National Angel Island Day by Celtic

January 21st, 2010 has been declared National Angel Island Day to reflect on and recognize the 100 year history of the island involving Asian immigration to America. Located in the San Francisco Bay, the island contains the remaining structures of the Angel Island Immigration Station - the Western counterpart of Ellis Island - where many of the Asian people hoping to find opportunities between 1910 and 1940 were detained - sometimes for years.

The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 had a direct effect on many of the hopeful immigrants from China especially. This particular act caused the creation of "paper-sons" as immigrants tried to claim children they were not related to in order to help more of their people through the difficult immigration process. There are American families today who are still affected by the secret of being descended from a paper-son (or daughter) - people who bear family names that are not actually their own.

Once scheduled for demolition to make way for a new park, the Angel Island Immigration Station is now designated a National Historic Landmark and was recently renovated. The late Paul Qingpoy Chow
(1928 to 1998), was an important and instrumental voice in salvaging and preserving the history of the island's role in Asian immigration to the West. One of the more poignant elements left behind by the roughly one million Asian souls to pass through the immigration station are the many poems and other written thoughts carved into the building walls.

Some of the poems have been collected and translated into a book, still currently available for purchase at sites such as Amazon, called:

Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910 - 1940

ISBN 0-295-97109-6

The following are online sites that contain much of the Angel Island story as well as foundations working hard to preserve this history for future generations:

Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

Angel Island Association

Angel Island Poetry

Angel Island Immigrant Journeys

Robert Hong is a former detainee at Angel Island. He revisited the site in this short interview:

This film was produced by Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. Directed & edited by Jeffrey Gee Chin.

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