Mahjong tilesAnnalise Heinz, a doctoral candidate in Stanford University’s Department of History, has been studying Mahjong, its transition from China to North America, development and portrayal in the United States, and essential role in the formation of both Chinese and Jewish communities.

According to her research, Mahjong’s popularity in the United States took off during the 1920s but contrary to popular myth, was no more than 75 years old at the time. The game was not only culturally significant in Chinatown communities starting in the ’20s and ’30s, it also helped form bonds among Jewish women recently relocated to the suburbs in the ’50s and ’60s.

Heinz continues to collect oral history testimony regarding Mahjong. She may be contacted through her website.