Operation: WWII Chinese American G.I. 8/29/2020

Webinar: August 29th (Saturday). 1:15PM Introduction briefing room video. 1:30 – 3:00 Webinar and Panel.

Registration: https://sjsu.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ZBntUfmaQTyGwxC9Jx0xpA  (seats limited so register now)

Registration Questions: Gail Chong, gailchong1970@gmail.com

Recommended Reading. It is impossible to answer every question submitted to our panel. But many can be answered with an article Major General William Chen has graciously allowed BACGG to post summarizing the involvement and contributions of Chinese American Veterans in WWII. https://tinyurl.com/ChiAmWWIIVets

Our August webinar will be, Operation … Chinese American G.I. This webinar is recognized by the Department of Defense, as a Commemorative Partner, as it celebrates the 75th Anniversary, of the end of WWII. The webinar precedes a September ceremony to honor, Chinese American WWII Vets. The keynote speaker is Montgomery Hom, the Executive Producer for the California Ceremony, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, author, and military historian. We will give you an update, on the September ceremony, which includes military honors, and USO entertainment.

We are taking a different approach, to explore Chinese American WWII history. Yes, you will get all the obligatory dates and places. But we will look at the war, through the lens of the world’s largest private collection, of Chinese American, military memorabilia. For example, we show a pair of boots, with a medal beside it, and then tell the rest of the story … about the hero who filled these shoes. We will roll a film clip from, We Served with Pride, featuring 15 Chinese American WWII Vets, who served, with uncommon valor, as a common virtue.

If you want to get a rare glimpse, of the contributions of Chinese American Veterans. Or hear about women at war, and on the home front. Or just have a good time, don’t miss this session.

About the Panelists

About the Keynote Speaker – Montgomery Hom

Monty is an independent producer and a long time production and historical military subject matter specialist. Monty consults on many Hollywood film and TV productions. His work can be seen in the Academy Award nominated film,“Ford V. Ferrari”. His Emmy nominated PBS film, “We Served with Pride, Chinese American Experience in WWII”will be relaunched as a new re-mastered version for its 20th anniversary in 2021. As a young boy, hearing stories of an uncle who was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne during the invasion of Normandy, kick-started his deep passion for researching and collecting artifacts, and data on Chinese Americans in WWII. Today, this collection is the largest, privately held grouping of its kind. His wife, is a long serving United States Naval officer presently deployed in Northern Afghanistan.

Major General William Chen, United States Army, (Ret)

William S. Chen (retired), better known as Bill Chen, is a third-generation Chinese-American.  Bill served as a career U.S. Army officer for over 32 years and retired as a Major General — the first Chinese-American to wear 2-star rank in the U.S. Army. As a Major General he commanded the U.S. Army Missile Command during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the Army’s largest deployment and subsequent combat use of Army missiles in history.  Later he served as the Army’s first Program Executive Officer for Missile Defense – directing all the Army’s theater and national missile defense programs.

Connie Young Yu

Connie Young Yu, a 4th generation California, is an author and historian. She was featured in the five-part PBS series Asian Americans that aired in May. She is a trustee of Hakone Foundation and board member emeritus of the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA). She was a founding member of the Angel Island Immigration Station Historical Advisory Committee that saved the detention barracks for preservation. She is the author of Chinatown San Jose, USA and co-editor of Voices from the Railroad: Stories by Descendants of Chinese Railroad Workers. She was co-producer of the exhibit “Called to Rise: Chinese Americans in CBI.” Her father, the late Col. John C. Young, served in China-Burma-India theatre of operations and was on the ordnance team at the battle of Songshan, detonating the TNT that freed the Burma Road. During the Korean War, as Commander of the Cathay Post American Legion, Lt. Col. Young spearheaded the project for the War Memorial at St. Mary’s Square in San Francisco honoring Chinese American servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice in WWI and WWII. Connie has given presentations on WWII for CHSA and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project with her father’s collection of U.S. Signal Corp photos, his WWII diaries and other memorabilia.

