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The First Asian Americans
"As presented in the excellent PBS documentary series Ancestors in the Americas, the first Asians to come to the western hemisphere were Chinese Filipinos who settled in Mexico. Eventually, Filipino sailors were the first to settle in the U.S. around 1750 in what would later be Louisiana. Later around 1840, to make up for the shortage of slaves from Africa, the British and Spanish brought over slaves or "coolies" from China, India, and the Philippines to islands in the Caribbean, Peru, Ecuador, and other countries in South America...."
Asian Americans -- from CQ Researcher
Overview, background information, chronology, etc, Please note that the information here are not frequently updated
Asian Americans: Gold Rush Era to 1890s
"Filipino sailors came to California with Spanish explorations as early as 1587, arriving in Morro Bay. And according to Eloisa Gomez Borah, “Manila men were reported to have been the major population” of one of the earliest gold camps in Mariposa County. Most of the Asian miners and immigrants during the Gold Rush Era, however, were Chinese." -- curated and written by the University of California in 2005 as part of the California Cultures project.
The Transcontinental Railroad and the Asian-American Story
The Transcontinental Railroad and the Asian-American Story | National Postal Museum. https://postalmuseum.si.edu/the-transcontinental-railroad-and-the-asian-american-story. Accessed 7 Apr. 2021.
The 1965 Immigration Act and the Gaslighting of East Asians
“The 1965 Immigration Act and the Gaslighting of East Asians.” American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, 16 Nov. 2020, http://www.jgspl.org/the-1965-immigration-act-and-the-gaslighting-of-east-asians/.
The Academic Side of Asian American History
This "is a reprint of an article (edited for length) entitled "Asian American History's Overdue Emergence" by Roger Daniels (see credit at the bottom of the article). Although it is intended for an academic audience, it nicely details the development of Asian American history as an academic discipline. It also stresses a point that is becoming increasingly important in the study of race and ethnicity these days. That is, while it's important to understand what has been done to Asian Americans throughout U.S. history, let's also focus on and recognize what Asian American have done and are doing to help influence and shape the institutions of this country."
Ulysses S. Grant, Chinese Immigration, and the Page Act of 1875
"First, it authorized the use of federal agents at immigration ports to search and question “any subject of China, Japan, or any Oriental country” to determine if that person had come “without their free and voluntary consent, for the purpose of holding them to a term of service." If agents suspected that the person had come involuntarily to engage in “lewd and immoral purposes” while in the U.S., they could be expelled. Second, it effectively banned the immigration of Chinese women by portraying most of them as arriving in the U.S. solely to work as prostitutes. Finally, the act banned people who had been convicted of felonies in their home country from immigrating to the United States."
Reckoning with Asian America
"It took the mass murder of six Asian women in Atlanta last week to draw national attention to what Asian Americans have been warning about since the wake of the pandemic: anti-Asian violence. The incident reflects an under-recognized history of anti-Asian violence and discrimination in this country that dates back more than 150 years. This needs to change. Asian Americans must become central to the discourse on race in America. For the country to “care” about the outcry by Asian Americans, the public needs to understand how America got to this point."
Notable Asian Americans in Untied States History
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Bangladeshi and Pakistani American History
Bangladeshi and Pakistani Americans
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Bangladeshi and Pakistani American communities, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Bangladeshi Americans Migration History
"As the nation-state of Bangladesh did not come into existence until 1971, there were no Bangladeshi immigrants per se to the United States until after that time. However, immigrants from the Bengali region to America have been arriving since 1887. Their numbers were small, in part because of the discriminatory immigration laws that allowed citizenship only to white Caucasians. These immigrants included dissident student activists, both Hindu and Muslim, who fled to the United States after the partition of Bengal in 1905 at the hands of British viceroy George Lord Curzon. Small groups of these male students settled on the West Coast, in San Francisco, Oregon, and Washington. Such student immigrants were from both West and East Bengal and numbered only in the hundreds."
Pakistani American Migration History
"Since Pakistan only came into existence in 1947, any documentation of the life of Pakistani Americans can technically only commence from that year. However, it should be noted that Muslim immigrants from India and the region that is now Pakistan entered the United States as early as the eighteenth century, working alongside their Hindu or Sikh brethren in agriculture, logging, and mining in the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington."
Burmese American History
"It was not until after 1962 that the Burmese began to immigrate to the United States. The Immigration Act of 1924 was passed primarily to exclude Asian immigrants. Between 1924 and 1965, there was little Asian immigration to the United States. The Immigration Act of 1965 took off the quota cap imposed by the 1924 law and allowed for a much greater volume of Asian immigrants. Burmese immigration began after military rule was established in 1962 by Ne Win. Professors and students fled Myanmar when the government shut down the universities, and doctors and other professionals came to the United States to pursue better economic opportunities."
