Chapter 5: Arriving at Angel Island

Japanese war brides arriving at the Angel Island docks. (Photo © California State Museum Resouce Center)
We sailed for 19 days across the Pacific Ocean until we landed in San Francisco. We had to get off of the U.S.S. Hoover and were transferred to a small tender, a ferry, to go to Angel Island.

Angel Island is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Many immigrants from the Far East were processed at the Angel Island stop.

It is estimated that 175,000 Chinese immigrants came through Angel Island. Immigrants from Korea, the Philippines, and Japan also came through Angel Island, though they were usually not detained as long as Chinese. Many Chinese were detained in Angel Island anywhere from two weeks to several months because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. A few people were detained up to two years!

Some detainees carved Chinese poems on the walls to lament their fate. They were bored, lonely, sad, and isolated in the barracks. By patiently carving poems on the wooden walls, they helped to pass the slow ticking time and to express their frustrations.

My mother, sisters, and I were the only new arrivals that night in late November of 1933. Since our father had already immigrated to the U.S., he did not need to go to Angel Island. He would wait for us in San Francisco.


How would you have felt coming into Angel Island? To learn more about the conditions in Angel Island, click here.

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