Archives Trip 3- Erin Andrewlevich

Archival Research 3                                                                                       Erin Andrewlevich

            One of the first files I looked through was file 55,245-252 on Lee Kwock Koon. This was the youngest case file so far, being 4 or 5 years old. This case was interesting because his file was individual even though he was travelling with his mother, Chang Shee. Many of the other files I have read about young children were paired together if they were siblings. Lee Kwock Koon and his mother were trying to gain entry through his stepfather, Lee Hong, who was a native born Chinese American. The medical examiner diagnosed Lee with “infancy class B” meaning that he needed to be in the care of a guardian, presumably his mother, in the case of either deportation or entry. He was denied entry because even though the status of his stepfather’s citizenship and the relationship between his parents was not contested, it was decided that there was no reason under the Chinese Exclusion Act for Lee to be granted entry. The case was reopened with further witness testimony, but the same decision was reached, and Lee Kwock Koon and his mother were deported to China.

            Another file I read was file 55,245-288 on siblings Fong You Fook, Fong You Mon, and Fong You Ton. These three, all in their early teens tried to gain entry to the United States through their merchant father living in America. They were deported on the grounds of discrepancies between the interrogations of the children. The case of the youngest child was reopened because there was believed to be a resemblance between him and his alleged father. He was still ultimately excluded and deported back to China along with his siblings.

            The file of Moi Dick Hong, file 55,245-570 shows the intensity of the interrogation process at Angel Island. Moi Dick Hong is a typical case, a 16 year old trying to gain status from his merchant father living in the United States. He was excluded for discrepancies between his testimony and the testimony of his alleged father. These discrepancies were about the material of the floor from the house in China that they were asked about. It just seemed so crazy to me that this was their reasoning for not believing the relationship was because of small details. It just seems they were looking for any reasons to exclude Chinese people.

            After 3 days of researching in the archives the overall I have read many, many similar cases. Almost all of them were cases of Chinese people between the age ranges of child to young adult, trying to gain access to the United States through an alleged family member who already had access to life in the United States around 1922 and 1923. Every single case I read was denied entry which I think is indicative of the intense exclusionary policies targeted towards this group of people.

Lee Kowck Koon. File 55245/252, accession E9, subject correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington D.C). 

Fong You Fook, Fong You Mon, And Fong You Ton. File 55245/288, accession E9, subject correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington D.C). 

Moi Dick Hong. File 55245/570, accession E9, subject correspondence, 1906-1932, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, RG 85 (National Archives, Washington D.C). 

Archives #2

            For our second trips to the archives I feel that I was able to be more productive than I was the first time we visited, given that this time I knew what I was looking for and how to look for it. Plus, we narrowed our research topic from the internal operations of Angel Island to habeas corpus cases at Angel Island. I read exclusively case files on immigrants, seven different ones, but interestingly, they were all very similar cases. Almost all the cases that I read were Chinese children or teens trying to gain entry to the United States by means of a parent who was already living in the United States through merchant status or through a parent who was a native born citizen of the United States. Every single one of these cases I read were deported or excluded, typically because the immigration officials could not prove the relationship between the alleged family member in the US and the child trying to gain entry.

            One case that I thought was specifically interesting was the first case I looked at which was the file for Ow Duck and Ow You Sin, file 55,245-138. This case involved two individuals in their teens, trying to gain entry through their mother who was a native-born US citizen. What was particularly interesting about this case was the continuous mention of a case regarding immigrant Low Joe, an immigration case I coincidentally read the last time I was at the archives, file 55,188-107. The Low Joe case was a similar situation to the Ow’s case, in that Low tried to gain entry to the United States through a family member already residing there. His case was unique in that it reopened for an appeal because of additional affidavits. The Low Joe case was used in the appeal of Ow Duck and Ow You Sin’s case in requesting the submission of additional affidavits. Even with the additional affidavits in the case of Low Joe, he was also deported. Ow Duck and Ow You Sin were not allowed additional affidavits therefore their case was not reopened and because the relationship could not be proven between the children and their mother, they were deported. It was stated that their relationship could not be proven because of discrepancies in various interrogations of their alleged mother, Chan Ying, causing officials to question her character.

            The interrogations were very interesting to read, and it is hard to comprehend that they were used as a source for proving the relation of one person to another. These questions included the name of the village, the size in terms of houses, how many rows of houses were in the village, if there was a school and if they had very been to the school, if they had interacted with certain people, if they knew about said person’s family and village and whereabouts. Every case I read contained questions that seemed extremely too detailed to remember and easy to mix up.

            I think it will be interesting to compare cases with my groupmates to see if they read cases that were any different. I know I only read seven files, but all of them were very similar which makes me wonder what other kind of situations immigrants found themselves in when trying to gain entry to the United States.

Archival Experience 1

Erin Andrewlevich

Working in the archives was a fascinating experience! Going into it, I was not completely sure what I was going to be looking at, what I needed to look for, and how to find the things I needed for our research, but after a short period of looking through the files, I quickly was able to make sense of the process I would need to do this research. I only looked through about two and a half folders but there was so much information. The strategy I devised was mainly to scan the papers in each file quickly and take pictures of anything I thought could potentially be useful, which ended being quite a lot. I decided I would go through the pictures and sort through information at a later time because I wanted to make the most of my experience at the archives and get through as much information as possible while I was there. I would rather have left the archives with too much information than too little.

The first file I looked (55,188-107) at was a case file involving a man named Joe Low. It was a habeous corpus file about him and his family being held in the detention center at Angel Island in 1922. He and his family were immigrants from China and were deported. This study could be beneficial to our project as it deals with one of the most prevalent immigrant groups that came through Angel Island and details the direct impacts of immigration restrictions on the people effected. The next few files I looked at contained information about the facilities at Angel Island (55,166-343). These files detailed the potential movement of the immigration center from Angel Island to somewhere else on the mainland. These sections also specified the internal operations of the island as well as many of the problems with the facility as it was operating such as the lack of funding which I think will be very helpful in our project.

Working with history in this context was also a new experience for me that I really enjoyed. I loved being able to see actual history and touch actual documents. It really put the topics we are learning and talking about in class in a new perspective. Researching this content for myself made the history seem so much more real. I got to look at all the documents (including the ones that are just extraneous), I was the one who got to decide what was important, and I get to make sense of all. I’m excited to go back in October because I know we will have more time for researching that day, and I will know better how and what to look for in the archives. Also, our group will probably have a better basis for out project by then which will help me narrow down my research further.