Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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Lee, Show Nam : “We were real, so there was no need to be afraid.” Lum Ngow’s Long Stay on Angel Island by Judy Yung
Year of Arrival 1935

On February 5, 1935, fifteen-year-old Lum Ngow and his mother Ow Soak Yong arrived in San Francisco from China on the President Taft.  They had come to join his father Lum Bew, a merchant who ran Lung Kee, a Chinese poultry and deli in Oakland Chinatown.  Family members of the merchant class were exempt from the Chinese Exclusion Act and they should have been admitted into the country.  Instead, mother and son were detained on Angel Island for eighteen months, fighting a legal battle to prove they were in fact the son and wife of Lum Bew. 

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Lee, Charlie : A Family Profile of the Charlie Lee and Mary Sullivan Family by Marilyn Lee McConnell
Year of Arrival 1911

My name is Marilyn Lee McConnell, and I am a member of the Ng family.  I grew up in Oakland, California, not knowing that I belonged to the Ng/Eng family. Why was that?

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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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Lee Masters, Margaret : Margaret Lee Masters, M.D. (Lee Jee Jung): From Churches to Pediatrics by Larisa Proulx
Year of Arrival 1900

In the early fall of 1940, sixteen-year-old Lee Jee Jung (Margaret) left war-torn Hong Kong with her seventeen-year-old brother Lee See Jung (Philip) to go to America. Margaret’s father, Rev. Shau Yan Lee, had sent for them.  Eleven years ago, he himself had gone to America to be a Baptist minister to the Chinese in Northern California and later, Mississippi and Texas.  Initially, Margaret’s father did not intend on bringing her to America. However, due to the death of her oldest sister and brother in China from typhoid fever around the time of the Japanese invasion in Canton, and her second oldest sister being no longer a minor, she and her brother were selected to join their father in America.

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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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Leong, Quong : From Immigrant to Flower Grower by Helen Leong
Year of Arrival 1915

A life of hard work as a gardener in San Francisco leads Leong Quong to become a prize-winning flower grower in Milpitas, California.

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Lew, Wing Din : We are proud of him by Robert Lew
Year of Arrival 1930

Wing Din Lew was nine years old when he left his mother in China to travel to America to live with a person he had never met, his father.  Three years later, in 1933, Wing’s father died of cancer.  Wing survived the Great Depression as an orphan and ultimately built a thriving family.

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Li, Beleza : On the meaning of being Chinese by Daughter of Beleza
Year of Arrival 1950

Beleza was born and raised in Brazil, and has been living in the Bay Area for over seven years. As the daughter of Chinese immigrants in Brazil and an immigrant herself in the United States, she has witnessed the struggles and difficulties of newcomers. She has seen how cultural and language barriers prevent even the most hardworking from successfully adapting, and how broken immigration laws also prevent high-achieving students from becoming active members in society. Beleza's work towards social justice include teaching  at-risk youth, writing for ethnic media, and mentoring immigrant students.

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Lim, Fook Keung : Biography (January 3, 1909 – February 20, 1986) by Hazel Lim Hoshiko
Year of Arrival 1923

Daughter Hazel Lim shares the wide arc of her father’s life, who was detained on Angel Island at age 15, worked in San Francisco Chinatown restaurants in his youth, served in the Army-Air Force in World War II, and retired in San Gabriel as a grocery store owner.

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Louie, Stephen : Chinese Interpreter by Jim Huen
Year of Arrival Born in U.S.

Interview of Stephen Louie
Chinese Interpreter, 1949 to 1954, US Immigration Office, San Francisco

Angel Island Immigration Station operated from 1910 to late 1940 when a fire closed the Station.  The U.S. Immigration office then moved to a temporary location in San Francisco at 801 Silver Avenue and operated there until 1944 when a new permanent immigration facility was built and opened at 630 Sansome Street.  It was also known as the U.S. Appraisers Building, housing other federal agencies.  This facility is still an active immigration office under its current name United States Citizenship and Immigration Services under the Department of Homeland Security.  Little has been written about these two San Francisco immigration facilities.

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Low, Raymond : A Remembrance of Raymond Low by Arthur Low
Year of Arrival 1938

Arthur Low traces the life of his father from humble beginnings in Toisan. China to life in Sacramento, CA.  Despite difficult times, Raymond Low worked hard at two jobs, bought a house and raised four children with his wife Yvonne.  Today, his grandson, Evan Low is the Mayor of Campbell,CA.

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Low, Dick (Ko Shew) : A Tribute to My Father, Dick Low, on his 90th birthday, 1995 by Kenneth Ko Low
Year of Arrival 1921

Ko Shew immigrated to the U.S. in 1921 under the name Dick Low.  He worked hard throughout his life, starting out as a farm laborer and eventually becoming a department store manager.  Kenneth Ko Low reflects upon the many gifts and life lessons his father bestowed upon him.

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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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