Cambodian American History
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Cambodian American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Cambodian Americans Migration History
"Cambodians did not begin migrating to the United States in large numbers until 1979. After the Vietnam War—which also ravaged Cambodia—and the takeover of Cambodia by the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, refugees began fleeing the country, seeking asylum in Thailand. When American journalists sent filmed reports of starving Cambodian refugees back to the United States and other countries in the West, Americans and Europeans responded by opening their doors to these immigrants."
Chinese American History
Early Chinese Immigration And Labor
"A small group of Chinese reached the Hawaiian Islands as early as 1789, about eleven years after Captain James Cook first landed there. Most of those who migrated to Hawaii in the early years came from the two Chinese southern provinces of Guangdong and Fujian. Some of them were men skilled at sugar making. Beginning in 1852, Chinese contract laborers were recruited to work on sugar plantations, joined by other laborers who paid their own way. Between 1852 and the end of the nineteenth century, about 50,000 Chinese landed in Hawaii.
Chinese immigrants arrived in California shortly before the gold rush in 1849. The vast majority of them came from Guangdong. By the time the United States enacted the CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT in 1882, about 125,000 Chinese lived in the United States; the majority of them resided on the West Coast. (About 375,000 Chinese entries had been recorded by 1882, but this figure also includes multiple entries by the same individuals.) Unlike the contract laborers who went to Hawaii, the Chinese who came to California during the gold rush were mostly independent laborers or entrepreneurs. Between 1865 and 1867 the Central Pacific Railroad Company hired more than 10,000 Chinese, many of them former miners, to build the western half of the first transcontinental railroad. The Chinese performed both unskilled and skilled tasks, but their wages were considerably lower than those of white workers. In the winter of 1867, avalanches and harsh weather claimed the lives of many Chinese workers."
Industrialization, Class, and Race; Chinese and the Anti-Chinese Movement in the Late 19th-Century Northwest
"The economy of the American West was characterized by a dual labor system. Whites occupied the majority of the white-collar and skilled blue-collar positions. They also occupied semi-skilled and unskilled positions, but enjoyed higher rates of mobility out of those kinds of jobs. People of color, on the other hand, occupied in disproportionate numbers the semi-skilled and unskilled positions at the bottom of the economic ladder. These workers—Indians, blacks, and people of Mexican and Asian descent—had fewer chances to escape the lower rungs (although in some cases members of minority groups owned and operated their own businesses). When white workingmen formed into unions in the American West, they often were organizing not only against capital but also against the non-white worker who, in a variety of ways, was perceived as a threat to whites' economic security. In the Pacific Northwest of the 1880s—the very decade when railroads increased the pace of industrialization in the region—these patterns of labor organization and conflict played out against Chinese communities."
Chinese in California 1850 -1925
The website offers a topical approach to the material presented in the Chinese in California digital archive. The resources represented are from The Bancroft Library and The Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley; and The California Historical Library, San Francisco.
Chinese-American Contribution T Transcontinental Railroad
From the Central Pacific Railroad Photographic History Museum,
Forgotten Los Angeles History: The Chinese Massacre of 1871
"The massacre did not result in racial tolerance, in fact, anti-Chinese sentiment increased in the following years. The Anti-Coolie club was formed in 1876, counting many prominent citizens among its members, and the newspapers resumed their editorial attacks against the Chinese. "
The Chinese American Exclusion/Inclusion
"Chinese American: Exclusion/Inclusion chronicles the complex history of the Chinese in America—the challenges of immigration, citizenship, and belonging that shaped both the Chinese American experience and the development of the United States as a nation. Learn more about the first American trade ship to sail for China, the early Chinese laborers hoping to strike it rich on “Gold Mountain,” the passage of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act to limit Chinese immigration and access to citizenship, the experience of multiple generations of Chinese American families in the twentieth century…and see how this history contributed to shaping American society." -- from the New-York Historical Society.
Chinese Exclusion Act Resources
Video, image gallery, timelline, notable quotes, and resources from the Chinese Historical Society.
