Jade Snow Wong was born and raised in San Francisco, California, in a traditional immigrant Chinese family. In her now-classic memoir Fifth Chinese Daughter, originally published in 1945, she wrote of her childhood, "Life was secure but formal, sober but quietly happy and the few problems she had were entirely concerned with what was proper or improper in the behavior of a little Chinese girl." She struggled against her family's opposition to higher education for girls and attended first San Francisco City College, then Mills College, from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1942. During World War II, she worked as a secretary in a shipyard. She discovered a talent for pottery in a class in her last semester at Mills, and when she began to sell her work in a shop in Chinatown, it sold quickly. Her ceramics were exhibited at fairs and in art museums across the USA. In 1950, she married Woodrow Ong, also an artist, with whom she had four children. The couple worked together as artists and later managed a travel agency together. Her pioneering book Fifth Chinese Daughter, which became a fixture on high school and college reading lists, prompted the U.S. State Department to send her on a speaking tour of Asia in 1953. Her second volume of memoirs, No Chinese Stranger, which appeared in 1975, described this trip and her visits to the People’s Republic of China.