Ink-Slinger Profiles: Chris Ishii

Kishio Christopher Ishii was born in Caruthers, Fresno County, California on August 11, 1919, according to the Archives of American Art (birthplace) and the California Birth Index, 1905-1995 at Ancestry.com. He was in Japan when the 1920 U.S. Federal Census was enumerated. On June 12, 1920, his family sailed from Kobe, Japan and arrived in Seattle, Washington on July 1. He was the youngest of four children born to Koshiro and Naka. His father was a farmer. They had visited his father’s mother in Toyotamura Kagawa-ken.


The 1930 census recorded him in the 17th Judicial Township, Fresno County on Fig Avenue. He was the fourth of six children, and his father continued as a farmer. Ishii graduated from Caruthers Union High School. Archives of American Art said he attended “Chouinard School of Art…in Los Angeles and upon graduation worked for Walt Disney Studios until World War II.” In late May 1941, a strike was called against Disney. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson (2006), said, “A local newspaper article of the time noted that all four of the Nisei artists went out on strike: Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Masao Kawaguchi, and James Tanaka.” They found work elsewhere when the strike ended.



On December 7, 1941, Japan declared war on the United States by bombing Pearl Harbor. Life soon changed for thousands of Japanese Americans on the West Coast. In April 1942, Ishii was relocated to an assembly center, a racetrack in Santa Anita, California. A newsletter, Santa Anita Pacemaker, was produced and soon featured his cartoon character, Li’l Neebo. First, there was a contest to name the character.


Pacemaker 5/15/1942

Pacemaker 5/19/1942


Pacemaker 5/22/1942


Pacemaker 6/3/1942


Pacemaker 7/29/1942

When the assembly center closed in September, Ishii was transferred to the Granada Internment Camp in Amache, Colorado. Cartoon Brew said Li’l Neebo appeared in “Granada camp’s newspaper Granada Pioneer. The character was also drawn for the paper by other interned artists, as well as used in puppet shows at the camps.” Cartoon Brew has samples of Li’l Neebo as a comic strip. Newspapers of Amache has links to a Li’l Neebo strip and two illustrations. Sonoma State University’s North Bay Digital Collections has a photograph of Ishii volunteering for the United States Army. The photo’s description said: “…When Chris left Amache, the comic strip was continued by Tom Okamoto, another Disney animator, and later by Jack Ito.” A mini-biography at the Internet Movie Database said:

At the start of World War II he was interned at the Assembly Center at Santa Anita and then transferred to the Granada Relocation Center in Amache, Colorado. In both places, he worked on the camp newspapers as a cartoonist. Volunteering to join the U.S. Army from Amache in 1943, he served in the Military Intelligence Service as an illustrator for the Office of War Information, assigned to the India/China/Burma theater of war. He met and married his wife, Ada Suffiad in Shanghai, bringing her to the U.S. with him at demobilization. After the war he briefly studied art in Paris, France.


Stars and Stripes Magazine Section 1/19/1946


Stars and Stripes Magazine Section 12/29/1946


Archives of American Art said: “…In 1951 he traveled to Paris on the GI Bill to study at the Académie Julian with Fernand Léger.” The IMDb bio said, “…In 1952, he settled with his family in New York…He worked at UPA Studios on ‘A Unicorn in the Garden’ and ‘Madeline,’ and on Gerald McBoing Boing and Mr. Magoo cartoons. Joining with two partners in 1965, he formed Focus Productions…He became a freelance artist in 1975, and contributed the animated sequence in Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall’…”

His wife passed away February 17, 1988. Ishii passed away November 6, 2001, in Dobbs Ferry, New York. A filmography is here.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Tom Okamoto

Sadayuki Thomas Okamoto was born in Kent, Washington on March 15, 1916. His Japanese name is from the record, Japanese Americans Relocated During World War II. The birthplace was on a 1918 passport application, although the birth year was recorded as 1915. His birthdate is from Washington Births, 1907-1919. According to the application, he lived in Hiroshima-ken, Japan since September 28, 1916. He, his mother, older brother and sister arrived in Seattle, Washington on March 16, 1918, as recorded on a passenger ship list. All records are from Ancestry.com.


Okamoto has not been found in the 1920 U.S. Federal Census. His name was recorded on a passenger ship list. From Yokohama, Japan, he arrived in Seattle on November 14, 1927. He has not been found in the 1930 census, and the date of his move to Los Angeles, California is not known. Editor & Publisher, December 24, 1955, said, “…After one year at Sacramento Junior College, he attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, following with a job as staff artist in the Walt Disney studio.” Asian American Art, 1850-1970 (2008) said: “The growing industry of Hollywood provided employment to many Japanese American artists—behind the camera or at the animation table….Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Tyrus Wong, Milton Quon, Wah Ming Chang, James Tanaka, Robert Kuwahara, and Gyo Fujikawa all worked for Disney at some point in the pre-World War II period…”

In late May 1941, a strike was called against Disney. Drawing the Line: The Untold Story of the Animation Unions from Bosko to Bart Simpson (2006), said, “A local newspaper article of the time noted that all four of the Nisei artists went out on strike: Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Masao Kawaguchi, and James Tanaka.” Apparently, the quartet found work elsewhere when the Disney strike ended.




