The online tool for teaching with documents, from the National Archives

Immigration to America: Stories and Travels

Seeing the Big Picture

All documents and text associated with this activity are printed below, followed by a worksheet for student responses.

Introduction

Millions of men, women, and children immigrated to the United States from the 1880s through World War II. Entering, leaving, or staying in America—their stories were captured in documents and photographs attached to government forms in immigration case files, now held in National Archives buildings around the country.

Match each document in the grid to a person based on the reason they were in the United States. You can click on the orange "Details" icon to learn more about that person's story. After you've finished matching, click "When You're Done" to follow each person on their journey around the world.


Name:
Class:

Worksheet

Immigration to America: Stories and Travels

Seeing the Big Picture

Examine the documents and text included in this activity. Consider how each document or piece of text relates to each other and create matched pairs. Write the text or document number next to its match below. Write your conclusion response in the space provided.

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Political persecution in Russia


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Religious persecution and genocide during the Holocaust


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Native-born citizen, married to a Chinese merchant


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Work as a farmer and a fisherman


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First, marriage to a U.S. serviceman, then to escape following war.


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Accompanied her husband, a government official of a foreign country.


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Culminating Document

Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing the Immigration Act

10/3/1965

In this photograph, President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 at the Statue of Liberty. Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Lady Bird Johnson, Muriel Humphrey, Senator Edward (Ted) Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and others look on.

This law ended the "national origins formula" that had been in place since the 1920s.

The original caption reads: Outdoor photograph, sunny day. Wide view of large group of people. Hubert Humphrey and Mrs. Johnson are looking down at President Johnson picking up pen. Ted Kennedy is looking to right of frame, and Robert Kennedy has hand up to chin, smiling. New York City skyline is in background.
This primary source comes from the Collection LBJ-WHPO: White House Photo Office Collection.
National Archives Identifier: 2803428
Full Citation: Photograph A1421-33A; Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing the Immigration Act; 10/3/1965; Johnson White House Photographs, 11/22/1963 - 1/20/1969; Collection LBJ-WHPO: White House Photo Office Collection, ; Lyndon Baines Johnson Library, Austin, TX. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/lbj-immigration-act, September 17, 2019]


Photograph of President Lyndon B. Johnson Signing the Immigration Act

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Conclusion

Immigration to America: Stories and Travels

Seeing the Big Picture

Now follow each person on their journey around the world using Google Earth (If you are using a laptop or Android device, download and open the file with Google Earth. If you are on an iPad, click to open with the Google Earth App.), or follow the link to Google Maps. What countries did these people come from and when?

Your Response




Document

Identification form with photograph of Richard Arvay from the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter

7/1944

After the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, German and Austrian Jews tried in growing numbers to flee persecution. While about 250,000 would eventually come to the U.S. between 1933 and 1945, immigration officials applied regulations so rigidly, especially after the outbreak of World War II in 1939, that quotas for Germany and Austria were rarely filled.

Richard Arvay was one of the few European Jews who escaped the Holocaust and came to the United States during the war. An Austrian writer and filmmaker in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Arvay suffered persecution by the Nazis. He fled to Paris when Germany annexed Austria in 1938. After Germany occupied France in 1940, Arvay was sent to a concentration camp for a year. He escaped to Italy in 1943, when he was threatened with deportation to Poland.

In 1944, he was one of about 1,000 refugees picked to come to America to live in the newly established Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter in Oswego, New York. President Roosevelt had established the camp to respond to political pressures to do more to help Jews in Europe and to sidestep immigration regulations. Initially, refugees had to promise to return to Europe when the war was over, but President Truman permitted them to stay.

