Clara Elizabeth Chan Lee

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Clara Elizabeth Chan Lee
Clara Elizabeth Chan Lee voting in 1911 (cropped).jpg
BornOctober 21, 1886
DiedOctober 5, 1993

Clara Elizabeth Chan Lee (October 21, 1886 – October 5, 1993) was the first Chinese American woman to register to vote in the United States. She registered to vote on November 8, 1911 in California following the passage of Proposition 4 in California, nine years before the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.


Clara Elizabeth (Yee Miew) Chan was born October 21, 1886 in Portland Oregon. She was the daughter of the Methodist Rev. Chan Hon Fun (Chan Hon Fan) and Ow Muck Gay.[1] The Rev. Chan Hon Fun was the pastor of the Chinese Community Methodist Church of Oakland in Oakland Chinatown from 1900 to 1909.

She was married to Charles Goodall Lee, the first licensed Chinese American dentist in the United States.[2]

Clara registered to vote at the Alameda County courthouse on November 8, 1911.[3]

Clara Elizabeth Chan Lee registering in 1911, together with Emma Tom Leung (left), while their husbands stand behind them.

Clara was a founder of the Chinese Women's Jeleab (self reliance) Association, created in 1913.[4] The association promoted women's rights in both the U.S. and China. She was a member of the YWCA and the Fidelis Coterie club.[1]

Clara died October 5, 1993 in Alameda, California and is interred in Oakland.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Young, Judy (1995). Unbound feet : a social history of Chinese women in San Francisco. University of California Press. ISBN 0520088670.
  2. ^ "Clara Elizabeth and Charles Goodall Lee". Chinese Community United Methodist Church. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  3. ^ Yu, Christina. "Chinese American Citizens Alliance -- Oakland Lodge". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  4. ^ Keller, Rosemary Skinner (2006). Encyclopedia of women and religion in North America, Vol. 1. Indiana University Press. p. 500. ISBN 0253346851.

Further reading[edit]