On December 7, 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor had a devastating effect on the Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Tens of thousands of them were relocated in camps. Okamoto found himself at the Santa Anita Assembly Center in Santa Anita, California in April 1942. The assembly center was a racetrack. Here, he was reunited with Chris Ishii and, no doubt, met Bob Kuwahara. A newsletter was created, the Santa Anita Pacemaker. The July 16, 1942 issue had an article about Okamoto:

Artist Paints ‘Last Look,’ Lonely Church Scene

Tom Okamoto, one of the outstanding artists in the Center, who teaches art classes daily from 1 to 5 p.m. in the Grandstand, said, “There are two kinds of art. One is to please other people. The other is to express the way you really feel. I think the latter is much deeper and satisfying.”

As an example of this, after Okamoto was evacuated to Santa Anita from the westside in Los Angeles, he painted a picture called “Last Look.”

In the background of the picture stands the tower of the Japanese M.E. church at 35th and Normandie. The picture has an air of desolateness and loneliness about it.

“I wanted to show the loneliness of the scene. Just before we piled into the buses, I walked around and took one good ‘last look,’ at this place. In spite of all the traffic and people milling about there was a desolation of spirit. I wanted to express it on canvas.”

Okamoto believes that in teaching the students the fundamentals of art, the students should be encouraged to choose objects that are the most familiar to them or closest to them—something they know and understand.

“A teacher,” said Okamoto, “should find out the background of his students in order to bring out their hidden talents and capabilities.”

The Pacemaker also published Ishii’s panel cartoon, Li’l Neebo. Soon, Ishii and Okamoto were transferred to the Granada Internment Camp in Amache, Colorado. Sonoma State University’s North Bay Digital Collections has a photo of Ishii and the description says: “…Chris created a cartoon character names “Lil Nerbo” [sic] or little Nisei boy. The cartoon strip he created quickly became a favorite with evacuees. When Chris left Amache, the comic strip was continued by Tom Okamoto, another Disney animator, and later by Jack Ito.”

According to Editor & Publisher, “…In 1943, he [Okamoto] served in the Army as a master sergeant in military intelligence…” He was stationed at the Military Intelligence Service Language School, located at Fort Snelling in St. Paul, Minnesota. While he was there, Okamoto designed an emblem for the school. Editor & Publisher also said: “…when he was discharged in 1947, he went to Art Center School in Los Angeles until 1951.”


This snippet was found in Scene, The International East-West Magazine, Volume 3, 1951: “Tom Okamoto, California cartoonist, gets fresh ideas for his syndicated cartoon strip by watching his two sons, Deems and Eric, in the living room of the Okamotos’ new home in El Monte, Calif. Mrs. Okamoto looks on.” Named after his oldest son, Deems began sometime in 1951. In late 1955, his strip, Little Brave, was named the top winner in United Feature Syndicate’s $10,000 Talent Comics Contest. The Sunday Herald (Connecticut), February 12, 1956, announced the winners, too. He used the pseudonym Tom Mako on his strip.



The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 12/5/1957

Oswego Valley News (New York) 12/21/1967

The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 6/19/1958

The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 10/24/1957

The Herald (Blasdell, NY) 5/15/1958


Okamoto passed away November 20, 1978, in Contra Costa, California, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com.

Ink-Slinger Profiles: Bob Kuwahara

Robert “Bob” Kuwahara was born in Tokyo, Japan on August 12, 1901, according to Kuwahara’s biographical sketch at the In Memoriam page of the National Cartoonists Society (NCS) website. Wikipedia said his Japanese name was Rokuro. The NCS bio said he, “…came to good ol’ U.S.A. in 1910…held a book upside down the first day in school but managed to get away with a sheepskin from the Los Angeles Polytechnic High School in 1921…” Asian American Art, 1850-1970 (2008) said he lived in Santa Barbara, California from 1910 to 1914, then in Los Angeles. The newsletter, Santa Anita Pacemaker (California), July 1, 1942, published “Former Studio Artist Now Supervises Art Classes” which said, “…Kuwahara got his start as a cartoonist for the Poly Optimist, a Los Angeles high school newspaper. He attended the Otis Art institute then went to New York where he did portrait work for well-known book publishers.”


