For Students

Chetin, Helen.  Angel Island Prisoner 1922. Berkeley: New Seed Press, 1982.  A young Chinese girl, her mother, and baby brother are detained on Angel Island while awaiting permission to enter the United States.  Elementary school age.

Currier, Katrina Saltonstall. Kai's Journey to Gold Mountain. Tiburon: Angel Island Association, 2004. This picture book for young children is based on former detainee and San Francisco resident Albert Wong’s experience on Angel Island as a twelve-year old as he leaves China and journeys alone to “Gold Mountain” or America, to live with his father.

Freedman, Russell. Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain. New York: Clarion Press, 2013. Newberry Medal winner Freedman presents a thorough history of the immigration station in historical context, with many excellent photographs interspersed with poetry. Grades 5-up.

Hoobler, Dorothy & Thomas. The Chinese American Family Album. London: Oxford University Press, 1994. This resource traces the experiences of Chinese Americans using historic photographs, diary selections, letters, oral histories, and newspaper articles combined with general background. The section on Angel Island includes poems and excerpts of oral histories from former detainees.  Grades 5-up.

Hoobler, Dorothy & Thomasl. The Japanese American Family Album. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. This resource documents the lives of Japanese Americans, including their stay at Angel Island, through their diaries, letters, interviews, photos, newspaper articles, and personal reflections.  Grades 5-up.

James, Helen Foster and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh (illustrated by Wilson Ong). Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America. Ann Arbor, MI: Sleeping Bear Press 2013. James and Loh tell the story of twelve-year old Lee, who leaves his family to come to America as a paper son and is questioned on Angel Island.

Lee, Milly (illustrated by Yangsook Choi). Landed. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006. In this picture book for young children, Lee draws upon  her father-in-law’s experience to tell the story of a Chinese immigrant boy coming through Angel Island  to join his father in America.

Wong, Li Keng. Good Fortune: My Journey to Gold Mountain. Atlanta: Peachtree Publications, 2006.  Wong, a former detainee and teacher, shares the story of her journey to the United States from China through the Angel Island Immigration Station, and her family’s life in Oakland Chinatown. Grades 5-up.

Yep, Laurence & Kathleen S. Yep.  The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.  Based on the author’s family history and research at the National Archives, this is the story of ten-year-old Gim Lew’s journey from his village in China to America and his trepidations about passing the grueling test at Angel Island.  Grades 5-up.

SPICE. Angel Island: The Chinese-American Experience, Stanford, California: SPICE Publications, 2011. This is a graphic novel about Chinese immigrants being detained at Angel Island. The book compares their experience to that of European immigrants at Ellis Island.

For Adults

Barde, Robert Eric. Immigration at the Golden Gate: Passenger Ships, Exclusion, and Angel Island. Westport: Praeger, 2008. Barde examines the history of Asian passenger steamship travel and immigration through Angel Island.  The voices of a century ago—of exclusion, bureaucratic and judicial nightmares, fear of foreigners and their diseases, and moral ambiguity and uncertainty—all echo to the present day.

Buchholz, Jason. A Paper Son. This work of fiction veers from past to present and back again, imagining Buchholz's Angel Island ancestors' lives in China and the U.S. It's an enthralling read, making you wonder where the author will be going next. Publisher's Weekly says, “Buchholz’s gripping debut is a clever supernatural thriller that plays with readers’ narrative expectations. Rich, interesting characters fill this fast-paced, magical realist novel about family connections.”

Bustard, Bruce.  Attachments: Faces and Stories from America’s Gates. Washington, D.C.: Foundation for the National Archives, 2012.  This collection of documents and photographs draws from the millions of immigration case files in the National Archives to tell some of the most gripping stories of immigrants entering, leaving, or staying in America.  Many Angel Island stories are included.

Fanning, Bramwell and Wong, William. Images of America: Angel Island. Arcadia Publishers, 2007. This hoto history book has a extensive chapter on the history of the immigration station and on AIISF's efforts to preserve the site.

Fujii, Marie Park.  Growing Up American in Papa's World. Honolulu: Belknap Publishing & Design, 2011.  This is a heart-warming memoir of the Park family, their immigration to America through Angel Island, and their struggle to survive as farmers in Oregon and Idaho during the Depression years.

