Wong Hand’s residence and travel documents

Documents courtesy of the Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley

Certificate of residence, 1894

A federal law passed in 1892 required every Chinese resident to carry a certificate of residence. People without one could be deported or jailed, and travelers needed them to return to the country. This is Wong Hand’s certificate of residence, which identifies him as a Chinese laborer and a cook, as well as a resident of Redlands, California.

Health inspection card, 1914

Immigrants and steerage passengers on Pacific Mail steamships were subjected to a daily health inspection by the ship’s surgeon, who recorded each inspection by punching each passenger’s health card. Wong Hand’s card indicates 31 inspections on his 1914 voyage to San Francisco. To avoid detention at U.S. Quarantine stations or on railroads, Wong Hand would have been required to show this card. The rigorous inspection process, intended to prevent the spread of disease and to keep out illegal immigrants, also meant a frustrating, difficult time for legal Chinese residents reentering the country.

Alien tax receipt, 1914

Wong Hand traveled back to China at some point and returned to San Francisco aboard the Pacific Mail steamship Siberia in 1914. As an alien, he was required to pay a tax of $4, a sum that would have been returned to him if he had left the United States again within 30 days.