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.