As the historic immigration station at Angel Island marks its 100th anniversary, much of its past has come to light. Here’s how to find your family’s hidden part of that story.
Almost every family history has some painful truth: an untimely death, a child out of wedlock, a fortune lost. Attempts to cover up these events can leave gaping holes in family history research. For people with relatives who immigrated via the West Coast in the early 20th century, that secret might hide detention at the Angel Island immigrant processing center in San Francisco Bay.
Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty welcomed the majority of the largely European tired, poor and huddled masses entering on the East Coast during the era of immigration. But most of America’s West Coast arrivals—Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, Mexicans, Central and South Americans, Russians and especially Asians—were met with the harsh wooden buildings and fierce interrogations of Angel Island.