women re-build their lives after slavery. We'll also send a signed copy of the book and a postcard from Chinatown.

  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    6 backers

    We'd like to publicly thank you in the acknowledgements of the book. (We'd also like to send you a postcard, a signed copy of the book, and a gift made by a freed slave.)

Funding period

- (49 days)