The Chinese Exclusion Example: Race, Immigration, and American Gatekeeping, 1882-1924
"Defining and historicizing America's gatekeeping tradition clearly begins with Chinese immigration in the American West during the late nineteenth century. While Andrew Gyory has persuasively argued that the adoption of the anti-Chinese movement by national partisan politicians led to the actual passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, it was in California in the 1870s that politicians and anti-Chinese activists first began to talk about "closing America's gates" for the first time. Explicit in the arguments for Chinese exclusion were several elements that would become the foundation of American gatekeeping ideology: racializing Chinese immigrants as permanently alien, threatening, and inferior on the basis of their race, culture, labor, and aberrant gender relations; containing the danger they represented by limiting economic and geographical mobility as well as barring them from naturalized citizenship through local, state, and federal laws and action; and lastly, protecting the nation from both further immigrant incursions and dangerous immigrants already in the United States by using the power of the state to legalize the modes and processes of exclusion, restriction, surveillance, and deportation."
Rock Springs Massacre in Sept. 2, 1885:
One of the worst outbreaks of anti-Chinese violence occurred at Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1885...
"On Sept. 2, 1885, 150 white coal miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming, brutally attacked the Chinese workers, killing 28, wounding 15 others, and driving several hundred more out of town." -- A Project of the Wyoming State Historical Society.
Anti-Chinese hysteria in 1885-1886
Harper’s Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast depicts the gruesome violence in the American West resulting from the eruption of anti-Chinese hysteria in 1885-1886. Justice wields her mighty sword, as her scales demand the hanging of the perpetrators to avenge the deaths of the Chinese-immigrant victims. In the caption, the mayor of Portland, Oregon, calls for law and order to prevail against the "disreputable outlaws" who participated in the bloodbath.
'Chinese Demons': the violent articulation of Chinese otherness and interracial sexuality in the U.S. Midwest, 1885-1889
"The 1880's witnessed the worst of the 19th century waves of anti-chinese violence in the United States. While most of these incidents occurred in the West, there were a few outbreaks east of the Mississippi River. Possibly the largest occurred in the Midwest--in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In March of 1889, that city saw four days of protest and one day of rioting against its Chinese laundry-men. Sparking this city-wide disturbance were allegations of sexual misconduct between two Chinese and a number of underaged white females. Recovering this forgotten episode gives historians an analytic frame by which to trace the intersection of anti-Chinese violence, interracial sexuality, and the formation of urban girl cultures in the late nineteenth century."
"Justice For The Chinese"
"On March 27, 1886, Harper's Weekly featured a cartoon about anti-Chinese violence."
"A most daring outrage": murders at Chinese Massacre Cove, 1887
"...as many as thirty-four Chinese miners were massacred by a gang of seven horse thieves in one or more attacks in Hells Canyon, beginning on May 25,1887. Some of the victims were apparently shot down from the cliffs; others were slaughtered by attackers along the river. The killers threw the bodies into the river and fled with the miners' gold, estimated at between $4,000 and $5,000.
Island of Immortals: Chinese Immigrants and the Angel Island Immigration Station
"In the year 1882, a key date in American immigration history, the first Chinese exclusion law was passed following years of domestic anti-Chinese agitation. Marking a basic change in U.S. immigration policy, the law declared immigration to be no longer free and un-restricted, and the Chinese were given the dubious honor of being the first racial group whose entry to the country was thus limited."
Filipino American History
Filipino Settlements in the United States
Introduction from Yen Le Espiritu 's book Filipino American Lives.
Filipino American Migration History
Filipino arrivals in the Territory of Hawaii and the United States mainland came in three waves. The earliest, from 1903 to 1935, brought many young men to enroll in American universities and colleges and then return to the Philippines. Also during this time, plantation workers arrived to work in Hawaii."
The Igorrote [sic] Tribe from the Philippines
"The 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, the 1907 Jamestown Exposition, and the 1909 Alaska-Yukon Pacific Exposition served largely to reinforce popular notions of Filipino inferiority. The displays stressed the “primitivism” of Igorot culture, particularly dog-eating, a common practice in many cultures, and head-hunting. Such practices functioned as gauges of the savagery of the newly conquered peoples of “Uncle Sam’s island domain.”"
Excerpt from the book The Lost Tribe of Coney Island by Claire Prentice
"It was 1905 and the Fililpinos were being put on show in a human zoo at the Luna Park amusement park." This book
is available at Skyline College Library.
The Watsonville Riots
See also Depression Era: 1930s: Watsonville Riots
The Movement to Reverse Philippine Independence
"As U.S. nationals from a colony of the United States, Filipinos could not be excluded along with other Asians. To resolve this problem, exacerbated by fervent anti-Filipino campaigns on the west coast, Congress promised eventual independence to the Philippines in 1945. This change in status allowed Congress to impose an immigration quota of 50 persons per year, effectively ending Filipino immigration."