WWII Chinese American G.I. Project: For more information regarding the 75th Anniversary Commemoration of the ending of WWII ceremony, commemorative book, movie “We Served With Pride”, and virtual exhibit go to https://chsa.org/wwii-chinese-american-gi/

ww2 remembrance

Lets Start Writing Our Stories!

World War Two was a climatic period for our families, who are members of the ‘greatest generation’ link . Our Operation WWII Chinese American GI webinar on 8/29th link focuses on those who have served in our armed forces. But genealogy is about family history, and everyone in our family has an important contribution to our passion as BACGG members.

Because of the 75th Anniversary celebration of the end of World War 2 on 9/2/2020, I have set up a page click for BACGG members to write something about our relatives who lived during that period. Contrary to the 8/29th webinar, I have expanded the remembrances, including not only those who have served in the armed forces, but also on the home front, in the industrial war effort, and those interred by the tragic decisions of our leaders.

Your remembrances can be elaborate like Ron’s site click on a 3rd party website, or they can be a simple paragraph(s) like Doug’s site click . For Leona and Susan, they formatted their stories as a PDF, exported to an image, and we imported Leona’s page click and Susan’s page click.

Members of BACGG, lets return to our roots. This is an opportunity to practice writing our family history and share your family’s stories to publish on our site. These remembrances will be permanent pages on BACGG website. Members will be able to access their page at any time to change or update. Membership has it privileges. Contact Doug email me or email bacgg.doug@gmail.com

Resources to Learn about Angel Island Immigration and its Documents

Content courtesy of Grant Din, grant@tonaidin.net, www.tonaidin.net

Angel Island Immigration Station

Here’s a guide to resources for researching Angel Island immigrants and others from the early-mid 20th century, and many videos that tell stories about Angel Island immigrants. Feel free to contact me if you have any trouble getting these resources.

There are many resources available for Angel Island immigrant research. Here are a few:

Ship Manifests on Ancestry.com or familysearch.org provide information on arrivals to San Francisco and a potential case file number (Ship number which is usually on the upper right of second sheet of manifest, page number also in that location, row number). For example, 18045/3-5 refers to someone traveling on ship number 18045, page 3, row 5.

Records of the Board of Special Inquiry. Sometimes immigrants will have both a ship manifest record and a board of special inquiry record. The latter have information such as if people were initially scheduled to be deported, any appeals, hospitalization for treatment of diseases, etc. Most likely if any of these things happened for someone immigrating through San Francisco between 1910 and 1940, the immigrant was detained on Angel Island. These records show up in Ancestry searches.

These file numbers can lead to case files at the National Archives in San Bruno. Many case files are listed on Ancestry with links on where to get them and you can also download a 60,000+ record database compiled by volunteers here: https://www.chinesefamilyhistory.org/san-bruno.html. There are people from at least 80 countries listed on the database.

If a person is not listed there, there are often other locations for their files. To ask questions or to schedule an appointment at the Archives, email sanbruno.archives@nara.gov. They are open five days a week when there is no pandemic. Ancestry.com has uploaded these spreadsheets as part of their holdings, and links researchers to how to get the files.

If the person became a naturalized citizen or participated or was named in the “confession” program in the late 1950s or 1960s, it is likely that the file became an “A-file” (“A”=”Alien”) and could be in other physical locations. Many of these files are making their way to San Bruno and being released 100 years after people are born, but the process is lagging behind. If they are in San Bruno, you will be able to find them in the National Archives index at https://catalog.archives.gov/. A-file numbers are on naturalization petitions and certificates, among other places.

Other A-files are available from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the National Archives, depending on the A-file number. Marisa Louie Lee recommends making a Freedom of Information Act request first, which you can do at https://www.uscis.gov/records/request-records-through-the-freedom-of-information-act-or-privacy-act.

A-file numbers under 8 million can also be requested here: https://www.uscis.gov/history-and-genealogy/genealogy/files-numbered-below-8-million, but USCIS is greatly increasing the fees.

Erika Lee and Judy Yung’s Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America is the definitive book on Angel Island immigrant history. It has a general overview plus sections on Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Korean, Russians and Jews, Mexican, and Filipino immigrants. Available at local bookstores and online.

Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung’s Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island 1910-1940 has most of the Chinese poems on the island in Chinese and English, along with oral histories and other immigration sites where poems were found.

Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation’s website is at www.aiisf.org. Visit the Immigration Voices website at www.aiisf.org-immigrant-voices to browse through the over 220 stories, most of which are about Angel Island immigrants, and are searchable by country of origin, age at immigration, and many other factors. You can also visit AIISF’s Youtube page here: https://www.youtube.com/user/AIISFYT. Here are some of the stories and videos AIISF has made available.

A tour of the Angel Island Immigration Station https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnpgiUY5ip4&t=127s

Eliseo Felipe’s story and video about his immigration from the Philippines: https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/angel-island-profile-eliseo-felipe/

Nick Friesen’s story and video https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/364-remembering-nick-friesen-1913-2011-3/

Rosa Ginsberg’s story and a link to her YouTube trailer https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/830-looking-for-loveor-just-a-better-life/

http://www.heatherklein.net/shanghai-angel.html https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RfJvG1UQoE

Kou Kitano’s arrival as a picture bride https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/609-kitano-kou/

Jiro Dick Kobashigawa’s wait on the island as a U.S. citizen https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/614-kobashigawa-jiro-dick/

Mrs. Lee Yoke Suey’s 15 month detention on Angel Island. https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/967-mrs-lee-yoke-sueys-fifteen-month-detainment-on-angel-island/

The Nikonenkos, who got married on a ship on their way to Angel Island https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/1007-the-nikonenkos-married-at-sea-on-the-way-to-angel-island/

Rose Young Soon Park’s story https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/699-two-korean-woman-and-a-child-at-angel-island/

Dalip Singh Samra’s story and a video visit of his family to the National Archives https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/933-from-punjab-india-to-angel-island/

Kartar Singh’s story https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/875-student-and-revolutionist/

Kehar Singh’s story as told by granddaughter Valarie Kaur. https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/946-becoming-american-the-journey-of-early-sikh-pioneer-kehar-singh/

Li Keng Wong’s story and video https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/882-li-keng-wong/

Li Keng’s book: Good Fortune, published by Scholastic, is available in many bookstores and online.

Tyrus Wong’s story and video https://www.immigrant-voices.aiisf.org/stories-by-author/587-wong-tyrus-3/

Angel Island: The Story Behind the Poems (scenes from the restoration of the barracks) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_EQY-0ThOM&t=7s

PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students) – online classes about Angel Island http://www.ports.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27693

Links to all the Korean immigration case files at NARA San Bruno: https://catalog.archives.gov/search?q=*:*&f.parentNaId=296445&f.level=fileUnit&sort=naIdSo rt%20asc&tabType=image

You can also see my website (in great need of updating): www.tonaidin.net. I have several documents from my ancestors’ case files on it. Please feel free to email me at grant@tonaidin.net if you have any questions about how to find Angel Island immigration records or about Angel Island in general.

Grant Din, grant@tonaidin.net, www.tonaidin.net

Finding Genealogical Data in the Chinese Exclusion Act Case Files

Chinese genealogical research is challenging. Even the names are confusing—a person could have two or three distinctly different names during his lifetime, and possibly an Americanized version. This webinar will give a brief history of the act, tell where the files are located, and how to access them. Examples of the rich genealogical information found in the files will be given—interrogations, affidavits, photographs, vital records, and more. The Act was in effect for 61 years—1882 to 1943. There are over 5 million Chinese Americans in the U.S. Many with ancestors who arrived in the United States before 1943 may have someone with a Chinese Exclusion Act case file.

