UC Berkeley provides online
database of Asian immigration

By David Scharfenberg, Daily Planet staff
Friday July 05, 2002

Searching for information about Asian immigration to the United States just got easier thanks to a web site created by UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the federal government’s National Archives and Records Administration. 

The Early Arrivals Records Search database – available on-line at http://groups.haas.berkeley.edu/iber/casefiles – facilitates records searches on people who immigrated to San Francisco and Honolulu, Hawaii, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. 

The database allows the user to determine whether the National Archives has a case file for a particular individual. It provides a case number and displays basic information on the individual’s immigration. 

Citizens and researchers still must travel to the National Archives’ San Bruno office to obtain the full file. 

“Those interested in seeing a file still need to drive to San Bruno to do so, but they can save themselves many steps by using the database first,” said Robert Barde, academic coordinator at the Haas School’s Institute of Business & Economics Research. 

Millions of Asian Americans passed through immigration stations in San Francisco and Honolulu between 1882 and 1955, and many were subject to extensive investigation under the Chinese Exclusion Act, which severely limited legal Chinese immigration. 

The National Archives’ San Bruno office maintains some 250,000 case records on investigations conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. 

A typical case file includes biographical information, family history and other documents. Some files include coaching materials used by “paper sons” – those who posed as the children of already-admitted immigrants to gain entry to the United States. 

Maps of homes and villages in China, marriage certificates and family photos are also included in some files.