Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Case Files of Chinese Immigrants (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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Foreign Language Title
Collection Time Period
This collection includes records for the years 1900 to 1923.
This collection includes case files for Chinese immigrants arriving through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the years 1900 to 1923. This collection corresponds to NARA publication M1144: Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1895-1920, from District No. 4 (Philadelphia) of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
A detailed Romanized surname index is provided in alphabetical order on pages 8-96 (image #13-101) with corresponding case numbers listed. A separate index of ship names is on pages 97-117 (image #102-122). A table of the 51 rolls of microfilm included in this collection is also given with corresponding case numbers contained in each roll listed on pages 118-119 (image #123-124).
These records usually include the following information:
- Ship name
- Date of arrival
How to Use the Record
Begin your search by finding your ancestors in the index. Name indexes make it possible to access a specific record quickly. Check the index for the surname and then the given name. You may need to look at many entries to find the one you are seeking. Remember that these indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings, misinterpretations, and optical character recognition errors if the information was scanned.
When searching the index it is helpful to know the full name of your ancestor and the approximate date of immigration. If you do not know this information, check the census records after 1900.
Use the locator information found in the index (such as name of the ship, page, or entry number) to locate your ancestors in the records. Compare the information in the record to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct person. You may need to compare the information of more than one person to make this determination.
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. For example:
Use passenger lists to:
- Learn an immigrant’s place of origin
- Confirm their date of arrival
- Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
- Find records in his or her country of origin such as emigrations, port records, or ship’s manifests.
You may also find these tips helpful:
- If your ancestor had a common name, be sure to look at all the entries for a name before you decide which is correct.
- Continue to search the passenger lists to identify siblings, parents, and other relatives in the same or other generations who may have immigrated at the same time.
- If your ancestor has an uncommon surname, you may want to obtain the passenger list of every person who shares your ancestor’s surname if they lived in the same county or nearby. You may not know how or if they are related, but the information could lead you to more information about your own ancestors.
If you do not find the name you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings. Realize that the indexes may contain inaccuracies, such as altered spellings and misinterpretations.
- Try a different index if there is one for the years needed. You may also need to search the passenger lists year by year.
- Search the indexes of other port cities.
Please note that when you select an image to view, sometimes the manifest includes more than one page, and when you use the "click to enlarge manifest" link, the image that appears is not always the first page of the record. You may need to click on the "previous" or "next" links to view the remaining pages of the full manifest.
The files are part of the records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group (RG) 85, and are housed in the Federal Archives and Records Center, Philadelphia, Pa.
Why this Record Was Created
These case files were prepared by the staff of the regional office to enforce the various Chinese exclusion acts passed by Congress during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The information was supplied by the immigrant or a traveling companion (usually a family member). Incorrect information was occasionally given, or mistakes may have been made when the clerk guessed at the spelling of foreign names.
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Related Wiki Articles
Pennsylvania Emigration and Immigration
Contributions to This Article
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Sources of Information for This Collection
“Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1900-1923,” database, FamilySearch (http://familysearch.org/); from District No. 4 (Philadelphia) of the Immigration and Naturalization Service. NARA M1144. FHL microfilm, Family History Library Salt Lake City, Utah.
Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should also list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for citing FamilySearch Historical Collections, including how to cite individual archives is found in the following link: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections
Examples of Source Citations for a Record in This Collection
"Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Case Files for Chinese Immigrants, 1900-1923." index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org): accessed April 15, 2011. entry for Moy Quong; citing Immigration Files, 0001A-018C, Images 20-25; District 4 of the Immigration and Naturalization Service NARA M1144.