Presenter: Trish Hackett Nicola, CG

Trish Hackett Nicola, CG®, has been working with the Chinese Exclusion Act files at the National Archives at Seattle as a volunteer for over eighteen years. Although she didn’t intend to, she fell in love with the records almost immediately. Trish enjoys getting a window into the lives of the Chinese immigrants and their families, working with original documents, seeing the photos (especially the kids) and learning the ins and outs of the history of the Act. She has written several articles and given many lectures on the Act. She writes a blog that highlights compelling case files. Trish has been certified since 2000, served on the APG Board of Directors for six years, and as a trustee for the BCG Education Fund. One of her research articles was recently published in National Genealogical Society Quarterly. She is also a history nerd and concentrates on the Pacific Northwest and anything Irish.

Genealogical Resources for Angel Island

Register for this event link

Date And Time: Thu, August 13, 2020, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM PDT

Presented by Grant Din, and the California Genealogical Society & Library

Immigrants from Eighty Countries who passed through Angel Island and the Genealogical Resources They Left Behind

While people who have heard about Angel Island might know about the Chinese poetry carved on its walls, what is less known is that over half a million immigrants from eighty countries were processed by officials on the island, and genealogical resources are still available to researchers. Learn from examples of case studies of Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Russian, and South Asian immigrants, as well as the island’s use to house “enemy aliens” from Hawaii and the West Coast during World War II, and find out about the National Archives and other resources that might be available for your own research.

Topics that will be covered:

  • History of the immigration station and why it was built.
  • Examples of stories of Angel Island immigrants from several different countries.
  • Resources for Angel Island and West Coast immigrant research, including online and at the National Archives in San Bruno.

“Tastes of Home” online exhibit

Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation online exhibit: “Tastes of Home” click: Celebrating Immigrant Cultures Through Food — is now open! July 29 to September 30, 2020. Tastes of Home highlights the important role that food has played in the lives of immigrants across the US and around the world. You can even find recipes you can try at home! Please visit this free online exhibit at 

post to reference webinars

How to find the video of Calvin Fong’s Chinese Night Clubs webinar

An example of how our webinars segue into one another. Paul Wing Jew, the Chinese American ‘Fred Astaire’ and member of the Wing and Toy dancing duo, both whom are featured in the video of our Cocktail Lounge/Waiting Room click to play, fought in the critical World War 2 Battle of the Bulge wiki . Paul’s talent and athleticism is coupled with the fact that he is a local of the San Francisco Bay area.

Prior Meetings with Recordings

We have posted the answers to the many questions link asked during Chinese Night Club webinar

Thanks to the hard work of Ron, Gail, and Jeannie with 2 hours of interviewing Calvin, Cynthia, and Coby.


The Resources Page click can be found on the black menu bar above towards the middle-right. It will contain the permanent links to previous information archived from this site, as well as original content from contributors. Feel free to explore.

Vanishing Chinatown: The World of The May’s Photo Studio


For over 40 years, Isabella May and Leo Chan Lee’s photographs documented life for Chinese Americans in the racially isolated community of San Francisco’s Chinatown. Vanishing Chinatown explores the history of the May’s Photo Studio and how their photographs captured the community’s socio-political, economic, and cultural identity, as well as the changing environment.

Vanishing Chinatown: The World of The May’s Photo Studio brings families together: in the past by splicing together family portraits in spite of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and in the present by reconnecting May’s granddaughter with her family’s legacy. These stunning photographs show San Francisco Chinatown in the early to mid-20th century, a vanishing “old Chinatown” vibrant with culture; an immigrant community becoming Americanized.

The photographs were almost lost, but art student Wylie Wong rescued 700 photographs trashed in a dumpster. Corinne Chan Takayama, granddaughter of the photographers Leo and Isabella May Chan Lee didn’t know what had happened to the photographs, but forty years later found that Wylie had saved some of the photographs. We interweave Corinne and Wylie as Corinne tells personal stories sparked by the photographs and Wylie, along with other historians and Cantonese opera performers, explain the historical background and artistic value of the images.

The importance of family, preserving memories and dreams of earlier generations, identity, and a creative resistance to racist laws and societal constraints are the main themes in Vanishing Chinatown. During these Trumpian times of immigrant family separations, detention, and deportations, Vanishing Chinatown is an urgent reminder of hardships Chinese immigrants endured during the 60 years of the Chinese Exclusion Act, and resonates with other immigrants today.

