Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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Wong-Woo, Harmon : Video Interview with Harmon Wong-Woo by AIISF
Year of Arrival 1938

In the summer of 1997 and 1998, several former detainees returned to Angel Island where they were interviewed in the detention barracks.  Here's an interview with Harmon Wong-Woo.

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Hong, Robert : A True Chinese American Story by AIISF
Year of Arrival 1936

Filmmaker Jeffrey Chin contributes this introductory segment of a three-part series on Robert Hong, a former detainee, who was 11 years old in 1936 when he first landed on Angel Island. Stay tuned for more segments in the weeks ahead.

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Gee, Stanley and Amy : The American Dream by Judge Delbert Gee
Year of Arrival 1938

Taken from a speech given by the Honorable Delbert C. Gee during the ceremonial administration of his oath of office as Judge of the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, in January 2003 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center.

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Leong, C. Tony and May : The Journeys of C. Tony Leong and May Chung Leong to America via Angel Island  by Tony C. Leong, Jr., Ph.D.
Year of Arrival 1914

Tony C. Leong, Jr. contributes a fascinating and detailed account of secrets uncovered in the tangled tale of paper sons so common among Chinese Americans.

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Lum, Fong Shee : Sowing Strength in a Strange Land: The Life of Lum Fong Shee by Carla Koop
Year of Arrival 1912

The following is a biography of my grandmother, Lum Fong Shee, who travelled from a village in southern China to the United States as a new bride in an arranged marriage. She was 21 years of age when she left, and spent the remainder of her 78 years in California. I call my grandmother’s story “Sowing Strength in a Strange Land” because of the personal strength she drew upon, living as an illiterate, non-English speaking woman in a foreign culture and land. Despite her challenges, she raised a large family and achieved business success.

This narrative is based on a series of interviews I conducted with my grandmother between 1990 and 1996. Because my grandmother spoke only Chinese and I speak none, my mother, Frances Koop, acted as translator and full participant in the interviews. Eventually I was able to complete a written oral history that gave my grandmother's experience a more permanent voice. I am grateful to have this opportunity to share her experience as part of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation's “Immigrant Voices” project.

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Futagawa, Masako and Misako : A Story of Two Japanese-American Sisters, Masako and Misako by Yulia B. Bartow
Year of Arrival Born in U.S.

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Lee, Don Yee Fung : My Journey from China to America by William Wong
Year of Arrival 1939

Adapted from an interview conducted by William Wong, edited by Jordan Yee and Eddie Wong

Don Yee Fung Lee looks back at the hardships and trials of his life with great candor and feeling.  From very harsh beginnings, he forged a life that is rich with accomplishments on the professional and personal level.

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Marbach, Flora and Lizzy : Flora Sara Marbach, 50, and Lizzy Marbach, 12:Fleeing Hitler’s Germany for a new life in America by Erika Alvarez
Year of Arrival 1940

By late spring 1940, Hitler’s armies had roared through and conquered the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Paris was next to topple, in June 1940, when Flora Marbach was awaiting a visa to flee Vienna, Germany. A Jew, and a widow since 1937, Flora must have found the early days of the Third Reich terrible, especially after the government abruptly confiscated her husband’s textile factory and left her without any compensation. She managed to survive on some money of her own and her husband’s insurance, but she knew that as Jews, she and her twelve-year-old daughter, Lizzy, would have no future in a German-occupied Europe. They had to get out, but how??

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Jiu, How : Sharing the Angel Island Immigration Experience of How Jiu by Lena and Polly Fong
Year of Arrival 1928

How Jiu’s journey to America was full of drama and daring.  Daughter Lena Fong and granddaughter Polly Fong share this account of a remarkable woman’s life in Oakland Chinatown during the tough Depression through the post World War II years.

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Wong, Helen Hong : Reminiscences of a Gold Mountain Woman by Helen Hong Wong and Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1928

Judy Yung met and interviewed Helen Hong Wong, a.k.a. Yuen Lan Heung, in 1982 while researching the history of Chinese women in America.  A petite and spry woman of seventy-four years, Helen immigrated to the United States in 1928.  During the interview she was quite candid about her detention experience at Angel Island, her hardworking life in the Midwest, where she was often the only Chinese woman in town, and her struggles raising a family of four children during the Great Depression.  Although she never realized her Gold Mountain dream of a life of wealth and leisure, she nevertheless found fulfillment in her work, family, and community.  Helen made her home in Chicago, where she passed away in 2001 at the age of ninety-three.

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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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Wong, Moon Tung : Eat More Potatoes and Go Back to China: The Life of Moon Tung Wong by Edward Wong
Year of Arrival 1929

As a child, I was often confused about the three different names associated with my father.  First, there was Fook Gooy Wong, the name on his citizenship papers.  Then there was Frank Wong or Frankie as he was known to the customers at the laundry he and my mother, Siu Fong Yu Wong, ran for 40 years in Hollywood, CA.  And finally, there was Wong Moon Tung, a name only used by his friends and cronies from Bak Hang Toon, his birth village.

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Lee, Bak Huen : Coming to America through The Angel Island Immigration Station by Lia Chang
Year of Arrival 1937

In recognition of my grandmother’s 90th birthday, I am sharing this article I wrote about her experience of being detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station, which appeared online in the September 19, 2000 edition of A. Media, Inc.

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