Get a copy of your CEA file

[The National Archives is still closed because of COVID-19 but the staff is coming in on a limited basis. Send in your request for a copy of your file and get in the queue.]

If your Chinese ancestor’s initial trip to the United States was through the Port of Seattle, his file is probably at the National Archives facility in Seattle. He may have ended up living in another part of the U.S. but his file would remain in Seattle.  The Chinese Exclusion Act was in effect from 1882 to 1943 so thousands and thousands of case files were created during this time period.

If you would like to initiate a search for your Seattle Chinese Exclusion Act case file, click on Form, and print it out. Gather together your family information and fill in as much of the form as possible.  Mail your request to the National Archives-Seattle, 6125 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115. Or email the information (names, date and place of birth, date and port of entry, places lived, etc.) to  Seattle.archives@nara.govCall (206) 336-5115 if you have any questions.

Records available at other National Archives facilities:

For a comprehensive guide of Chinese Immigration records go to, Chinese Immigration and the Chinese in the United States. It lists the records available at each of the National Archives facilities. [This publication was written in 1996 so check the National Archives website for current locations and addresses.]

Records available at National Archives at Seattle:

Seattle District Office:

  • Chinese exclusion acts case files, 1895-1943 (650 cubic feet.) (Including Helena, Montana; Port Townsend, Seattle, and Sumas, Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia, where the United States consul maintained some records.
  • List of Chinese certificates of identity issued, 1911-1938.
  • Record of arrivals and dispositions of Chinese persons, 1903-1942 (27 cubic feet.)

Portland District Office:

  • Chinese exclusion acts case files, 1891-1943 (84 cubic feet.)
  • Immigration and Naturalization Service Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, Portland, Oregon, 1890-1914, M1638, may be a useful finding aid.
  • Testimony of witnesses, 1893-1894.
  • Partnership books, 1890-1901.
  • Arrest book listing Chinese, 1903-1941.
  • Registers of departing merchants and laborers, 1882-1899.
  • List of Chinese landed and refused in Astoria [Oregon] and Portland, 1893-1903.

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