Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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Wong, Calvin : Calvin Chew Wong's Family: Four Generations of Immigrants by Gerrye Wong
Year of Arrival 1938

Calvin Chew Wong’s family history in America began in 1881 when his great grand-uncle Wong Ock Yen came to America at the age of 17 to San Francisco, California. Although he was the younger brother of Calvin’s great grandfather, Wong Ock Dung, he was sent to America first because the older brother who recently married was expecting his first born son, Calvin’s grandfather Wong Lip Chin. Calvin’s great grandfather eventually came over in 1884 or 1885 as a laborer even though he was educated and could read and write Chinese. Soon after his arrival, he got a job as a bookkeeper for the local Chinese businesses. He eventually earned enough money to buy a grocery store in Alameda, California.

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Wong, Li Keng : Li Keng Gee Wong: Educator, Storyteller, National Treasure by AIISF
Year of Arrival 1933

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Wong, Shee : Teacher, Mother, Wife by Larisa Proulx
Year of Arrival 1922

On November 16, 1922, Wong Shee, a 33-year-old schoolteacher, mother, and wife, arrived in Hong Kong with her 14-year-old son. Leaving their village in China was the first leg of their journey to be with her husband and his father in America. After about ten days in Hong Kong, the mother and son boarded a ship bound for San Francisco.  Her husband, a businessman who operated a meat market in Chinatown, had an attorney prepare their paperwork and awaited their arrival in America. Ahead of them was a journey that required hopeful determination. This is their immigration story.

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Wong, Myron (Yao Nam) : Through a Child’s Eyes: Myron Wong (Wong Yao Nam) and His Immigration Experience by Erika Alvarez
Year of Arrival 1940

Though many detained in the purgatory of Angel Island remember it with no great fondness, for Myron Wong, it was simply part of a boy’s great adventure. It brought the 10-year-old Wong Yao Nam from the mountainous Chinese province of Guandong across the sea to America to live with a father he had never met. It is an immigrant story that begins with ancestors; is triggered, as so many are, by war; is sprinkled with hardships and hard work; and ultimately ends well, with an old man looking back on a full and happy life.

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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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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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Wong, Tyrus : A Profile of Tyrus Wong by Rosalind Chang
Year of Arrival 1920

Immigrant Voices is a collection of stories of Angel Island and Pacific immigrant experiences.  We are proud to present a profile of Tyrus Wong, a renowned artist and kitemaker, as he prepares to celebrate his 100th birthday.

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Wong, Poy (James) : Life in America (Nov 11, 1901 – Jan 4, 1990) by Linda Lum
Year of Arrival 1916

Wong Poy began his life in America with three months of interrogations, but he was finally landed in March 1916.  After working and studying in San Francisco, he moved to Augusta, GA where he spent many years in the grocery business.  He finally settled in Oakland, CA.

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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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X, Nico : Mendoza, Argentina to Reno, Nevada: The American Dream by Hallie Oberg
Year of Arrival 2003

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Xie, Chuang : Imprisonment at Angel Island by Xie Chuang, Introduction by Judy Yung and translation by Charles Egan
Year of Arrival 1923

Introduction by Judy Yung

Xie Chuang 謝創 (aka Xavier Dea) was born in the village of Yijing 以敬, Tangkou 塘口, Kaiping County 開平縣, Guangdong Province 廣東, in 1905, the oldest of five children. His father immigrated to the United States when Xie was six years old. He received an elementary school education and began to participate in revolutionary activities at a young age. Soon after he was married in 1923, he was summoned by his father to join him in America. Leaving behind his wife and the revolutionary cause, Xie said he crossed the Pacific Ocean in tears, only to land at Angel Island. In an interview with a newspaper reporter in 1981, he recalled his stay on Angel Island. “I was detained on Angel Island for over forty days, during which I thought of many things. China was oppressed and had been carved up by foreign aggressors. We Chinese immigrants were just as oppressed. I thought if China were to become strong one day, our status would change. Life at Angel Island reaffirmed my patriotism.”[1]

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Yanagioka, Kane : A Legacy of Love by Judy Kawamoto, edited by Kelsey Owyang
Year of Arrival 1913

In 2010, nearly 100 years after Japanese immigrants Gonpei and Kane Yanagioka reunited in California, AIISF interviewed the couple’s daughter, Shizue. She recounts her immigrant parents’ challenging – but ultimately joyful – life in the United States.

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Yanes, Guillermo : Finding a Home by Hayden Stern
Year of Arrival 1994

Guillermo Yanes was born in El Salvador to poor, peasant parents in the rural countryside. His family worked the land, deeply connected to the soil and plant life of their country. They had clear values and a strong work ethic. Guillermo grew up as someone who worked hard and had distinct morals. His family made sure of this.

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