Historical Documents

These are the texts of some of the primary documents which have shaped or described early Asian American history, including key legal cases, government acts, reports and more. Most of these are linked from within the ANCESTORS IN THE AMERICAS program descriptions for context. We plan to expand this collection over time.



A detailed timeline by author and scholar Sucheng Chan






1854 - People V. Hall
California Supreme Court ruling that a Chinese man was "inferior" to Whites and therefore could not testify in court against a White man charged with murder.

1862 - Chinese Police Tax Law
A California law taxing businesses that hired Chinese labor

1875 - Page Act
Congressional law against the importation of Asian women, ostensibly to discourage prostitution.

1882 - Chinese Exclusion Act
The Congressional Act which prohibited virtually all Chinese immigration for over 60 years.

1886 - Yick Wo vs. Hopkins
U.S. Supreme Court decision that declares a law with unequal impact on different groups is discriminatory.

1898 - U.S. vs. Wong Kim Ark
Landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming Chinese born in this country were U.S. citizens, per the14th Amendment.

1904 - Extension of the Chinese Exclusion Act
Extended Chinese Exclusion Act indefinitely.

1910 - 1940 - Angel Island Poetry
Poetry written by Chinese on the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station.

1942 - Executive Order 9066: Japanese Internment Act
The Presidential order that established WWII internment camps for Japanese Americans and others.

1943 - Chinese Exclusion Repeal Act
Repealed the 1882 Exclusion Act, but still severely limited Asian immigration.


Special thanks to Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley.


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