Adam Thomson – Blog Post 3 – Surprise, surprise. Denials ad nauseam

Friday 15th November marked our research excursion to the National Archives in Washington D.C. Much like the second trip I found a wealth information, if not more than last time, that could have a potential use in our final project for this class. Perhaps the most remarkable part of my findings was that I found no successful cases of admittance to the United States following habeas corpus proceedings being initiated by Chinese immigrants following their initial attempts to enter the US through Angel Island. I researched five cases overall but I will include three of the most interesting and pertinent to our area of study.

The first case that I went through was concerning the appeal of fifteen-year-old boy by the name of Loowing Hee trying to enter the US as a son of a merchant, and group not subject to the various exclusionary policies exclusively aimed at Chinese immigrants. The case was more than likely an example of a paper son, as Hee’s alleged Father, whose status as a merchant was confirmed, made four trips back to China between 1882 and 1924 and upon returning to the US claimed that he had a different number of children each time. Claiming that he had two sons and a daughter when interviewed in 1911, then in 1918 claiming four sons and no daughter. These discrepancies in prior testimonies from the Father among issues such as different claims about when Hee finished school and what domestic animals were kept in the family home lead to the rejection of Hee’s appeal and subsequent return to China. [1]

The second case was particularly interesting to me, as it regarded a young man, by the name of whom was trying to emigrate to the US as the son or daughter of a merchant but that of a US citizen, unlike the cases which I most commonly analysed. His alleged Father left for China and 1915, returning in 1917 and then again in 1921 and returning in 1923 with his ‘son’ Gin Guey Look, aged 14. Look received supporting testimonies’ from two local Chinese immigrants but as is common with many case of this ilk, the number of discrepancies in them were numerous and so much so in this specific case that the investigators did not need to use all of them as; “the enumeration of a few will throw light upon the case”. The most remarkable part of this case was that I came across was for the testimony for Guey that was given by a white man used a completely different from that used to take the testimony of a Chinese man. It was a much different tone and asked different questions in terms of the depth and length. [2}

The third case of particular note that I came across appears to be one of human trafficking for the purposes of prostitution, but this isn’t mentioned in the report. It concerned the appeal of a women by the name of Hom Shee aged 20. Shee had supposedly married, a man by the name of Dea Ah Sing aged 40, back in China before attempting to come to the US. As is common with many of these cases there was too many conflicting areas in their testimonies’ and the lack of ability to establish their relationship and this instance marriage, was legitimate and thus gave Shee the right to immigrate to the United States. [3]

Files Used 

[1] Loowing Hee. File 55245/53, accession E9, subject correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington D.C). 

[2]  Gin Guey Look, File 55392/122, accession E9, subject correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington D.C).

[3] Hom Shee, File 55245/839, accession E9, subject correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington D.C). 

Adam Thomson – Blog Post 2 – A More Successful Trip

This past Friday marked our second research excursion to the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Personally I felt great about the amount of depth I managed to get into with my research but due to time constraints I feel I didn’t get through the volume of material that I had envisioned I would. 

The first file that I went through during this visit was about the deportation proceedings of Mary Anna Humphries and her four children. Humphries and her offspring were essentially smuggled into the country as while trying to cross into the United States via the entry point of Victoria B.C, she lied about her motivations behind coming to the US by claiming it was only a temporary visit. Humphries also claimed that the man that was escorting her and her children was her uncle when in fact it is thought that he was her lover. Humphries is also accused and charged with entering the U.S. for an “immoral purpose” and was, along with her children to become LPCs. The latter files contain a vast amount of interview records of both Humphries, her alleged lover (referred to in the case files as Mr. Robert Redhead) and even the children. During these interviews, there is extended and intensive questioning of all the above parties trying to ascertain the nature of Humphries and Redhead’s relationship as their immorality could be grounds for deportation. I was shocked to see the amount of detail they went into with these questions such as asking the children for the exact room in which they slept and who was in there with them. INS were eventually able to serve a deportation notice to Humphries and her children based on three charges. The first being that she entered the US for immoral purposes, later revealed to be an abusive marriage that had continued since she arrived from Wales, that she lied under oath about the nature of her relationship with Mr. Redhead and that because of her poor financial situation and the likelihood that she would be unable to support her children. They were additionally charged with LPC’s. I found this first case peaked my interests as it relates directly to many of our in class discussions as to why many immigrants attempting to build a life for themselves in the US were eventually deported, and more than commonly in the case of women they were suspected of coming to the US for immoral purposes which usually meant they were suspected of engaging in prostitution. 

