Dow Papers Highlight Chinese Immigration to the U.S.
View of the Experience at INS
Harry Dow's experience working in the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) served as inspiration for the satirical plays he wrote. They depict the widespread discrimination that Chinese immigrants encountered at INS processing centers such as Ellis Island after passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The act not only stopped immigration from China but also severely limited the rights of Chinese people already living in America.
1950s-era Case File
Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was officially repealed in 1943, the immigration process for Chinese nationals was anything but easy. The lengthy and expensive process involved interviews, blood tests, testimonials, and mounds of paperwork. The following selection of documents is representative of the process -- family photographs, letters, and a "coaching book" used to prepare for the INS interview. The Dow Papers includes hundreds of cases with similar documentation.
The files have been translated and redacted to protect the privacy of the clients. Special thanks to Zi Jing Teoh and Justina Chu for their asistance with the translation and redaction of the records.