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Tag: NAtional Archives at San Francisco

Archives Spotlight: San Francisco

The National Archives is on the West Coast, too!

The National Archives at San Francisco (located in San Bruno, California) contains over 55,000 cubic feet of Federal records from the 1850s through the 1980s. The records come from northern and central California, Nevada (except Clark County), Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The Trust Territory was administered by the United States from 1947 to 1994 and comprised what are now the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Palau.

Those interested in the history of Alcatraz and its inmates should know that the National Archives at San Francisco holds case files, identification photographs, and warden’s notebook pages for most listed inmates from 1934 to 1963. Before 1934, Alcatraz housed a military, rather than a Federal, prison. The National Archives only holds the Federal prison records. The inmates are listed online both alphabetically and numerically.

Because most Asian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries came across the Pacific to the United States, the National Archives at San Francisco houses a very large collection of Federal documents and individual records relating to Asian-Pacific immigration and the Chinese exclusion laws. This collection is invaluable to Asian-Pacific historians and genealogists. Many of the items used in the recent exhibit “Attachments” at the National Archives … [ Read all ]

World War I food conservation: “Pan de la libertad”

“What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?,” our current special exhibition in Washington, DC, examines the Government’s effect on what Americans eat. Government influence was especially visible during wartime, when many food products were reserved for feeding the troops and our Allies.

During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration, headed by Herbert Hoover, urged the American people to voluntarily conserve food, especially wheat, meat, fats, and sugar. Recognizing that a successful program had to reach out to all Americans, the agency distributed printed materials in several languages, including Italian pamphlets in New York City, Chinese food conservation notices in Hawaii, and Spanish recipes in California.

The featured recipes for “pan de la libertad” (liberty bread), using corn, oat, and barley flour instead of wheat, were found in the files of the California State Food Administration, housed at the National Archives at San Francisco. According to a note at the bottom, recipes were translated into Spanish for counties with significant Spanish-speaking populations.

An all-out publicity campaign was waged to educate the citizenry about the need for food conservation and how to accomplish it in one’s own home. Posters and newspaper notices exhorted readers to combat waste. Homemakers and restaurant operators signed pledges to observe “meatless Mondays” and “wheatless Wednesdays.”

The American Protective League also received and passed on reports of citizens suspected of food hoarding.

In a … [ Read all ]

Ellis Island on the West Coast

For the thousands of immigrants from Europe, the entrance to America was through Ellis Island. As they sailed by New York City, they could see the Statue of Liberty standing in the harbor like a watchful guardian.

For immigrants from China and the Pacific Rim, another type of guardian awaited them in San Francisco Bay. They would need to pass through Angel Island.

From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was the main entry point for China and the Pacific Rim (and many non-Asians).  But the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, meant to severly restrict the immigrantion of Chinese nationals, meant that Asians entering through Angel Island had to pass difficult interogations. Quok Shee was detained for two years before being released to her husband, Chew Hoy Quong. Other families had to pass tests that proved they were in fact from the same village.

These interrogations were recently recreated from Federal immigration files held by the National Archives at San Francisco as dramatic perfomances for a special centennial commemorative ceremony at Angel Island Immigration Station.

The Archivist attended the ceremony—you can read more about his experience and Angel Island on his blog AOTUS.… [ Read all ]