My Father's Coaching Book

Relationship: Child of im/migrant

As I was going through my Father’s files after his death, it stuck out like a sore thumb.  A large envelope,  tattered and brown with age.  Inside was a very long scroll, surprisingly intact, with pages of impeccably written Chinese characters in classical style.  I later discovered that this was my father’s ticket to America.  Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, all Chinese were barred from immigrating to the United States.  In order to enter the U. S., my father became a “paper son,” and assumed a relationship with a “paper father” (a citizen already living in the U.S) that existed on paper only. The scroll, also known as deposition notes or “coaching book,” contained information my father needed to credibly convince U.S. immigration authorities that he was the real son and gain entry to the U.S.  U.S. immigration inspectors conducted very detailed interrogations of my father about his purported relatives and the home village. Questions focused on daily life, village and home locations and even home interior arrangements.  At the age of 17, my father studied and memorized the scroll before traveling on the ship SS President McKinley to Seattle in 1937 where he was admitted to America. 

Place(s): Seattle, WA
Year: 1937

– Jason Fong

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant