Connecting families to the files…

CEA Files Blog Collage

[Photos and documents from the Chinese Exclusion Act case files at the National Archives at Seattle]

One of my goals with this blog is to show people the assortment of information found in the Chinese Exclusion Act case files. I want people to know how valuable these files are and urge them to search the files for their families. Sometimes the files give unique information on a family, a native village or a photo never before seen. The files do not give a complete biography but may have information and photos that cannot be found anywhere else. The files usually list other family members and often have interrogations and/or affidavits from friends, neighbors, or business associates. Anyone, whether a family descendant, historical researcher, newspaper reporter, film maker, or someone interested in the social conditions during this time period, should explore these files.

The following are a few comments from people who have made a connection with the files through the blog.

28 June 2020, Stephen Artick:
Edward F Artick was my paternal grandfather. I was very interested to read the information about his early life. I knew some of that information but also learned new things…”

18 Dec 2018,  Dr. Jeffrey L. Staley:
“I read with deep interest, the article in the Seattle Times a few days ago, entitled “We’ve got to learn from that,” since I have been working with my wife’s family’s “Exclusion Files” for many years. One of the files mentioned in the article’s associated blog caught my attention. It is the file of Nelson Wah Chan King . Nelson’s mother Lily Shem and her younger sister, May, were both raised at the Methodist “Oriental Home” in San Francisco, where my wife’s grandmother was also raised. I have a bit of further information about both girls from Methodist records. Along with my wife’s grandmother and six other Chinese children, May Shem sang for President Theodore Roosevelt in the White House on November 5, 1908. Since May’s childhood parallels that of my wife’s grandmother, four chapters of my novel “Gum Moon” would reflect part of Lily and May’s childhood as well. “

3 Aug 2018, Kam Yee:
“I want to take a moment to thank you and your team of volunteers who work on the Chinese Exclusion files. I enjoyed reading the personal stories on the blog and it’s healing for me to see our Chinese American community stories to be told. My grandpa, Jack Him Lam, was a paper son who arrived in 1923 (I think). I have been trying to learn more about him and seeing your work helps me feel hope that one day I’ll find more pieces of his life in Seattle. Thanks for all that you do and keep up the good work!“

13 June 2018 Elana Eng Lim:
“Regarding the visual of the letterhead for Woo Gen case: “Wa Chong Co. Importers, letterhead” 1903, Chinese Exclusion Act case files, RG 85, National Archives-Seattle, Woo Back (Bak) Sue(y) case file, Seattle, Box 756, 7030/10966. Woo Gen was a witness for my grandfather, Ark Wing Ng, Case #38223/2-8, and his re-admittance May 14, 1908. I would like to include an image of the letterhead in a book… “

11 Sept 2017 John Gong:
“…You featured my grandfather Arthur Chin (Chin Suey Tin) on July 2, 2017…  There is information in the article that I had no idea existed or things that happened to him.”

A follow up email from John Gong:
“…I am truly amazed; I have never seen that photograph of my grandfather previously. I was very fortunate to have inherited my grandfather’s entire Chinese Air Force and China National Aviation Corporation collection from 1932-1950. I spent many summer in Portland with my grandparents and from a very early age took interest in my grandfather’s military career…so he instructed my grandmother to give me the collection.”

“After reading your blog, I was so emotional. I had no idea this happened to my grandfather, I shed a few tears and had a difficult time sleeping last night. I shared your blog with family members, and they were equally surprised. I cannot imagine making such a decision (at a young age) to leave his home/family to go fight a war in a foreign country and then lose your citizenship! On a side note, my grandfather did not graduate high school because he left to fight the Japanese. My grandfather and I graduated high school the same year in 1986! ! I cannot thank you enough for finding such a great photograph of my grandfather and for enlightening our family on what happened to my grandfather. He kept this chapter of his life a secret and I can now understand his distrust of the government.”

25 March 2017,  Richard Lou:
“… I just found this amazing website and you have an article about my father. Sort of. My father wrote his name as Lou Yet Ming and in your article which I recognize is from Immigration documents you have him as Lou Yuck Ming… I have some of the documents about his brother Lou Yuck Hong – his Pre-Investigation Application, his Statement, and Certificate of Identity. We believe my father was a “paper son.” He served in the U.S. M.C during WWII under his name as Lou Yet Ming… “

TO GET A COPY OF A FILE:    [The National Archives is closed now because of COVID-19]

When NARA reopens, download the request form, fill out as much as you can, and email it to  

Or when NARA is open again, call (206) 336-5115 for assistance.

Good luck with your search!

Trish Hackett Nicola