Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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Park, Rose Young Soon : Two Korean Woman and a Child at Angel Island by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1914

There were no more than 1,000 Koreans among the half million immigrants who sought admission through the port of San Francisco between 1910 and 1940.  Fleeing a harsh life in Korea under Japanese colonial rule since 1910, most were young men claiming to be refugee students, but there were also picture brides, wives, and children of Korean alien residents.  To circumvent the Japanese government’s ban on Korean emigration, many had to steal across the northern Korean border into Manchuria and make their way to Shanghai, where they could book passage on an American steamer going to the United States.  Some were lucky enough to secure Japanese passports that allowed them to travel directly to the United States.  Among the lucky ones was three-year-old Rose Park.

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Pera, Philipos : Locked Out by the Quota Law: The Case of Philipos Pera, Assyrian Refugee by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1922

World War I and religious persecution wrecked havoc in the pastoral life of Christian Assyrians in Persia and the Ottoman Empire.  Their participation in the war, fighting on the Allied side with the Russians and the British, left them vulnerable to massacres by Turks, Kurds, and Persians of the Moslem faith.  By the end of the war, nearly 100,000 Assyrians, along with tens of thousands of Armenians, had been slaughtered, their homes looted, their lands destroyed, and their women carried away.  Approximately 10,000 Assyrians found shelter in Russian Transcaucasia while many others escaped to Europe, Australia, and the Americas.  Over 600 men, women, and children sought refuge in the United States, 200 arriving in San Francisco on Japanese ships from Yokohama between 1918 and 1922. Among them was 16-year-old Philipos Pera.

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Pernik, Zhanna : Zhanna’s Ultimate Destination by Kriti Khari
Year of Arrival 1996

The exodus of Russians to the United States started in the 1880’s. During this exodus the majority of the people who moved to the United States were mostly Jewish. Those Jews who lived in Germany and Russia were degraded in status. In Russia, they were treated as the “other” and were in many cases stripped of their basic rights. They left Russia as settlers and not as sojourners. Settlers are those who cannot return to their home country again or do not wish to return and sojourners are those who leave their countries with an intention to return home. Zhanna Pernik was born on September 15, 1958 in Ukraine, Soviet Union. Zhanna is a Jewish settler who moved to the United States because of the humiliation she faced in Ukraine ever since she was a child. Even though Zhanna was not a part of the Russian migration in the 1880’s, she did have family that moved to the United States before her in the early 1990’s. While she was in Ukraine she lost her brother so her widowed sister-in-law moved to the U.S. with her kids.  Her sister-in-law had to go through a lot of difficulties, especially because she was a widow staying in a European country. She had to go through Austria and Italy before she was allowed to enter the United States. Zhanna believes that her sister-in law’s immigration was very painful compared to hers since she at least had her family that backed her up throughout the process of immigration. Had it not been for them she would also have had difficulty.

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Prokofiev, Sergei : Passage through Angel Island by Jordan Yee
Year of Arrival 1918

Prokofiev was an established pianist and composer in Russia when he journeyed to the United States in 1918 for series of performances.  The following essay by Jordan Yee, an AIISF volunteer and ranger at the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, brings to life Prokofiev’s intense four-day detention at the Angel Island Hospital.  Prokofiev was a prolific diarist who kept a detailed and contemplative record of his thoughts and feelings.  Yee’s masterful blending of Prokofiev’s journal entries and citations from Prokofiev’s immigration files provide a fascinating glimpse of one person’s experience at the Immigration Station.

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Quock, Jim (Wah Bo) : My Father Was a Paper Son by Steve Kwok
Year of Arrival 1929

From 1882 until December 1943, immigration restrictions, namely the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, made it nearly impossible for Chinese to immigrate to the United States.  It was the only law in American history to deny citizenship or entry into the United States based upon a specific nationality.  Only merchants, diplomats and sons of citizens were allowed into the U.S.  During the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s many immigrants from China arrived in the United States with purchased citizenships.  Those who utilized this method to enter the U.S. were known as “paper sons.”