The fusion of Eastern/Western, and traditional/modern are illustrated in the May’s Studio portraits with hand-painted backdrops, and in the photographs of Cantonese opera which were influenced by Western cinema.

Through Corinne’s memories and stories of her family we are able to visualize how her grandparents fulfilled the American Dream, particularly Leo, who arrived as a Paper Son and became a prosperous businessman, creative photographer, and civic activist.

The May’s Studio Chinatown photographs parallel James Van Der Zee’s Harlem photographs, and should be recognized for their artistry, and their historical and anthropological importance. We hope Vanishing Chinatown will spark more questions about other Chinese American photographers, the Cantonese opera, and the legacy of family histories.

27 minutes.

Writing Your Family History Series


The California Genealogical Society will present an encore of our popular series Writing Your Family History online via Zoom. By the end of the course, you will be ready to start writing, or will be already writing, a family history with confidence and style!

Eight Sessions on Tuesday Evenings (Fee)

August 4 & 11 (two parts), August 18, August 25, September 1, September 8, September 15, September 22

7 pm – 8:30 pm PDT (some sessions may end early depending on content)

Who Should Take This Course?

This course series is for genealogists and family historians who are ready to transform their research into a quality family history.

The course will be lead by a team of dedicated volunteers – Matthew B. Berry,CG, Jennifer Dix, Lois Elling, Lisa Gorrell,CG, and Stewart Traiman – who have different and complementary skills.

The sessions will take place via Zoom. If you join, please sign in early to make sure you are able to see the program. We will send you instructions the night before, and a reminder shortly before the event, which will give you access. All times are Pacific Daylight Time.


4 Aug & 11 Aug 2020

Writing Stories

presented by Lisa Gorrell, CG

This two-part online class will cover defining your writing project and how to create time to write and avoid distractions. Also discussed will be what makes a compelling story, and adding historical and social context to your story. This online course will include in-class discussions and writing prompts, as well as a between-class writing exercise. Enrollment includes both sessions of this class.


18 Aug 2020

Writing and Editing with Style

presented by Jennifer Dix

This class will discuss style: why writers need style sheets, and what style decisions need to be made. Also discussed will be how to edit your writing: who should do it, when to do it, and what to look for. ________________________________________________________________________________

25 Aug 2020

Genealogical Numbering Systems

presented by Matt Berry, CG

This class will address the preferred approaches for organizing genealogical information in written form. Topics will include Register and NGSQ formats, the Sosa-Stradonitz (or Ahnentafel) System, and Multi-Surname approaches. ________________________________________________________________________________

1 Sep 2020

Citation: Easier Than You Think

presented by Stewart Traiman

This class will be based on Tom Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Documentation. We’ll break down all 17 chapters to make them more easily understandable, and provide exercises for each. Attendees will leave with much more confidence in how to craft their own citations for any source.


8 Sep 2020

Making Your Book Look Good I: Type & Graphics

presented by Lois Elling

This class will cover how to add visual interest to your narratives and present a professional-looking book. Topics will include: typefaces, graphic elements, and photographs. Parts I and II of this course are designed to be taken together, but may be taken separately if desired. ________________________________________________________________________________

15 Sep 2020

Making Your Book Look Good II: Page Layout and Software

presented by Lois Elling

This class will continue to cover how to add visual interest to your narratives and present a professional-looking book. Topics will include: design basics, construction considerations, software, and going to print.


22 Sep 2020

Creating an Effective Index to your Family History Book

presented by Matt Berry, CG

This class will teach how to create an effective index for your family history book. Most people don’t read genealogies from cover to cover, the first thing a potential reader wants to know is whether their family is covered in the book, so they turn to the index first. Help your readers out by creating a useful index to your book.



 Pre-registration is required. Class size is limited so register early to confirm your spot.

 CGS members enjoy reduced admission, $10.00* per session.

 Non-member admission fee is $30.00* per session

You can purchase a $45 one-year CGS Basic membership when you check out. To sign up for other membership options go to our web page: CGS Membership application


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