Archives #3 – Courtlyn Plunkett

Habeas Corpus cases deal with various means of deportation, in particular it deals with issues that are illegal under law, such as prostitution. Through my research at the archives, I found numerous cases where the subject at question was guilty of housing prostitutes or the committing the act of prostitution. In file number 53,678-163, Wong Sun Shee, alias Wong Sam, was found in violation of the Act of Congress approved on February 20, 1907 to which was found receiving, sharing in, and deriving the benefits from the earnings of a prostitute. With this ruling, she was to be deported back to China. Her daughter, Louie Ngo, completes an affidavit in hopes that the Department of Labor will reconsider her mother’s deportation. She states that her mother is in poor health; has no relatives or friends in China; and that her village has been destroyed by flood. As well, if she was to return to China, she will likely perish due to her ill health.  Along with her daughter’s affidavit, numerous others were submitted by local Chinese firms and individual Chinese and whites on her behalf.

            Wong Sun Shee was taking into custody after a raid had been done on a house of prostitution in San Francisco. She was then further charged with holding certain Chinese girls in peonage. Wong Sun Shee denied that she shared the earnings of these Chinese girls and that she was only the housekeeper and knew nothing of their doings. However, one of the girls, Lee Choy Lin, who was later deported to China, stated that Wong Sun Shee held her in slavery and forced her into practicing prostitution to which she received $250 to $300 a month from them. Lee Choy Lin stated that she had been smuggled in on the Manchuria ship in 1909 and was taken to this house in Chinatown to which she was made to practice prostitution. 

            Her attorney pleads for leniency because Wong Sun Shee is a mother and grandmother of numerous United States citizens. As well she is old women is who is weak physically and mentally. It was with this testimony that her warrant for deportation was sustained and that she was to be deported back to China at the Government’s expense. 

An important figure at this time that supported Chinese immigrant women who fell victim to bondage and prostitution was Donaldina Cameron. She was a protestant missionary who worked at the Mission Home in San Francisco. Mission Home provided these victims a safe haven as well as provided them with schooling, bible study, and domestic training. Through her work at Mission Home, Donaldina fought to save these women from slavery in Chinatown. Through her career, she saved roughly 2,000 to 3,000 girls from slavery. It is important to include her in this analysis on prostitution because it shows the other side of the law. As in, it shows the people who were trying to save these people rather than getting them deported from the United States.

Commissioner General of Immigration, Washington D.C. March 16, 1916, File 53,678-163, accession E9, Subject Correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC). 

Kamiya, Gary. “The Woman Who Fought Chinatown Sex Slavery for Decades.” San Francisco Chronicle, February 2, 2018. Accessed November 21, 2019.

Archives #2 – Courtlyn Plunkett

The files I found this archival trip showed why Chinese immigrants were dismissed and excluded from becoming a citizen in the United States. For instance, I had a lot of cases where the subject of question was deported because they were in violation of the Immigration Act of February 5, 1917 because they entered without inspection, by means of false and misleading statements. The Immigration Act of February 5, 1917 is also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act. This act restricted immigrants that are found undesirable such as idiots, imbeciles, criminals, and the poor. For example, Chew Gong also known as See To Cheung, served a jail sentence conviction on a charge of conspiracy. I had a lot of Chinese immigrants getting caught for this because of their usage of an alias. It was because they entered without inspection and false statements, that in every scenario that these people were deported back to their home country of China. Along with these types of cases, another case stood out as well. This case clearly shows the lack of rights the Chinese had. It is said that women can have derivative citizenship if married to an American citizen or they can apply separately for citizenship. As well, children who are born in the United States have derivative citizenship. The case is of a Chinese woman, Wong Shee, who was married to an American citizen for almost seven years. However, one month prior to seven years, her husband died. In 1912, she obtained a native’s return certificate. She returned to the U.S. in 1924, in which she was examined by the Medical Examiner of Aliens. It was here that it was determined she was afflicted with Clonorchiasis and was mandatorily excluded and set for deportation. Clonorchiasis is stated to be a Class A contagious disease caused by Chinese liver fluke.  First, she was given six months of required treatment and she was still afflicted then she is still set for deportation and if not afflicted she is released. Overall, Wong Shee was not being refused because of her husband’s death, but because upon re-entering the US she was afflicted with a disease. Wong Shee also has native-born children in the US as well as children in China. Since the children in the US are old enough to take care of the younger siblings, she is said to be needed more in China where the children are younger. Overall, I had a large abundance of Chinese aliens being denied and deported because they entered without inspection. I would have interested to find more information on cases of Chinese Aliens not getting deported or possibly other reasons for deportation.

