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Immigrant

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Brooch containing figures on and within a chariot-like structure.

The Immigrant

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
A half-length portrait of an elderly bearded man, facing half-right. He wears a cap and carries a large sack over his shoulder.

Immigrant's Kraut Board

National Museum of American History

Immigrant's Piecrust Cutter

National Museum of American History

Italian Immigrant's Sweater

National Museum of American History

Immigrant's Piecrust Cutter

National Museum of American History

Immigrant's Document Wallet

National Museum of American History

Ukrainian Immigrant's Songbook

National Museum of American History

Finnish Immigrant's Sleigh Bell

National Museum of American History

Finnish Immigrant's Sleigh Bell

National Museum of American History

Japanese Immigrant’s Trunk

National Museum of American History
For decades, Hawai`i was a primary destination for Japanese immigrants. The cane sugar industry, which dominated Hawaiian life from the 1850s to the 1950s, recruited tens of thousands of laborers from Japan. Immigration increased after the United States annexed Hawai`i in 1898, and continued despite restrictions on Japanese immigration to the U.S. mainland. Japanese workers endured severe and unequal conditions in Hawai`i, which was controlled by white American business interests. Still, Japanese immigrants established a strong and lasting community that supported their families and maintained their cultural traditions. The need for cheap labor forced plantations to recruit contract workers from China, Japan, Korea, the Pacific Islands, and the Philippines, as well as Puerto Rico, Europe, and California. The unique racial and ethnic mix in contemporary Hawai`i is due to this history. The largest group of workers came from Japan. Unlike other Asian groups, the Japanese included significant numbers and percentages of women workers. This trunk belonged to Kumataro Sugimoto, who immigrated to Hawai`i from Kumamoto, Japan, about 1902. After hearing stories of quick wealth, Kumataro left for Hawai`i to seek his fortune. Later, he brought his sons to help him on the plantation. One of his sons, Kichizo, married an American-born Japanese woman and started a family in Hawai`i. Inscriptions on the trunk include Sugimoto, the family name, and Hawai`i, the destination. This was a common practice for identification on any long voyage. This trunk or toronko, made of leather and paper, carried kimono and other personal belongings. Immigrants also carried Yanagi-gori, suitcases made of willow branches, and others made of bamboo and rattan, as well as cloth bags.

Chinese Immigrant Study Guide

National Museum of American History
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prevented all but a few Chinese to enter the United States legally. In 1906, a major earthquake and resulting fire in San Francisco destroyed public records, allowing many Chinese to claim that they had been born in San Francisco. These men, with newly established citizenship status, periodically returned to China and claimed citizenship for their children (overwhelmingly boys) who could then immigrate into the United States as citizens. As U.S. officials became aware of this practice, they created extensive “traps” to uncover these “paper sons.” At the Angel Island immigration station (1910-1940) located off the coast of San Francisco, officials detained immigrants for weeks, months, and sometimes years, before admitting or rejecting them.

Elaborate “coaching books” were studied by would-be immigrants in order to tell the same stories put forth by the alleged U.S. citizen who was waiting for his “paper son” on the American shores of Gold Mountain. Questions included minute details of the immigrant’s home and village as well as specific knowledge of their ancestors.

This coaching book was studied by Choi Tsia who arrived on Angel Island in 1938. Approximately 175,000 Chinese immigrants came through Angel Island.

Don't Deport Immigrant Youth

National Museum of American History

Stand With Immigrant Workers

National Museum of American History

Slavic Immigrant, Ellis Island

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 15 x 11 cm.

"Slavic immigrant Ellis Is - 1905" Image same as Items 6706 and 6709, but cropped differently, and of different size.

Slavic Immigrant, Ellis Island

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 18 x 13 cm.

"Slavic immigrant Ellis Is - 1905" Image same as Items 6708, 6706, but cropped differently and of a different size.

Slavic Immigrant, Ellis Island

Archives of American Art
1 photographic print : b&w ; 18 x 13 cm.

"Slovak - Ellis Is - 1905" Image same as 6708, 6709, but cropped differently and of different size.

Sunny Jain - "Immigrant Warrior"

Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage
Stream/download/purchase 'Wild Wild East': https://orcd.co/wildwildeast 'Wild Wild East' on CD/LP/DIG on 2/21/2020 Sunny Jain’s Wild Wild East encompasses myriad facets of Jain’s identity both as a first-generation South Asian–American and as a global musician, from his own family’s immigration story to his eclectic musical upbringing. In recasting the immigrant—steeped in the courage to leave a familiar homeland for a new beginning—as the modern-day cowboy and cowgirl, Jain sources musical inspiration from the scores of Bollywood classics and Spaghetti Westerns, Indian folk traditions, jazz improvisation, and rollicking psychedelic and surf guitar styles. Wild Wild East is an album rooted in the contemporary American soundscape, singing in a new voice, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Sunny Jain: https://www.sunnyjain.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunnyjainfans/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/sunnydrums/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sunnydrums/ Smithsonian Folkways: http://www.folkways.si.edu Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smithsonianfolkwaysrecordings Twitter: https://twitter.com/folkways Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smithsonianfolkways/ The content and comments posted here are subject to the Smithsonian Institution copyright and privacy policy (/www.si.edu/copyright/). Smithsonian reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove any content at any time.

Irish Immigrant's Flax-Wheel

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Illustration of a wooden flax-wheel.

Immigrant Girl, Ellis Island

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

1906 Chinese Immigrant’s Lacquer Trunk

National Museum of American History
In 1906 Ng Shee Lee packed her clothes and belongings in this trunk and left China for America. It was a difficult trip. She slept next to the noisy engine room; arriving tired and sick in San Francisco she was met by the devastating 1906 earthquake. Ng Shee then made her way alone by train across Canada to New York where she rejoined her husband, Lee B. Lok.

Photo: View of an Immigrant

Smithsonian Magazine

Button, "Who you callin' immigrant, pilgrim?", 1996

National Museum of American History
The most basic right of citizenship has been equal access and protection under the law. The fight to extend this right to all began before the Declaration of Independence proclaimed “all men are created equal,” and continues today.
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