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Rohr, Max, Fanni and Gertrude : To Brooklyn via Angel Island, - With Thanks For The Support of Family. by Andrea Bradley
Year of Arrival 1940

AIISF is pleased to present the story of Max, Fanni, and Gertrude Rohr, who fled Nazi-held Vienna in 1940 and made the arduous journey across Russia and China to reach Angel Island in June 1940.  They were among the hundreds of Jewish refugees who found new homes in the U.S. before the Holocaust.    

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Rubin, Jakob and Ernestine : Riding the Trans Siberian Railroad to Angel Island by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival 1940

Jakob Rubin and his wife Ernestine arrived at Angel Island from Vienna, Germany on August 28, 1940.  Jakob and Ernestine were both Jewish, and although neither directly stated their reason for leaving Germany, it can be assumed they were trying to escape the mounting persecution against Jewish people in the years directly preceding World War II.  In Vienna, Jakob worked as an office clerk buying and selling men’s clothes in a department store; however, according to his interrogation records, he “was forced to leave that business.”  His response hints at actions of Hitler’s early regime that forced Germany’s Jewish population out of employment (Krystallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, in which over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed in Germany and parts of Austria, had occurred just two years prior).  Jakob also mentioned not being able to contact his brother in France for five months “Because it was impossible to get anything” and that his other brother in Vienna was no longer operating his business for similar reasons—“because it is impossible”—again suggesting the presence of the Nazi regime.  According to an account by Jakob’s brother-in-law Alfred Marill, at the time Marill Rubin left the country (Jakob mentioned in this interrogation report that his sister Klara and her husband Alfred came to the US with him and Ernestine on the same ship), 25,000 out of Vienna’s 30,000 Jewish residents were “fed by the community.”

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Samra, Dalip Singh : From Punjab, India to Angel Island by Samra Family and AIISF
Year of Arrival 1910

Hard work and perseverance will take you anywhere in this world, and Dalip Singh Samra learned that lesson very early.

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Scheuer, Erna and Julius : Jewish refugees from Germany by Judy Kawamoto
Year of Arrival 1940

Erna and Julius Scheuer, a married couple, arrived at Angel Island Immigration Station on August 28, 1940. They had been passengers on the ship the Rakuyo Maru leaving from Yokohama, Japan. They were interviewed by the Immigration Board on September 3, 1940. The interview was conducted through a German interpreter.

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Schrimmer, Manfred : Manfred Schrimmer – a summary of his detention at Angel Island by Tene Kember
Year of Arrival 1940


Schulze, Tye Leung : Interpreter, Voter, and Pinball Aficionado by Lia Dun
Year of Arrival Born in U.S.

At age 12, Tye Leung Schulze ran away from home to escape an arranged marriage and ended up in a mission home helping to save girls from brothels.  She later became the first Chinese American woman to pass the civil service examination and receive as federal service position, as an interpreter on Angel Island, and at 24 or 25, Tye became the first Chinese American woman to cast a ballot in a presidential election.  A San Francisco Daily News article lauded her as “the first Chinese woman in the history of the world to exercise the electoral franchise.”  Her achievements contributed immensely in shaping the experience of Chinese Americans in San Francisco.

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Schwarz, Robert : The story of Robert Schwarz, a bank clerk from Vienna by Yulia B. Bartow
Year of Arrival 1940

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Shah, Mahesh : Mahesh Shah: Journey to California by Roy Chan
Year of Arrival 1965

  Mahesh Shah was born in Mumbai, India in 1943. He grew up in Mumbai and studied science at Wilson College. He was then admitted to Banaras Hindu University where he studied Mechanical Engineering for four years. After graduation, many of his friends wanted to study further in the United States, and so Mahesh also looked into Masters programs in U.S. universities. He eventually applied and was accepted to a number of programs including ones in Chicago, Texas, and Berkeley. Without knowing much about these U.S. cities, he decided on the University of California, Berkeley because he heard it was too cold in Chicago and that cowboys might shoot him in Texas.

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