Goh, Teow Lim, Islanders. Goh, herself a Chinese immigrant, wrote a book imagining the poetry of women immigrants on Angel Island (their quarters burned down in the 1940 fire that destroyed the Administration Building). Poet Genny Lim says, "a lovely book of poems which evoked with poignancy and heartfelt tenderness, the voices of the Chinese immigrant women and men detained on Angel Island. [Goh captures] with such simplicity and spareness, the pain and sorrow etched on the barrack walls, which were bequeathed to us all. This little book speaks passionately for the many women and men whose voices were silenced from history."

Lai, Him Mark, Genny Lim, Judy Yung. Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 - Second Edition. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2014. This book contains an overview history of the immigration station, provides expanded oral history excerpts from former detainees, and documents 135 poems written on the walls in Chinese with English translations.

Lau, Estelle. Paper Families: Identity, Immigration Administration, and Chinese Exclusion. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.  Lau highlights how immigrant identity formation was a two-way process involving both subterfuge on the part of Chinese immigrants and the relentless efforts of immigration officials to exclude them.  She points out that the Exclusion Acts and the pseudo-familial structures that emerged in response have had lasting effects on Chinese American identity and concludes with a look at exclusion’s legacy, including the Confession Program of the 1960s.

Lee, Erika. At America’s Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. Drawing on a rich trove of historical sources—including immigration records, oral histories, and letters—Lee explores how Chinese exclusion laws not only transformed Chinese American lives, immigration patterns, identities, and families but also recast the United States into a “gatekeeping nation.”

Lee, Erika and Judy Yung. Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.  In this landmark book commemorating the immigration station’s 100th anniversary, Lee and Yung provides a sweeping yet personal history of Chinese “paper sons,” Japanese picture brides Korean refugee students, South Asian political activists, Russian and Jewish refugees, Mexican families, Filipino repatriates, and many others from around the world.  Their experiences on Angel Island reveal how America’s discriminatory immigration policies changed the lives of immigrants and transformed the nation.  Watch the trailer here.

Pegler-Gordon, Anna. In Sight of America - Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.  Using rare photographs and documents culled from the National Archives, Pegler-Gordon examines the impact photography had in implementing immigration policies at Angel Island, Ellis Island, and on the U.S.-Mexico border.  The chapters devoted to the Angel Island experience reveal the creativity used by Chinese and Japanese immigrants to set their image in the proper context to garner more favorable treatment.

Rouse Jorae, Wendy. The Children of Chinatown - Growing Up Chinese American in San Francisco 1850-1920. Rouse Jorae provides captivating portrayals of young people stranded at the Angel Island Immigration Station, rescued from sexual and domestic abuse in Chinatown, and as marginalized Americans in a racist society.  She engages the reader with lively accounts of how the Chinese actively sought to shape their destinies in the face of discrimination, contesting authorities for educational rights and economic equality.

Sakovich, Maria. Congregational Ministry & Advocacy: The Angel Island Immigration Station Era 1910-1940, 2010. This publication was created on the occasion of an interdenominational pilgrimage to Angel Island in 2010. Those profiled include Presbyterian Mission: Donaldina Cameron, Tin Fuk Wu, and Mae Wong; Cumberland Presbyterian Church: Julia McCaslin; Episcopal Church: The Rev. Daniel Wu; Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and National Council of Jewish Women; United Methodist Church: Rev. Edwar Lee and Deaconess Katharine Maurer, Russian Orthodox Church: Father Vladmir Sakovich, and American Baptist Churches, USA: First Chinese Baptist Church, as well as articles on current immigration policy and its parallels with the past. Authors include descendants of those profiled, including Maria Sakovich, and church and community historians.

Sakovich, Maria. "When the ‘Enemy’ Landed at Angel Island: San Francisco Immigration Station Sought to Bar Hostile Aliens and Deport Resident Radicals During World War I," Prologue (Vol. 41, No. 2: Summer 2009)

Soennichsen, John.  Miwoks to Missiles: A History of Angel Island. Tiburon: Angel Island Association, 2001.  This book covers over two hundred years of the island’s history, from the Miwok Indians and Spanish explorers to the U.S. military, establishment of the immigration station, and transition into a state park. The author’s use of historic photographs and personal recollections bring the island and its people to life in dramatic fashion.