A second case of the three I studied that I found particularly interesting concerned the investigation of Leong Gook and his attempts to enter the United States through Angel Island from his homeland of China. Gook was firstly rejected upon arriving to Angel Island in 1921 aboard the SS Abraham Lincoln as he was trying to enter the country as the son of a US citizen by the name of Leong Sam. Sam had made multiple trips from the US back to China ranging from the late 1800s and into the early 1900s during which he had attempted to gain visas and then citizenship for three other Chinese nationals whom he claimed to be his sons. All of which were rejected. I found this particular case interesting after our in-class discussion this week following watching a documentary on Angel Island and discussions had with Dr Moon while at the Archives as this case is a clear example of a ‘paper son’. This term refers to immigrants attempting to come to the United States under the guise of being the son of an already established US citizen to make a better life for themselves, while having no actual relation to the party claiming to be their parents. Gook was held at Angel Island for two years and went through many interviews and interrogations about the legitimacy of his reasons for coming to the US and whether Sam was his Father or not. The great depth and detail that the INS interviewers used in their questioning of Gook fascinated as it was so detail orientated. They asked such questions such as how many houses were in the row that he lived and which way the sun faced. It was eventually discovered that there were thirteen discrepancies in the testimonies of Gook and Sam and because of this Gook was subsequently denied entrance to the United States and put back to China in 1923.  

An Overwhelming Experience – Adam Thomson

The drive into the center of the Nation’s capital will never fail to turn me into a little kid. I’ve done it a handful of times now but I still find myself gawking out the windows as we drive by every historical monument that until three years ago I had only seen on the big screen. However, today was different. In contrast to taking the touristy front entrance (much like Nicolas Cage in National Treasure – the last reference to the movie, I promise) we entered through the back door of the National Archives and were subsequently greeted with access to the greatest amount of historical data and sources that I have ever had access too. 

To say I was little overwhelmed would be the understatement of the century. Prior to this excursion I liked to think that I was quite good and interpreting and internalising the knowledge gained from both primary and secondary sources as a historian. Upon opening my first box I came to the realisation that I was now doing ‘Real History’ for lack of a better term. Let me explain, this is no way in a slight to the various courses and Professors that have taught me before but the research projects I have completed in previous semesters have always been very controlled and heavily directed. The best analogy I could think of to describe this is being a dog on a leash. These courses give you a limited degree of freedom to stop and smell various sources but do not allow you to run off and chase the big questions and get lost in the woods of primary source analysis. That is the very same problem that I found myself dealing with on Friday, I was so deep into the woods I could no longer see where I entered from and everything started to look the same. 

To branch away from this extended metaphor, I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information that was available for my group’s research. While I managed to find some information that will be pertinent and valuable to our final project, when we make our second trip to the archives next month. I will have to be much more organised and focused in my research methods. As with most things in life, you can’t expect to be great at something you’ve never done before and the only way to get better is to practice. 

One of the most interesting cases that I came across after I broke through monotonous and honestly excessive amount of early 20thAmerican government bureaucracy was concerning the deportation of two immigrants through Angel Island. Two women by the name of Leong Hui Hing and Mrs. Rosalina Perez whom had entered through El Paso both were being deported for overstaying their immigration bond but were being held in the hospital at Angel Island as they were deemed unfit for deportation by the on-site Doctor, Rose Goong Wong. As Hing had pneumonia and Perez was suffering from langutetos. I found this specific case interesting as previously I had only thought of Angel Island a port of entry as opposed to a deportation station. Secondly this case perked my interest when I first read it as it was overseen by a doctor of Asian heritage and prior to our in class discussion this week I did not think that immigrants and their children would be a part of the immigration and deportation process.