Hmong American History
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Hmong American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Hmong Americans Migration History
"Hmong Americans first came to the United States in 1975, after the takeover of Vietnam and Laos by leftist regimes. Although some sources claimed that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) promised to resettle the Hmong if they were defeated in the Laos conflict, only 1,000 Hmong were evacuated to the United States in the first year after defeat. Many Hmong fled across the borders of Vietnam and Laos to overcrowded refugee camps in Thailand, where they lived, for months or even years."
Hmong Keeb Kwm: The Hmong Heritage Project
"Who are the Hmong? There is a large presence of a little known Asian group of people called Hmong that reside in Catawba County and the surrounding counties of North Carolina. North Carolina is home to the fourth largest Hmong population in the United States. Hmong, a sub-ethnic group from Southeast Asia have lived in the United States since 1975, as refugees of the Vietnam War."
Indian American History
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Indian American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Asian Indian Americans Migration History
"Asian Indian Americans began migrating to the United States from India in small numbers during the nineteenth century. By 1900 the US census counted 2,050 Asian Indians living in the United States, mostly professional men, merchants, and travelers who settled along the east coast, particularly in New York. Asian Indian students also came to study at American colleges, mostly on the east coast, although a sizeable number attended universities in California by the mid-1910s."
Sikhs in the United States
"The initial influx of Sikhs to the United States, from 1904 to 1923, consisted primarily of individuals who originated in rural Punjab and had agricultural backgrounds but were residing in Canada. They migrated south to escape being targets of violence an discrimination, as evidenced in the Komagata Maru incident...."
The Oak Creek Massacre: Gauging the implications of the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting.
"The article focuses on the implications of the shooting incident at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on August 5, 2012. It states that the event has induced debates regarding the ways of controlling hate crimes. It says that the harassment and discrimination against American Sikhs have increased after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S."
American images of Punjabi immigrants in the early Twentieth Century.
This article explores and contextualizes the formation of anti-South Asian sentiment in the history of anti-immigrant, and specifically anti-Asian, nativist movements in the United States during the early twentieth century. Through an investigation of the activities and written documentation of the Asian Exclusionary League, as well as Congressional proceedings and popular periodicals, it seeks to understand the terms in which wider anti-Asian sentiments were shaped during this period, the influences that shaped them, and the impact these articulations of racism had on South Asian, specifically Sikh, communities in the United States during the first several decades of the twentieth century..."
Bridges Burnt Behind: The Story of Vaishno Das Bagai and Kala Bagai
Vaishno Das Bagai took his own life after he lost his American citizenship as a result of the United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind decision in 1923, which led to the denaturalization of Asian Indian Americans who had earlier successfully applied for and received U.S. citizenship.
Migration History of Indonesian Americans
"Few Indonesians immigrated to the United States prior to the 1950s. In the mid-1950s many Indonesian students came to the United States to study at American universities and colleges. In 1953 the ICA (now USAID) started providing scholarships for medical faculty members of the University of Indonesia to study at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1956 the ICA likewise provided scholarships for the teaching staff of the Bandung Institute of Technology to study at the University of Kentucky.
In the 1960s, when a number of political and ethnic skirmishes arose in Indonesia, several thousand Indonesians, the majority of whom were Chinese Indonesian, came to the United States."
Japanese American History
Japanese Americans -- Migration History
"The first Japanese arrived in America by accident in the early 1800s, swept off course in their fishing boats by powerful currents and shipwrecked. Rescued at sea by US ships, they were brought to America, where they remained because it was illegal at that time to leave or enter Japan. In 1868 a group of about 150 contract laborers secretly left Japan and went to work on the sugar plantations in Hawaii. After suffering mistreatment and harsh working conditions, they were called back to Japan. About one-third returned, while the others chose to stay in Hawaii."
History of Japanese Americans
The second "Asian group to come to the U.S. in large numbers were the Japanese. They initially came to Hawai'i as cheaper replacements for Chinese workers beginning around 1890. .."
Alien land laws
"Alien land laws are most often associated with western states' attempts to limit the presence and permanence of Japanese immigrants from 1913 through the end of World War II by forbidding "aliens ineligible for citizenship" from purchasing, and later from leasing property in the states in which these laws were passed. The total list of states that passed alien land laws or that contained restrictions against aliens ineligible for citizenship owning property in their state constitutions included Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. Alien land laws were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1952."
