Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Case Files of Chinese Immigrants (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1900-1923
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States
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Record Description
Record Group RG 85: Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service
Collection years 1900-1923
Microfilm Publication M1144. Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1895-1920, from District No. 4 (Philadelphia) of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
National Archives Identifier 4497864
FamilySearch Resources
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National Archives and Records Administration


What is in This Collection?

This collection includes case files for Chinese immigrants arriving through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the years 1900 to 1923. This collection corresponds to NARA publication M1144: Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1895-1920, from District No. 4 (Philadelphia) of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

A detailed Romanized surname index is provided in alphabetical order on pages 8-96 (image #13-101) with corresponding case numbers listed. A separate index of ship names is on pages 97-117 (image #102-122). A table of the 51 rolls of microfilm included in this collection is also given with corresponding case numbers contained in each roll listed on pages 118-119 (image #123-124).

The files are part of the records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Record Group (RG) 85, and are housed in the Federal Archives and Records Center, Philadelphia, Pa.  These case files were prepared by the staff of the regional office to enforce the various Chinese exclusion acts passed by Congress during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The information was supplied by the immigrant or a traveling companion (usually a family member). Incorrect information was occasionally given, or mistakes may have been made when the clerk guessed at the spelling of foreign names.

To Browse This Collection

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Pennsylvania, Philadelphia - Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1900-1923.

What Can These Records Tell Me?

The following information may be found in these records:

Case files

  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Birthplace
  • Name of ship
  • Date of arrival

Collection Content

Sample Images

How Do I Search This Collection?

Before searching this collection, it is helpful to know:

  • The name of your ancestor
  • The approximate date of arrival

Search the Index

Search by name by visiting the Collection Page.
  1. Fill in the search boxes on the Collection Page with the information you have
  2. Click Search to show possible matches

View the Images

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:

  1. Select the Index Type to view the images.


How Do I Analyze the Results?

Compare each result from your search with what you know to determine if there is a match. This may require viewing multiple records or images. Keep track of your research in a research log.

What Do I Do Next?

Whenever possible, view the original records to verify the information and to find additional information that might not be reported. These pieces of information can lead you to additional records and family members.

I Found the Person I Was Looking For, What Now?

  • Use the information to find other records such as emigrations, port records, ship’s manifests, birth, christening, census, and land records
  • Learn foreign and “Americanized” names
  • Use the information to find additional family members in census records
  • Search for vital records, such as birth, marriage, and death
  • Search for land and probate files
  • Search for military records

I Can’t Find the Person I’m Looking For, What Now?

  • Collect entries for every person who has the same surname. This list can help you identify possible relatives
  • If you cannot locate your ancestor in the locality in which you believe they lived, then try searching records of a nearby locality
  • Standard spelling of names typically did not exist. Try variations of your ancestor’s name while searching the index or browsing through images.
  • Remember that sometimes individuals went by nicknames or alternated between using first and middle names, or even initials

Record Finder

Consult the Pennsylvania Research Tips and Strategies to find other records.

Citing This Collection

Citations help you keep track of places you have searched and sources you have found. Identifying your sources helps others find the records you used.

Collection Citation
"Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Case Files of Chinese Immigrants, 1900-1923." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2016. Citing NARA microfilm publication M1144. Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.
Image Citation:
When looking at an image, the citation is found on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen.

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How Can I Contribute to the FamilySearch Wiki?

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