Paper Son-Coaching Book

12 April 2019
“Paper Son” Coaching Book, 1935
Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) Collection

The 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed public birth records, creating an opportunity for thousands of Chinese men living in the States to claim they were born on U.S. soil. These “citizens” could then claim citizenship and documentation for any children – real or fabricated – born in China. Such documents were used to bring over children, extended family, or sold to others in the community. The people that entered the US under these circumstances were known as “paper sons.” The practice of “paper sons” became more prevalent as Chinese in America claimed multiple “sons” in order to bring over as many people as possible. While “paper daughters” did exist, cultural and practical considerations meant more men were sent to America as wage earners.

In an attempt to enforce Chinese Exclusion in the absence of any records, the Angel Island Immigration Center opened in 1910 to interrogate mostly Chinese immigrants. Coaching books such as this one were created to help paper sons memorize details relevant to their “family” that could be asked during the intense interrogations. The above coaching book dating to 1935 answers questions such as “Do you still keep your great-grand parents’ tombs? How many of them in total?” “Have any of your brothers been to the Gold Mountain [USA]? When? And where are they now?”

1906年的旧金山大地震摧毁了公众的出生记录,这就给居住在美国的数以千计的中国男子创造了一个机会,声称他们自己是在美国出生的。然后,这些“公民”就可以为他们在中国出生的孩子-不管是真实的还是捏造的-申请公民身份和文件。这些文件被用来把他们的孩子、远亲、或者出售给社区中的其他人带进美国。在这种情况下进入美国的人被称为“纸儿子”。由于在美国的中国人声称有多个“儿子”以便把尽可能多的人带进美国,“纸儿子”的做法变得更加普遍了。虽然 “纸女儿” 也确实存在,但出于文化和实践上的考虑,“纸儿子”的普遍也意味着更多的男性被送到美国去挣钱。


Countdown to the TCS NYC Marathon on November 3, 2019: 216 Days.

2019年是美国第一条横贯大陆铁路建成150周年,为了纪念第一批华人来美建设这条铁路所做出的巨大贡献, MOCA将其2019 TCS NYC Marathon的活动命名为 MOCA Spike 150 – Running Forward With Our Stories! 鼓励大家通过马拉松公益跑,全国线上接力,以及一天一个故事的方式讲述150个华人的历史故事,敬请大家持续关注, 讲出华人自己的故事,回顾过去,立足现在,展望未来,共同书写美国历史,使之更加充实完整。

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