Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month got its start as a congressional bill, inspired by Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Week, with the mission of bringing attention to the contributions Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have made to the history and culture of the United States.
But did you know the whole thing was inspired by the work of two dedicated women? Jeanie Jew and Ruby Moy, who work on Capital Hill, spearheaded a campaign to get congressional support for their cause.
As a result of their lobbying, in June 1977 Reps. Frank Horton (NY) and Norman Y. Mineta (CA) introduced a resolution that called for the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. The following month, senators Daniel Inouye (HI) and Spark Matsunaga (HI) introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating an annual celebration.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension turning it into a month-long celebration. And in 1992, the official designation of May as Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month was signed into law.
Over the years we have had the honor of recognizing many Asian American and Pacific Islander American women in our list of Women’s History Honorees:
Fred W. Taylor, Controller of Chinese Immigration for the Port of Vancouver, B. C. swore in an affidavit in the case of Loey King, also known as Lew King 雷權 or Loey Koon, that the document he reviewed was a true copy of Lew King’s application for admission to Canada.
[It is really highly unusual that a copy of Loey King (Lew King)’s 22-page Canadian file is included in his Seattle file.]
Lew King’s Canadian record was made in accordance with the laws of the Dominion of Canada, the Chinese Immigration Act of 1906, as amended by acts assented to July 20, 1908, and July 25, 1917. [A copy of the Act was included in the file.]
On 23 August 1920, Wong Wamfong [or Wam Fong] swore in an affidavit that he was manager of the Man Sing Lung Company at 92 Pender Street East, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The business, started in March 1919, was registered as a partnership. They dealt with groceries, general merchandise, and drugs. Lew King was a member of the partnership, a merchant, and was interested in coming to Vancouver from Hong Kong to become an active partner.
Louis Gar On swore in an affidavit in August 1920 that he was managing partner of the Man Sang Lung Company in Victoria, B.C. He claimed that Lew King had been a partner for several years of the company in Victoria and was also registered as a partner of Man Sing Lung Company in Vancouver. He believed that Lew King should be entitled to enter Canada exempt from the $500 capitulation tax.
In Lew King’s interrogation, he testified that he was a merchant for Man Sing Lung Co. in Vancouver, B.C. He arrived in Vancouver on 23 November 1920. This was reported in Vancouver file number 1316/1398. His exemption as a merchant was rejected and he was admitted after paying the $500 head tax. In his statement and declaration for registration he said that he was a salesman. He was born at Ing Gar Hong, Sin Ning district, China about 1892.
Lew King left Vancouver and was admitted at the Port of Seattle in August 1921 as a Section 6 Merchant. When Lew King applied for his laborer’s return certificate in 1935, the Seattle immigration office chose to verify Lew King’s original admission in Vancouver in 1921 even though he had made two trips to China since his admittance. The Vancouver office initially recommended that Lew King not be approved. Seattle asked Vancouver to reexamine their file. Roy M Porter, Immigrant Inspector in Seattle, reviewed their report. Porter did not think there was sufficient evidence to prove that Lew King admission to the Canada or the U.S. in 1921 was fraudulent. He reasoned that if the admittance was disapproved, Lew King’s appeal would probably be sustained so he recommended that his laborer’s return certificate be approved.
At the time of his interview to leave the U.S. on 5 April 1935, Lew King presented treasury bond No. 57451A for $1,000 as proof of his statutory right for a laborer’s return certificate. He left the bond with the Goon Dip Company at 415 7th Avenue South in Seattle. He was reminded by immigration authorities that the bond must be intact in the U.S. at the time of his return to be entitled to legal readmission.
Lew King (married name Doon Hen) was 42 years old and living at 214 Washington Street in Seattle. He left Seattle on 13 April 1935 on the S.S. President McKinley.
According to section 7 of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1888, as amend, Chinese laborers were required to return within one year. 1
There is no more information in Lew King’s file and nothing in the file to indicate why he did not return but in September 1937, Marie A. Proctor, district commissioner of the Seattle District Immigration Office, canceled the certificate of identity #56504 issued to Lew King as a laborer.
1. Green Haywood Hackworth. Digest of International Law: Chapters IX – XI., Volume 3, “Chapter XI, Aliens,” (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1942), 792. (books.google.com: accessed 12 May 2020.)
On board the S.S. President Madison, between San Francisco and Victoria, British Columbia, near the Port of Seattle, a baby girl was born to a Chinese couple. Immigrant officers came on board to interview the father. A statement was taken from Jung Fat, also known as Carlos Chon, on 14 October 1932, His wife, Maria Adelelma Ley was present during the interrogation.
