May Sophie Lee – Physician from Philadelphia

May Sophie Lee 1924
“May Sophie Lee, Form M143 photo” 1924, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, May Sophie Lee case file, Seattle Box 178, 2850/6-2.May Sophie Lee 李美(Chinese name Lee Soon Wah) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 18 May 1898. Her parents were Lee Toy 李才and Chee Fung. She had a younger brother named John Paul Lee 李進普, born on 9 May 1900.

In October 1908 May Sophie Lee, age ten, her mother and brother were preparing to leave the United States on the SS Siberia through San Francisco for a trip to China. The Immigration inspector examined May Sophie’s passport no. 64231, two affidavits with photos and a certified copy of her birth certificate. The birth certificate states that she is white.

May Sophie Lee passport

May Sophie Lee passport seal
May Sophie Lee’s passport
1908 Affidavit with photos of Lee Toy and May Sophie Lee
1908 Affidavit with photos of Lee Toy and May Sophie Lee
May Sephie Lee's 1898 birth certificate
May Sephie Lee’s 1898 birth certificate

Mr. and Mrs. Lee’s marriage certificate was examined, authenticated and returned to the Lees.  Seven white residents from Philadelphia swore in an affidavit that they were not Chinese; they were well acquainted with Lee Toy, a merchant at Chong Woh Company;  May Sophie Lee was his lawful daughter, and that she was born in Philadelphia.  The signers of the affidavit were:

Signatures on Affidavit
Signatures on Affidavit

Peter Hackett, 50 So. 4th Street
Frederic Poole, Chinese Mission, 918 Race St.
William Gallagher, 1231 Arch Street
Thomas W. Cunningham, 2112 Cherry Street
Katharine A. Lacy, Principal John Agnus School
Florence B. Scott, First Baptist Church, 17th & Samson St.
Neida S. Gilman, teacher in John Agnus School

While in China May Sophie attended school until she was 21 then attended medical school in Canton City and received a medical degree. She practiced as a physician in Shanghai for over a year before returning to the U.S.

May Sophie Lee was admitted to the United States at the Port of Seattle on 15 December 1924 as a returning citizen. She was 27 years old and was on her way to the Chung Wah & Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with plans to continue her medical career.

[There is no further information in the file.]

2 thoughts on “May Sophie Lee – Physician from Philadelphia

  1. Every once in a while I like to do a little “light research” on these families. In 1910, May Sophie Lee lived in Philadelphia with her family (parents, brother and boarders). In 1925 Mary Sophia Lee married Harold M. An in Manhattan, NY, who was born in China in 1897 (FS, index: parent’s names align). She entered the US on the SS Hamburg, sailing out of Hamburg, in 1933. At that time she is recorded as May Sophie Lee Au. She is single and traveling seemingly alone.

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