Chinese Poems

The Case:

In the first half of the 20th century, nearly 250,000 Chinese immigrants attempted to enter the United States.

Because of discrimination against Chinese and laws meant to impede their passage, most were detained and interrogated on Angel Island, America's west coast immigration center.

The experience of these immigrants is documented in hundreds of poems that have been carved into the walls of the Angel Island detention center.

Many of these have been translated, but little is known about the authors.

Kathleen Wong, a second-generation Chinese American, believes that her grandfather and great-grandfather spent time on the island and that her great-grandfather may have committed suicide there.

She knows little about her ancestors' experience on Angel Island and their possible connection with the poems.

The History Detectives investigate the story of her family's passage to the United States to find out if any of the poems were written by her ancestors.

Discuss this story

Season 1, Episode 6
Season 2, Episode 7

Wes Cowan Detective:
Gwen Wright Location:
Angel Island, San Francisco

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