Richard Arvay lived at Fort Ontario for about 18 months. On a form stating that he did not want to return to Europe, he added a handwritten explanation: “I would also find it impossible to live in a country where all my family have been killed.” He brought his wife to America, settled in New York City, and worked as a writer. In 1951 he became a U.S. citizen. He died in 1970.
This primary source comes from the Records of the War Relocation Authority.
National Archives Identifier: 1548872
Full Citation: Identification form with photograph of Richard Arvay from the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter; 7/1944; Refugee Case Files, 1944 - 1946; Records of the War Relocation Authority, ; National Archives Building, Washington, DC. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/arvay-id-form, September 17, 2019]


Identification form with photograph of Richard Arvay from the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter

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Identification form with photograph of Richard Arvay from the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter

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Document

Application of Lawfully Domiciled Chinese Laborer for Return Certificate for Mrs. Yee Shing aka Mary Yee

9/8/1922

In 1922, Yee Shing, a Chinese merchant living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and his wife, Mary, wanted to take their family to China to educate their American-born children. Several months before their departure, Yee filed the paperwork for a “return certificate,” establishing his right to come back to America, and ensuring that his children could also return.

Mary, Yee’s American-born wife, was no longer a U.S. citizen because of their marriage. Under the Expatriation Act of 1907, a female U.S. citizen who married a citizen of another nation automatically lost her U.S. citizenship and took on the nationality of her husband. In other words, when Mary married Yee Shing, she became Chinese. 

As “a lawfully domiciled Chinese Laborer,” Mary also had to file this paperwork before leaving the country to ensure that she would be allowed to return. She attached her photograph and submitted to an interview. Her return certificate was approved, and the family left Seattle for China on September 16, 1922.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
National Archives Identifier: 6341134
Full Citation: Application of Lawfully Domiciled Chinese Laborer for Return Certificate for Mrs. Yee Shing aka Mary Yee; 9/8/1922; Case File of Yee Shee (re: Mary Yee); Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files, ca. 1895 - ca. 1943; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, ; National Archives at Seattle, Seattle, WA. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/application-return-mary-yee, September 17, 2019]


Application of Lawfully Domiciled Chinese Laborer for Return Certificate for Mrs. Yee Shing aka Mary Yee

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Application of Lawfully Domiciled Chinese Laborer for Return Certificate for Mrs. Yee Shing aka Mary Yee

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Document

Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

11/27/1941

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941, Minezo Araki, a Japanese fisherman who had been living in the United States for more than 30 years, went from being an alien to being an enemy alien.

Minezo had come to the United States in 1908, landing in Seattle and working as a farmer and a fisherman off the coast of Southern California. He married Wai Araki and together they raised her two children from a previous marriage and a daughter from his former marriage.

Even before December 7, as relations between the United States and Japan deteriorated, Japanese aliens were subject to increasing scrutiny by law enforcement and military officials. With such suspicions, the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard boarded Araki’s fishing boat, America, on November 27, 1941, and searched it for hidden radios and charts.

After war broke out, he was evacuated under the Enemy Alien Act to the San Pedro, California, assembly center. On February 4, 1942, he was sent to a camp for Japanese enemy aliens and German prisoners of war, near Bismarck, North Dakota. In July 1942, he joined the rest of his family in the Poston, Arizona, internment camp.

When the war turned in favor of the United States, Minezo and his family were allowed to leave Poston in the spring of 1943. They returned to California. Araki remained in the United States until his death in 1965.
This primary source comes from the Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments.
National Archives Identifier: 41050002
Full Citation: Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America; 11/27/1941; A8-5 Espionage; Central Subject Files, 1940 - 1971; Records of Naval Districts and Shore Establishments, ; National Archives at Riverside, Perris, CA. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/boat-america, September 17, 2019]


Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

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Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

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Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

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Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

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Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

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Intelligence Report on Vessel 27-A-726, America

