According to the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation:
From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was the site of an Immigration Station that functioned as the West Coast equivalent of Ellis Island, although the Angel Island facility also enforced policies designed to exclude, rather than welcome, many Pacific Coast immigrants coming from eighty-two countries.
The station was built in the aftermath of the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. After the immigration station was closed, and the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed, Angel Island was turned into a California State Park. Remaining on the walls of the abandoned buildings were hundreds of poems, telling the stories of the immigrants, most of them Chinese, who were detained on the Island.
This 12-minute film explores that history and provides context for understanding the poems that line the walls.
This audio story from NPR provides additional context. It was provided to us from our colleagues at Listenwise. You can listen to it here.
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Below are photographs of the Angel Island Immigration Station, including pictures of the over 100 poems inscribed on the walls. Click on the image to scroll through the collection.
- Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation
- Echoes of History: Chinese Poetry at the Angel Island Immigration Station – Smithsonian
- The Poetry of Angel Island – KQED Asian Education Initiative
- The Chinese Exclusion Act: Resources – Re-imagining Migration
- The Lost Poetry of the Angel Island Detention Center – The New Yorker