442nd: Rescue of the Lost Battalion
This is "is an article written by Burt Masao Takeuchi (see credit at the bottom of the article) in which he interviewed members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and those they rescued as they were sent into an incredibly intense and dangerous mission to rescue another U.S. Army regiment that was trapped by the Germans during World War II. The 442nd was composed entirely of Japanese Americans and despite the fact that their families, relatives, and friends were wrongfully imprisoned back in the U.S. just because they were of Japanese ancestry, the 442nd became the most decorated combat unit of its size in the entire U.S. military during World War II."
Japanese American Incarcernation
A short introduction to the history of the exclusion and incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII.
The Interrogation of Frank S. Emi Frank S. Emi
was interrogated about his protest of the draft during Japanese American internment.on March 31, 1944 and was sentenced to eighteen months in a federal penitentiary, See also "Executive Order 9066"..
Korean American History
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Korean American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Korean American Migration History
"The first Koreans arrived in the United States in the early 1900s. A total of 7,226 Korean exiles and laborers immigrated to the United States between January 1903 and July 1907. The exiles were leaders of a failed coup attempt, including So Chaepil, who later changed his name to Philip Jaisohn and became the first Korean American medical doctor; Ahn Chang-ho; Park Yong-man; and Syngman Rhee. These four men became leaders of the Korean American community and helped create a Korean national independence movement in the United States."
Laotian American History
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Laotian American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Laotian American Migration History
:"Prior to 1975 very few Laotians migrated to the United States. After Vietnam and Laos fell to communist forces in 1975, however, thousands of Laotians fled their war-torn homeland and applied for entry to the United States. With the Indochina Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1975, the United States gave Laotians refugee status and helped them relocate to America. At first most of the refugees were government administrators, shopkeepers, and royal army soldiers. Later immigrants tended to be less educated, including farmers and small villagers. Only about 800 Laotian refugees immigrated to the United States in 1975, but the following year brought 10,200. The highest numbers of Laotian refugees entered the United States in the years 1979–1981, totaling about 105,000. Since then Laotian refugee resettlement has continued, but at a slower pace."
Thai Americans Migration History
Thai immigration to America was nearly nonexistent before 1960, when U.S. armed forces began arriving in Thailand during the Vietnam war. After interacting with Americans, Thais became more aware of the possibility for immigration to the United States. By the 1970s, some 5,000 Thais had emigrated to this country, at a ratio of three women to every man. The largest concentration of Thai immigrants can be found in Los Angeles and New York City. These new immigrants consisted of professionals, especially medical doctors and nurses, business entrepreneurs, and wives of men in the U.S. Air Force who had either been stationed in Thailand or had spent their vacations there while on active duty in Southeast Asia.
Vietnamese American History
"This article is an edited chapter on the major historical events and contemporary characteristics of the Vietnamese American community, excerpted from The New Face of Asian Pacific America: Numbers, Diversity, and Change in the 21st Century, edited by Eric Lai and Dennis Arguelles in conjunction with AsianWeek Magazine and published by the UCLA Asian American Studies Center."
Vietnamese Americans Migration History
"On April 18, 1975, less than two weeks before the fall of Saigon, President Ford authorized the entry of 130,000 refugees from the three countries of Indochina into the United States, 125,000 of whom were Vietnamese. This first large group of Vietnamese in America has become known as "the first wave." Those in the first wave who arrived in the mid- to late-1970s, typically had close ties with the American military and therefore tended to be the elite of South Vietnam. According to data collected by the United States Department of State in 1975, over 30 percent of the heads of households in the first wave were trained in the medical professions or in technical or managerial occupations, 16.9 percent were in transportation occupations, and 11.7 percent were in clerical and sales occupations. Only 4.9 percent were fishermen or farmers—occupations of the majority of people in Vietnam. Over 70 percent of the first wave refugees from this overwhelmingly rural nation came from urban areas."
The Vietnamese Experience in America by
This concise interpretation of the Vietnamese experience in America begins with the fall of Saigon in 1975, when enormous waves of refugees fled Vietnam. It graphically details their flight to asylum countries in Asia and then to the United States. Based in part on firsthand interviews, the book recounts vivid stories of the horror of getting out of Vietnam and the difficulties of starting over in a new country. It emphasizes the resettlement process in the United States, from the policies of the U.S. government to aspects of community acceptance and conflict, and describes Vietnamese culture and the changes it has undergone in the process of becoming a new Vietnamese-American culture. Among the topics addressed are the arrival of the boat people, the orderly departure program, Amerasians, and the integration and adjustment of refugees to American society. The book concludes with a portrait of contemporary Vietnamese-American society and the outlook for its future.
Call Number: E184.V53 R87 1992
Publication Date: 1992-04-01