From 1910 to 1940, over half a million people sailed through the Golden Gate, hoping to start a new life in America. But they did not all disembark in San Francisco; instead, most were ferried across the bay to the Angel Island Immigration Station. For many, this was the real gateway to the United States. For others, it was a prison and their final destination, before being sent home. In this landmark book, historians Erika Lee and Judy Yung (both descendants of immigrants detained on the island) provide the first comprehensive history of the Angel Island Immigration Station. Drawing on extensive new research, including immigration records, oral histories, and inscriptions on the barrack walls, the authors produce a sweeping yet intensely personal history of Chinese "paper sons," Japanese picture brides, Korean 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.
A place of heartrending history and breathtaking beauty, the Angel Island Immigration Station is a National Historic Landmark, and like Ellis Island, it is recognized as one of the most important sites where America's immigration history was made. This fascinating history is ultimately about America itself and its complicated relationship to immigration, a story that continues today. Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award for Adult Non-Fiction Winner of the Western History Association Caughey Prize "A kaleidoscope of immigrant portraits that bring history alive, and, in the process, demolishes many myths and stereotypes about Angel Island and American immigration in general." -San Francisco Chronicle "The definitive book on Angel Island...Lee and Yung have used the personal stories of immigrants to make time and place come alive, reminding us that history is something that happens to real people and their families." -Lisa See, author of On Gold Mountain