c. 1918
7.5 in HIGH x 5 in WIDE x 5 in DEEP
(19.05 cm HIGH x 12.70 cm WIDE x 12.70 cm DEEP)
Gift of Mrs. Marjorie C. Fluno

Chinese case

Book. Description: Chinese, twine-bound, paperback; prepared in connection with a visa case 1918. History: found by donor and her husband in a second-hand baby carriage which they purchased in Sacramento. For background information on the possible contents of the book, see letter in donor's file. (cmt 3/94) Contains individual photographs of Chinese boys. Appears to be some sort of record. Notation apparently refers to the ship Ruth Alexander. (D. Cooper 10-94) From letter in donor file: This is an odd document. It is not a "diary", nor is it a "family history." Our guess is that it was prepared in connection with a Chinese visa case. After the Chinese exclusion laws were passed in 1882, it became very difficult for Chinese to enter the United States. One exception to the exclusion was for children of Chinese who had already been legally admitted into the United States. Many Chinese men came to the U.S. without their families. They may have fathered children before their departure from China, or on a return visit. These children would usually remain in China until young manhood (working age) and then might seek admission. The very different social customs in China at the time, and the absence in China of formal marriage and birth records (in the Western sense), made these cases complicated and difficult. A visa to the United States was extremely valuable and it was strongly suspected (sometimes apparently with good basis) that some of the "paternity" applications were fraudulent. The U.S. immigration officers customarily made rather exhaustive investigation by interview with the applicant, his sponsor (father in the U.S.), and other persons who claimed to know the family and thus able to substantiate the claimed relationship. What we have here purports to be the record of an interview had by the immigration authorities with a Chinese man [surname: Li (Lee); given name: Chi (Gee)] on his arrival at Seattle, February 22, 1918, aboard the President McKinley. It deals exclusively with his family in China, and the details of their home there. It includes such details as the description of his family property, neighbors, children, relatives, etc. The purpose of the interview seems to have been the visa applications of Mr. Li's four older sons (see photos at rear of written matter). It seems as though the two elder sons had received visas (at least there are numbers cited without specification). But the third and fourth sons (pictures are in order of age) had been refused. This may have been prepared by the Immigration Service interviewer (or rather by his interpreter) but this is not stated. It seem more likely that it was prepared by the man interviewed (Mr. Li Chi), though if so it was quite a feat of memory. If this is the case, we can assume that he wished to have a record for the guidance and information of other people who might also be interviewed by the Immigration authorities in connection with the application of of his sons (or purported sons). Perhaps it is intended to help conformity in the stories of other people. I am sorry we can't be more specific about this document. It seems more a curiosity than a valuable historic document. There is no way of knowing whether the statements are even true. Very truly, John S. Service Specialist
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