Jung Fat was born about 1901 in Gow Gong City, Nam Hay District, China. In 1914 he sailed from Hong Kong to Mazatlán, Mexico where he was lawfully admitted and eventually became a merchant. He married Maria Adelelma Ley on 28 December 1929 at Comolote, State of Sinaloa, Mexico. Both were “full-blooded Chinese.” Maria was born at Acoponetto, State of Durango, Mexico. Her parents died when she was young, and she was adopted by a Spanish woman. She grew up speaking Spanish and a little Chinese. Jung Fat had never been back to China and Maria had always lived in Mexico. They were not deported from Mexico, but the Mexican government appropriated their grocery and merchandise business. They used all their money to cross the border from Mexico to the United States near Nogales, Arizona. Their daughter, Jung Hong Lin or Auchalina Chon, about age two, was with them. The family was taken into custody by immigration officers, taken to San Diego, and put on a ship to San Francisco. From there, they boarded the S.S. Emma Alexander. Maria gave birth to a baby girl at 10 p.m. on 5 October at Latitude 44° 24’ North, Longitude 124°, 51’ West, on the high seas enroute from San Francisco to Victoria, B.C., Canada.
A few days later after interviewing the family, T. W. Lynch from the Seattle Immigration office sent a letter to the office in San Francisco giving them information on the birth and the El Paso file numbers of the parents and their older daughter, Jung Hong Lin.
[Because of the birth at sea near Seattle, I thought there might be a newspaper article on it. This is what I found:]
On Friday, 7 October 1932, page 14, the Seattle Daily Times published a dramatic account of the birth:
“Father Neptune to Guide Destinies of Little China Emma.” “There is an old legend which says that Father Neptune and the guardian spirits of the sea watch over the destinies of those mortals who are born on shipboard, protecting them through storm and tempest and guiding their voyages safely to port…”
Daniel McLellan, M.D., a passenger from Vancouver, B.C. delivered the baby. Mrs. Alice Hooker and Mrs. Grace L. Steward arranged to have Mrs. Chon moved from her third-class cabin on the after deck to a roomy stateroom. It was suggested that the baby be named Emma Alexander Wong [sic] but the document certifying her birth gives her name as Chon Chow Ling.
Back to the file:
“Chon Chow Ling, Certification of birth” 1932, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, [name not listed on case file], Seattle Box 853, file 7031/450.
[It is very unusual to have a file without a name listed.]
On October 15, the family left for China on the S.S. President Madison. Jung Fat left China as a child and Maria had never been there. They were penniless with a toddler and a new-born infant. China was just recovering for the Han–Liu Civil War. They planned to reside with relatives in Gow Gong City.
[NARA volunteer Hao-Jan Chang brought this file to my attention. THN]
Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee is a deceased honoree of the National Women’s History Alliance for her work on women’s suffrage. This March we are celebrating Women’s History Month and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. Although Dr. Lee was unable to vote because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, she worked to see the passing of women’s suffrage in New York State.
This blog entry is to honor Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee. She does not have a file at the National Archives at Seattle. Her file 12,943, box 68 is at National Archives at New York City. She does appear on a passenger list when she arrived in Seattle on 30 September 1937.
The following entry and sketch are from National Women’s History Alliance
Dr. Mabel Ping-Hua Lee – 1896-1966
Suffragist, member of the Women’s Political Equality League [photo]
Mabel Ping-Hua Lee was born in 1896 in Guangzhou, China. The daughter of a Baptist minister, Lee emigrated to the United States and attended Barnard College and Columbia University. Upon earning her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1921, she became the first Chinese American woman to obtain that degree in economics. Her dissertation, The Economic History of China, was published in 1921.
Lee had a long history of suffrage activism and believed achieving votes for women was an important step for both American and Chinese women. At the age of 16 she participated in the 1912 suffrage parade in New York where she helped lead this parade while on horseback. Lee was a member of the Women’s Political Equality League and in 1915 gave an important speech titled “China’s Submerged Half” which was covered by the New York Times. In this speech she said:
“The welfare of China and possibly its very existence as an independent nation depends on rendering tardy justice to its womankind. For no nation can ever make real and lasting progress in civilization unless its women are following close to its men if not actually abreast with them.”
Lee’s work on behalf of suffrage successfully led to the 1917 passage of women’s suffrage in the state of New York. However due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, Lee herself was not allowed to vote that year and it is unknown whether she ever voted. After the death of her father, Lee served as head of the First Chinese Baptist Church located in Chinatown in New York City starting in 1924. She then went on to create a Chinese Christian Center, which provided kindergarten and English classes as well as a health clinic.
Dr. Mabel Lee is now being recognized for her pioneering work in advocating for both women’s rights and rights for Asian Americans. Today the Mabel Lee Memorial Post office located at 6 Doyers Street in New York City is named in her honor.
Check out Linda Yip’s Past Presence website. It includes everything you would like to know about the Canadian Chinese Exclusion Act and genealogy in general.
The March 8, 2020 entry for Women’s History Month features Aileen Won Cumyow.
Aileen, a resident of Vancouver, B.C. was applying to visit Seattle, Washington in June 1925.
Linda Yip obtained Aileen Won Cumyow’s file from the National Archives at Seattle and wrote up Aileen’s story. It is a fascinating read.