Commissioner General of Immigration, Labor Department, Washington D.C. April 22, 1925, File 55245-815, accession E9, Subject Correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC). 

In re Chew Gong alias Wong Sun, and Chew How alias See Hoo How. April 26, 1918, File 54269-10, accession E9, Subject Correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC). 

US Immigration Legislation Online. Accessed October 23, 2019.

Archival Experience #1 – Courtlyn Plunkett

Friday, September 27, 2019 was our first class trip to the National Archives. The trip was an adventurous and educational experience. Seeing how the actual archives look in comparison to looking on the computer was an eye-opening process. However, there were a lot of trial and errors when it came to finding valuable sources. I received only one box of files to begin my research, within the file were numerous folders. The first five of my files were sadly not exactly about my research topic. Throughout these files, I learned a lot about the Philadelphia Immigration Station and how there were numerous cases of people being found guilty of being an alien and an LPC. As well, there were numerous records of fines being made to commanders of ships for smuggling aliens into the United States. The fines ranged from $10 to $300. It was not until my last three files that I was able to find information more relevant to my research topic, Angel Island. I received files from Angel Island Station, specifically Special Inquiry applications from immigrants coming through Angel Island. It provided the board’s decision on whether they are to be allowed or not. Another interesting piece I found were images of the men immigrating as well as Alien Affidavits. The Alien Affidavits had pictures of the aliens and their finger prints. This was a pretty cool piece to find. 

            Along with all this new information I found, there was one saying that stuck out to me while I was reading through my archival files. It was found whenever the board was making their decision to exclude the immigrant into the United States. For example, it stated “You are excluded as an alien enemy under the provisions of the President’s Proclamation of April 6, 1917, and also on the grounds that you are a person likely to become a public charge.” I am familiar with what an LPC is but unfamiliar with what the President’s Proclamation was. Doing further research has led to me to find out that this proclamation was made by Woodrow Wilson and was to minimize the threat of German aliens into the United States. This piece of information makes sense when reviewing the archival information I found. The majority of the work I found were about German immigrants. In particular, an archive that I found useful was a case file on German detainee named Theodor Ebsen. Within his file there was correspondence letters to and from Churchill. As well, it provided his special inquiry at Angel Island Station about admission to the United States and his Alien Affidavit. His Alien Affidavit includes his photograph, fingerprints, and factual information about himself. This piece of archival research could be useful for our project because it gives us information on how the immigration service worked and how they decided who was to be excluded. Since we are looking into Angel Island, it is interesting to see the diversity of all who came and were detained there. Therefore, in order to understand Angel Island’s operations, we must look at individual records of those who were detained there. This will allow us to determine what the determining factors were if they were to be excluded or not. As well, we need to look into a certain time frame of Angel Island to determine where the majority of the immigrants were coming from and the laws that affected their immigration statuses. 

Brigadier General M. Churchill, Director of Military Intelligence, Washington, D.C., May 21, 1919, File 54590-19, accession E9, Subject Correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington, DC).

 U.S., President, Proclamation,”Alien Enemy Regulation” Statutes at Large, vol. XL, Part 2, pp. 1651-1652; U.S., President , Proclamation, “Additional and Supplemental Regulations Concerning Alien Enemies” Statutes at Large, vol. XL, Part 2, pp. 1716-1718.