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05 March 2020

"Paper Sons and Picture Brides" in NGS Magazine

Exciting news! The cover of the newly published January-March issue of NGS Magazine features an article by CGS members Grant Din and Linda Okazaki. "Paper Sons and Picture Brides" is an in-depth look at Record Group 85 found at the National Archives in San Francisco. This group of records, titled "Immigration Arrival Investigation Case Files, 1884-1944," contains information about immigrants to California during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a particularly rich source for those researching their Chinese and Japanese ancestors, who often had to employ strategy to enter the U.S. at a time of heightened anti-Asian sentiment. Many prominent Asian Americans, from architect I. M. Pei to Congressman Norman Mineta, trace their ancestry to these early immigrants.

Beautifully illustrated with photographs and documents, Din's and Okazaki's article offers a broad historical overview that gives context to these documents. It also has a sidebar explaining how the activism of a group of genealogists and historians saved these files from destruction. The article includes anecdotes that show the sometimes grueling experience of Asian immigrants: an eight-year-old Chinese boy was grilled with more than 100 questions, including details of his village, house, school and neighbors, before he was allowed to join his father; a teenaged American citizen was detained for ten days upon returning to the U.S. from Japan. Din and Okazaki offer detailed information on how to access and interpret the files.

National Genealogical Society members can view the magazine online at the NGS website:

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