Stavans, Ilan. Becoming Americans - Four Centuries of Immigrant Writing. New York: Library of America, 2009.  Comprised mostly of memoirs with some fiction, this volume gathers selections from the writings of 85 immigrants from 45 countries, including Chinese poems from Angel Island, that illustrate the changing views of immigrants in the United States. Through their voices we relive the fears, hopes, and bewilderment of people yearning to be full partners in a nation that alternately welcomes and rejects their presence.

Takaki, Ronald. Strangers from a Different Shore. Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1989. In this narrative history, Takaki tells the richly diverse stories of Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, Filipinos, Asian Indians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians who have come to the United States during the past century and a half.  He allows these immigrants to speak through their songs, poems, and letters, and weaves their voices into the broad context of American history.  Angel Island is covered in the chapter about Chinese immigration.

Yung, Judy. Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999. This book documents Chinese American women’s lives through their writings and oral histories.  The first and last chapters are devoted to how to research the immigration history of Chinese women.


For Additional Research

Barkan, Elliot.  From All Points: America’s Immigrant West, 1870s-1952. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 2007.

Brownstone, David, Irene Franck, and Douglass Brownstone.  Island of Hope, Island of Tears. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1979.

Cannato, Vincent J.  American Passage: The History of Ellis Island. New York: HarperCollins, 2009.

Chan, Sucheng. Asian Americans: An Interpretive History. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991.

Chen, Shehong. Becoming Chinese, Becoming Chinese American. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001.

Chin, Tung Pok and Winifred C. Chin. Paper Son: One Man’s Story. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

Choy, Bong-Youn.  Koreans in America. Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1979.

Daniels, Roger.  Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882.  New York: Hill and Wang, 2004.

Higham, John.  Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925. New York: Antheneum, 1978.

Ichioka, Yuji.  The Issei: The World of the First Generation Immigrants, 1885-1924. New York: Free Press, 1998.

Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights and Grace Urban Ministries. Congregational Ministry & Advocacy at the Angel Island Immigration Station, 1910-1940.

Jensen, Joan.  Passage from India: Asian Indian Immigrants in North America. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Gyory, Andrew. Closing the Gate: Race, Politics, and the Chinese Exclusion Act. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Hing, Bill Ong. Making and Remaking Asian America Through Immigration Policy, 1850-1990. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993.

Hsu, Madeline Y. Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and South China, 1882 - 1943. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.

Mae Ngai. The Lucky Ones: One Family and the Extraordinary Invention of Chinese America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010.

McClain, Charles J. In Search of Equality: The Chinese Struggle Against Discrimination in 19th Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994.

Moreno, Barry.  Encyclopedia of Ellis Island. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Ngai, Mae M.  Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Reimers, David. Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to AmericaStill the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America Still the Golden Door: The Third World Comes to America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

Salyer, Lucy. Laws as Harsh as Tigers: Chinese Immigrants and the Shaping of Modern Immigration Law. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

Sanchez, George.  Becoming Mexican American: Ethnicity, Culture, and Identity in Chicano Los Angeles, 1900-1945. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Sarasohn, Eileen Sunada.  Issei Women: Echoes from Another Frontier. Palo Alto: Pacific Books, 1998.

Shah, Nayan.  Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Sunoo, Sonia Shinn.  Korean Picture Brides: A Collection of Oral Histories. Bloomington: Xlibris Corporation, 2002.

Wong, K. Scott and Chan, Sucheng. Claiming America: Constructing Chinese American Identities During the Exclusion Era. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1998.

Wong, Wayne Hung. American Paper Son: A CHINESE IMMIGRANT IN THE MIDWEST (Asian American Experience)American Paper Son: A CHINESE IMMIGRANT IN THE MIDWEST (Asian American Experience) American Paper Son: A Chinese Immigrant in the Midwest. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Yung, Judy, Gordon H. Chang, and Him Mark Lai.  Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to the Present. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.