Remember: to see the actual case file, you will need to come to the National Archives and Records Administration, Pacific Region, in San Bruno, California (http://www.archives.gov/san-francisco). This website can help you start your search by getting the case file number.
To find the case file number, you must know the name that the immigrant or traveler used on the papers. For a number of reasons, this may differ from the actual or commonly used name:
~ INS officials often did not understand the arrangement of Chinese names and sometimes reversed family and personal names.
~ Forms of address, marital status, or respect such as Ah or Shee were at times taken to be actual names and listed on the index as such.
~ Officials sometimes misheard, misunderstood, or misspelled the actual name.
~ Chinese names may have been converted to Hawaiian names for phonetic reasons, such as Chung to Akuna.
Having the name in Chinese helps to verify the name on the file.
Case files are unlikely to exist for Chinese who arrived in the United States before 1882 and never left and for Chinese Americans born in the United States who never left.
The Bancroft Library acquired this dataset as a donation and makes it available for use with the understanding that 1) it is not comprehensive, and 2) we make no claim as to the accuracy of the data.