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.