Rhonda, one of National Archives at Seattle’s volunteers, has been looking for documentation on her Chinese/Native American father for years hoping to prove his Native American heritage. While processing records from the Chinese Exclusion files, Rhonda came across a case labeled “Low Yow Edwin” and checked to see if it could possibly be about her father.
Her father, Edwin Law Yow, was a mechanic for the Flying Tigers during the World War II. Before he enlisted he applied for permission to travel abroad, and during the application process his stepmother, Mrs. Law Yow, and other witnesses were called to testify on his heritage. Listed below is his and his stepmother’s testimony where she speaks of her husband’s deathbed confession—just the information Rhonda had been seeking. The interrogation also references a birth certificate in Alaska.
The Seattle file also lists a National Archives at San Francisco file number. Rhonda quickly emailed a request for the search. John Seamans, Archive Technician, at the San Bruno facility found the file. It contained the birth certificate for Low Yow Edwin!
[The Chinese Exclusion Act case files frequently contain a variety of spellings for an individual’s name. Sometimes one of the names might be left out. The Chinese custom is to list the surname first before the other names. At different times an individual may have been referred to by another name–sometimes a school name, a married name, an alias, or an Americanized name.]