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Press Release
July 28, 2004


Contact: Susan Cooper (202) 501-5526


National Archives Presents Databases For "Chinese Exclusion Act" (Rg 85) Records

CHICAGO, IL -- The National Archives Great Lakes Region announces the creation of two new databases for the so-called "Chinese Exclusion Act" records of the Immigration & Naturalization Service (RG 85). While these records have been available for research at the Great Lakes Regional Archives for several years, these finding aids will enable genealogists, scholars, academics and the general public to more fully explore the information contained within the files.

From 1882 to 1943 the United States Government severely curtailed immigration from China to the United States. This Federal policy resulted from concern over the large numbers of Chinese who had come to the United States in response to the need for inexpensive labor, especially for construction of the transcontinental railroad. Competition with American workers and a growing nativism brought pressure for restrictive action. A series of Chinese Exclusion Acts (1882-1943), as they came to be known, were designed to stem the flow of Chinese laborers and immigrants into the country.

The new databases include over 6,000 name entries for Chinese immigrants and laborers who lived and worked in the Midwest for the 1898-1942 time period in both INS District No. 9, Chicago (66 cubic feet), and INS District No. 10, St. Paul (9 cubic feet). The lists provide the name of the individual and a corresponding case file number. Case files can contain a photograph and physical description of the individual, transcripts of interrogation by INS officials, correspondence pertaining to the case, and detailed information about the individualís family, resident village in China, and profession. The lists are available online on the National Archives and Records Administration-Great Lakes Region home page at: http://www.archives.gov/facilities/il/chicago/finding_aids.html

This important finding aid was compiled by National Archives volunteer Mr. Gene Moy, Chicago resident and President of the Chicago Chinese American Historical Society. Mr. Moy compiled an initial database as part of his Masters program in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His work will assist future researchers in accessing the records.

For more information about these records and the databases, please contact the National Archives and Records Administration-Great Lakes Region at (773) 948-9001 or E-mail: chicago.archives@nara.gov

See also:

Lowell, Waverly, B. Comp., Chinese Immigration and Chinese in the United States: Records in the Regional Archives of the National Archives and Records Administration, Reference Information Paper 99, National Archives and Records Administration, 1996.

Christoff, Peggy. Tracking the "Yellow Peril:" The INS and Chinese Immigrants in the Midwest. Picton Press (Rockport, Maine), 2001.

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