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Winter 2003 CalBusiness  
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Public Can Now Research Asian Immigration on Web

A new web site designed by the Haas School and the Institute of Business & Economics Research (IBER) facilitates the search of records on early Asian immigrants who entered the San Francisco and Honolulu ports in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Several million people passed through the immigration stations in San Francisco and Honolulu between 1882 and 1955. Asian Americans were often subject to extensive investigation, and many of these investigations are documented in nearly 250,000 Immigration and Naturalization Service case records maintained at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in San Bruno, California.

The Early Arrivals Records Search (EARS) database – available on the Web at http://groups.haasberkeley.edu/iber/casefiles – was created from data compiled by the Pacific Region of NARA. The database documents whether or not a file exists on a certain name, and if so, what the file number is. It also contains the port of departure and arrival, the vessel name, and the date of arrival for many of the immigrants. Although interested parties will still need to visit the NARA office in San Bruno to see the file, they can save a step by checking the web site first.

A typical case file may contain a person’s biographical data and family history and may hold certificates of identity and residency, correspondence, and coaching materials used by “paper sons,” immigrants who gained entry to the United States by posing as sons of already-admitted immigrants. It may also contain official immigration documentation and verbatim transcripts of INS interrogations.

The research on early Asian immigration by Robert Barde, academic coordinator at the IBER, inspired this new Web-accessible database.

Instructions on how to use the database and information about NARA’s San Bruno office are available on the EARS web site.

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