Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

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IMMIGRANT VOICES

 

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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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Ly, Andrew : Andrew Ly: From Refugee to CEO and winner of the Immigrant Heritage Award 2011 by Linda Lau
Year of Arrival 1979

We are proud to share the story of Andrew Ly, who fled Vietnam in the aftermath of the U.S.-Vietnam War, and settled in San Francisco. Through hard work and diligent studies and the support of his entire  family, the Ly family enjoys tremendous success in business with the nationally-recognized Sugarbowl Bakery brand.  Mr. Andrew was the recipient of AIISF’s Immigrant Heritage Award on October 1, 2011.

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Ma, Katherine : Portrait of a Female Chinese Immigrant by Janice H. Ma
Year of Arrival 1985

Katherine Kaitak Ma immigrated to the United States in 1985. Growing up in Guangzhou, Katherine and her family worked hard but always felt like there were more opportunities for them elsewhere. “I wanted to do more and live better.” said Katherine. Katherine felt limited under the strict regulation of the communist government and decided to move to Hong Kong as a teen. Leaving her family behind, she immigrated to Hong Kong and started a new life for herself. During the time that she was living there, Hong Kong was a temporary colony of the British Empire. In 1997, it would be back under the control of China. Fearing that she would once again be living under the same limitations as those present in her hometown, Katherine considered moving to the United States.

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Mah, Yel Sen : Pioneer from Cheng Gong by Linda Wing
Year of Arrival 1922

In 1922, Wong Gin Wing brought his wife Mah Yel Sen from China to the United States. They docked at Angel Island after a 30-day trip from Canton with stopovers in Shanghai, Yokohama, and Honolulu. Entering the United States for the third time with a merchant's passport, Wong Gin Wing was immediately released from Angel Island while Mah Yel Sen was detained. He returned the following day and saw many women crowd the second floor windows of the immigration station, eagerly looking for their arriving mates. Wong Gin Wing and the other husbands, previously freed from the detention center returned, bearing dim sum packages for their still detained spouses on "visiting day."

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Makishima, George Akira : George Akira Makishima story by Eva Martinez
Year of Arrival 1940

On May 8, 1940, 19-year-old U.S. citizen George Akira Makishima arrived at the Port of San Francisco on the SS Tatuta Maru. He was returning from Japan where he had lived with his paternal grandparents for nearly a decade.

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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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Marill, Alfred and Klara : From the National Archives’ Angel Island files - One Family’s Story: Alfred Israel Marill and Klara Elizabeth Sara Marill by Lakhpreet "Preeti" Gill
Year of Arrival 1940

Editor's note: Shortly after we posted the profile of Alfred and Klara Marrill, AIISF was contacted by Richard Kobayashi, who is the grandson of Alfred and Klara Marill.  His mother is Alice Marill Kobayashi, who journeyed to the U.S. a year before her parents came through Angel Island.  Richard’s sister Carol  read the profile online and Richard very graciously sent us his grandfather’s detailed account of their journey from Vienna to Angel Island in 1940. Read Alfred's Journal below.

   

Matsuzawa, Atsushi and Kanae  : The Matsuzawas: Nisei Marye Kimoto Remembers Her Family and Its Angel Island Experiences by Nancy F. Fong
Year of Arrival 1911

At 87 and living in Culver City, CA, Marye Kimoto fondly looked back on the lives of her family, which included her issei parents who were first generation Japanese immigrants, as well as her younger sister Bessie and herself, nisei who were the American born children of issei.

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Ming, Jenny Gar-Yee Jang : Fate and the importance of remembering where you came from: The Jenny Ming story by Eva Martinez
Year of Arrival 1964

based on an interview of Jenny Ming by Eddie Wong

In 1955, after waiting for their third child to be born, the Jang family left their home in communist-ruled Canton, China, for the relative safety of Macau.  Macau had been under Portuguese rule since 1887 and the newly established Beijing government was temporarily ignoring the region.

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Monsef, Marcie  : From Tehran to California by Emily T Harris
Year of Arrival 1967

I’ve known Marcie Monsef, or rather she has known me, since my birth. In fact, we share a name: Marzieh, her legal name, is my middle name. Marcie is my stepfather’s mother and has always been an important part of my life.

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Moy, Damon : My Father, Damon Moy by Diane Lo
Year of Arrival 1940

A longtime resident in Sacramento,CA, Mr. Damon Moy immigrated to the U.S. in 1940 and was detained on Angel Island for three months.  After a long career in the food service industry, he and his wife Helen retired in Honolulu where their children now reside.

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Nakamura, Mantsuchi and Sojuro : Mantsuchi and Sojuro Nakamura: Japanese Immigrant Farmers in California’s Central Valley by Grant Din
Year of Arrival 1900

The story of the Nakamura brothers of Japan and Reedley, California, is an example of the challenges many Japanese immigrants faced in the U.S. After many challenges, they were both able to establish farming businesses and raise families, only to find their worlds torn apart shortly after Pearl Harbor when both were arrested and sent to a temporary detention center called Sharp Park, near Pacifica, CA. Older brother Mantsuchi was then sent to Fort McDowell at Angel Island and then to Lordsburg and Santa Fe, New Mexico before finally being reunited with his family at Poston, Arizona, while younger brother Sojuro was reunited with his family earlier at Poston, avoiding the U.S. Army and Department of Justice camps where Mantsuchi was sent. For more information on the use of Angel Island to house Japanese detainees, visit our webpage.

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Nakamura, Kiyoye : Kiyoye Nakamura: Picture Bride by Tene Woo Kember
Year of Arrival 1918

Editor's note: After we posted Tene’s article, we received inquiries about the status of Kiyoye Nakamura. Did we know if she was able to land in the United States (this information for some reason was not in her file)? We did some more research and found the good news that it appears that the Nakamuras were listed in the 1930 census in Vacaville, California, with a three year old son, but the sad news that Kiyoye passed away of cancer in Vacaville in 1937. We also found a ship log showing Toragusu returning to the U.S. in 1940, with no listing for his son and can only speculate that he brought his son back to Japan to be raised.

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