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Document

Certificate of Arrival for Stephan Sevestian Bondareff

1/26/1935

A refugee from the 1917–21 Russian Civil War, Stephan Bondareff served in the White Russian Army that was defeated by the Red Army (Bolsheviks), who created the Soviet Union. After fleeing Russia in 1920, he traveled to Turkey, Bulgaria, and finally to Paris, France, where he was hired by the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show as a “cossack horse trick rider.” After briefly working in the United States, he traveled with the show to Laredo, Mexico, in December 1926. On September 12, 1927, fearing he would not be allowed to enter the United States since he had no visa, Stephan “Waded [the] Rio Grande River” at Eagle Pass, Texas. He later settled in Dearborn, Michigan, and worked for the Ford Motor Company. Seven years later, Bondareff took advantage of a law designed to allow Russians who had fled the Soviet Union without proper documentation to create a record of their arrival and apply for permanent residence. He filed to legalize his status in August 1934, writing that he was without a passport, and that if he returned to the Soviet Union “they would put me in the jail first and then kill me.” Immigration officials created a record describing Bondareff’s river crossing, and he was granted permanent resident status. He became a U.S. citizen in 1937, and died in 1978.
This primary source comes from the Records of District Courts of the United States.
National Archives Identifier: 6341140
Full Citation: Certificate of Arrival for Stephan Sevestian Bondareff; 1/26/1935; Records of District Courts of the United States, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/certificate-of-arrival-for-stephan-sevestian-bondareff, September 17, 2019]


Certificate of Arrival for Stephan Sevestian Bondareff

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Document

Authorization for Return of Filipino to Manila, Philippine Islands

6/12/1936

Philippine-born Carmen Wienke married a former U.S. serviceman in 1919. By the early years of the Great Depression, she and her family of six children were living in San Francisco, California, where they, like so many others, were facing tough economic times. After 1934, Carmen also faced changes to her immigration status. The Tydings-McDuffie Act granted Philippine independence, but changed her status from “U.S. national” to “alien.” Congress had created a repatriation program under which Filipinos living in northern California were given a one-way ticket should they voluntarily return to the Philippines. According to Wienke, a social worker came to her home and threatened to cut off her family from unemployment relief unless she returned to the Philippines. She and her family sailed for Manila in 1936. By 1939, Wienke had second thoughts. She was convinced that her marriage gave her and her children U.S. citizenship, but when she attempted to reenter the United States and rejoin her husband, she and her children were detained on Angel Island. Officials ruled against her on two legal technicalities, and after a number of appeals, she and her children were deported back to Manila in March 1940. They had been detained on Angel Island for eight months. In December 1941, the Japanese invaded and eventually occupied the Philippine Islands. Carmen and her family spent the war years held by the Japanese in an internment camp. When they were released in 1945, Carmen and her family sailed to the United States, described as a citizen who had been born in San Francisco. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1960.
This primary source comes from the Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
National Archives Identifier: 6587583
Full Citation: Authorization for Return of Filipino to Manila, Philippine Islands; 6/12/1936 ; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/authorization-for-return-of-filipino-to-manila-philippine-islands, September 17, 2019]


Authorization for Return of Filipino to Manila, Philippine Islands

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Authorization for Return of Filipino to Manila, Philippine Islands

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Document

Petition for Naturalization for Maria Garcia

6/10/1940

Immigrants from Mexico, and the rest of the Western Hemisphere, were not subject to the annual numerical quotas imposed by the National Origins Act of 1924. But the act also made visas—a package of documentation including a photograph—required of all travelers. The result was that crossing the Mexico–U.S. border became more difficult and expensive. Maria Zamora de Garcia was born in La Colorada, Mexico, in 1900. She first entered the United States in 1918 without registering and without paying the required $8 head tax, presumably because she came with her husband who was a Mexican government official and she and her family would have been classified as non-immigrants. After the 1924 law made crossing the border more complicated, she wanted to document her status and that of her Mexican-born child. So on July 22, 1924, she went to Nogales, Arizona, crossed into Mexico, and visited the U.S. Consulate there to obtain a visa and pay the head tax. Maria walked back through the gate into the United States (arriving “On Foot”) and was admitted as a lawful, permanent resident alien. In 1940, Maria Garcia became a U.S. citizen. She did not have to file a declaration of intention or wait the usual five years as her second husband, Nicolas Blas Garcia, was a United States citizen who was born in Texas.
This primary source comes from the Records of the District Courts of the United States.
National Archives Identifier: 6341120
Full Citation: Petition for Naturalization for Maria Garcia; 6/10/1940; Records of the District Courts of the United States, . [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/petition-for-naturalization-for-maria-garcia, September 17, 2019]


Petition for Naturalization for Maria Garcia

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Petition for Naturalization for Maria Garcia

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