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Colorful History #84 — Immigration at Angel Island

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Angel Island Immigration Station in California holds a meaningful place in U.S. History. Built to enforce the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which all but eliminated Chinese immigration to the United States, the immigration center in the San Francisco Bay processed immigrants, mainly from China and other parts of East Asia, from 1910 to 1940.

Immigration at Angel Island, a free comic and teaching guide, encourages students to learn about Angel Island and explore the complex and sometimes discriminatory history of immigration policy in the United States.

Estimated Lexile Levels:

  • Comic: 610 – 800
  • Endnotes: 1010 – 1200

Projects and discussion questions are aligned to Common Core standards for grades 4-6. 

In this comic, a young girl and her grandfather uncover their family’s history in an old storage facility. When they discover a photo of the girl’s Tai-Pau (maternal great-grandmother) at Angel Island, she learns all about the immigration facility and some of the experiences that her Tai-Pau and others had there—as well as some of the ways that people avoided the restrictions of the Chinese Exclusion Act. The comic ends with the girl asking some “big and important” questions about immigration and discrimination today.

Immigration at Angel Island prompts students to critically engage with immigration stories and grasp a deeper understanding of this important piece of immigration history in the United States. By examining the history of Angel Island, students can critically engage with immigration narratives, deepen their historical understanding of the United States, and cultivate empathy and awareness of the complex social issues that continue to shape our world today.

Using the project ideas featured in this guide, students can:

  • Research the real stories of immigrants at Angel Island
  • Construct a timeline of events at Angel Island and the surrounding global context
  • Consider the meaning of poetry written by the immigrants of Angel Island
  • Explore contemporary stories of immigrants and refugees in the U.S.

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