Book Recommendations - Adults
- Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America by Erika Lee and Judy Yung
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.
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.”
- Immigration at the Golden Gate: Passenger Ships, Exclusion, and Angel Island by Robert Eric Barde
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.
- Images of America: Angel Island. By Bramwell Fanning and William Wong
This photo history book has an extensive chapter on the history of the immigration station and on AIISF's efforts to preserve the site.
- Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 - Second Edition by Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, Judy Yung
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.
- Miwoks to Missiles: A History of Angel Island by John Soennichsen
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.
This is the first comprehensive study of how U.S. immigration policies have shaped - demographically, economically, and socially - the six largest Asian American communities: Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Asian Indian.
- The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee
A “comprehensive…fascinating” (The New York Times Book Review) history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, by one of the nation’s preeminent scholars on the subject.
Book Recommendations - Children and Teens
- Kai's Journey to Gold Mountain by Katrina Saltonstall Currier
This picture book for children (ages 7+) 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.
- Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain by Russell Freedman
Newberry Medal winner Freedman presents a thorough history of the immigration station in historical context, with many excellent photographs interspersed with poetry. For ages 10-12.
- The Chinese American Family Album by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler
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. For ages 12 – 17.
- The Japanese American Family Album by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler
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. For ages 12 – 17.
- Paper Son: Lee’s Journey to America by Helen Foster James and Virginia Shin-Mui Loh (illustrated by Wilson Ong)
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. For ages 7-11.
- Landed by Milly Lee (illustrated by Yangsook Choi)
In this picture book for 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. For ages 7 – 11.
- Good Fortune: My Journey to Gold Mountain by Li Keng Wong
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. For ages 8 – 12.
- The Dragon’s Child: A Story of Angel Island by Laurence & Kathleen S. Yep
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. For ages 11+.
- The Chinese Exclusion Act by Ric Burns and Li-Shin You
Steeplechase Films, 2017. Watch the trailer here
- Separate Lives, Broken Dreams by Jennie Lew and Yvonne Lee.
Center for Asian American Media, 1994
- Carved in Silence by Felicia Lowe
Felicia Lowe Productions, 1987
- Chinese Couplets by Felicia Lowe
Lowedown Productions, 2015
Chinese American Exclusion/Inclusion at the Chinese Historical Society of America
965 Clay Street
San Francisco, CA 94108