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Chinese Immigrants Write Poems in the "Wooden Barracks"

At Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay, Chinese immigrants were detained for weeks or even months in the so-called "Wooden Barracks" as they awaited processing. Faced with poor conditions, humiliating treatment, and homesickness, detainees wrote poems to express their longing for home as well as their indignation at their ill treatment, often scrawling them on the wooden walls where they slept. The poems, many of which were salvaged when the Wooden Barracks were scheduled for demolition, reveal the immigrants' awareness that their treatment at Angel Island stood in harsh contrast to the ideals of opportunity and justice represented by their adopted homeland.

Source | Marlon K. Hom, ed., Songs of Gold Mountain: Cantonese Rhymes From San Francisco Chinatown (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987); Him Mark Lai et al, Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991).
Creator | Various
Item Type | Fiction/Poetry
Cite This document | Various, “Chinese Immigrants Write Poems in the "Wooden Barracks",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed December 8, 2023,

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