The 1920 U.S. Federal Census recorded Rokuro Kuwahara in Los Angeles at 138 Carr Street. He was the youngest of six children born to Yusho and Yoshio. His father operated a laundry. According to the NCS bio, “…followed 7 years of drawing and painting at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles…off to New York in May, 1929 for a fling at commercial art…Crash!…You know what happened in 1929…”

Asian American Art said he:

…worked as an editor of the English section of the Rafu Nichi-Bei newspaper. After resigning from the Rafu Nichi-Bei in 1929, Kuwahara held a successful solo-exhibition of pastel portraits and pen sketches at the Olympic Hotel in Los Angeles and sold thirty-two pieces. The Rafu Shimpo newspaper reproduced two of Kuwahara’s sketches…with a review of the show….Shortly after this success, Kuwahara moved to New York City to work as a freelance portraitist and artist for various book publishers.

In the 1930 census he lived in the Bronx, New York at 950 Woodycrest Avenue, apartment B25. He was a commercial artist. His roommate, Thomas Hayakawa, was a translator. His drawing of Ralph Waldo Emerson was recorded in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 4, Works of Art, Etc. 1930 New Series, Volume 25, Number 3. The New York Times, April 3, 1932, published a portrait of Emerson by Kuwahara. The portrait was copyrighted by William Edwin Rudge, a book publisher, who produced an Emerson book, Uncollected Lectures, in 1932. Evidently, Kuwahara’s drawing was based on a photograph.



According to Asian American Art he returned to California in 1931. In Los Angeles, he found work in animation and married Julia Suski, a musician and graphic designer for the Rafu Shimpo. At NCS, Kuwahara wrote that he “went crawling back home and to work for Walt Disney in 1932. Then off to M.G.M. in 1937…” Some of his Disney credits are at The Encyclopedia of Disney Animated Shorts. Asian American Art said, “…Chris Ishii, Tom Okamoto, Tyrus Wong, Milton Quon, Wah Ming Chang, James Tanaka, Robert Kuwahara, and Gyo Fujikawa all worked for Disney at some point in the pre-World War II period…”






His mother passed away April 3, 1940, according to the California Death Index at Ancestry.com. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, life for the Japanese on the West Coast was in upheaval. Tens of thousands of American citizens were removed from their homes and sent to camps under military supervision. Asian American Art said:

During internment, Kuwahara and his family were held first at the Santa Anita Assembly Center and then at Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. Kuwahara’s accomplishments were well known to camp supervisors. While at Santa Anita, Kuwahara was allowed to teach art classes twice a week.

The Santa Anita Assembly Center was in use for six months, April to September 1942. The center’s newsletter, Santa Anita Pacemaker, was published during that time. Kuwahara was mentioned in the following issues: June 3, 1942, page 3, “Candidates for Election“; June 6, 1942, page 1, “Art Classes“; July 1, 1942, page 2, “Royal Spartans See Magic”, and page 3, “Former Studio Artist Now Supervises Art Classes” (available at Genealogy.com); July 4, 1942, page 4, “Creativeness Shown in Handicraft Exhibit.”

During the relocation to Heart Mountain, Asian American Art said he collaborated with a group of “Nisei artists that included Hideo Date, Riyo Sato, and Benji Okubo….they practiced their craft, taught art classes to the residents, and displayed their works in shows….In 1943, Kuwahara exhibited a collection of watercolors at the Chicago branch of the American Friends Service Committee.” With his release in 1943, he moved to Chicago to work as a commercial artist. The Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlets, Etc. 1944 New Series, Volume 41, Number 12 had the following entry.



[Kuwahara (Robert)] Animal coloring book. [Body by R. Kuwahara, cover by J.C. Schumacher: © Nov.’ 8, 1944; AA 469537; Merrill pub. co. Chicago. 33037



At NCS, Kuwahara said, “…we finally resettled in Larchmont, N.Y. in 1945. Did a comic strip “Miki” for G.M. Adams Service for 5 years but couldn’t pull up it’s circulation…gave it up and went to work for Paul Terry in 1950…Paul sold out to C.B.S. in 1955…studio is now known as Terrytoons-CBS…” According to Asian American Art, he lived in New Rochelle, New York, from 1945 to 1950, before settling in Larchmont. Terry’s name was credited to the comic strip Barker Bill, but it was ghosted by Kuwahara. The Winnipeg Free Press published the strip beginning September 27, 1954 (below). Tralfaz has the first week here. Mark Kausler’s CatBlog has more strips here and here. (Use the search box for more Barker Bill strips.)



On December 24, 1955, Editor & Publisher announced the five winners in “United Feature Syndicate’s $10,000 Talent Comics Contest.” Kuwahara’s Marvelous Mike was one of them. Also a winner was Little Brave by Thomas Okamoto, who was interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center. When the Sunday Herald (Connecticut), February 12, 1956, reported the winners of the contest, Okamoto used the pseudonym, Tom Mako. Marvelous Mike strips can be viewed here (first two weeks) and here (final week). Mark Kausler’s CatBlog has the entire run of Marvelous Mike. It begins here and continues for 75 posts.


Debut


Asian American Art said, “He created the Hashimoto Mouse character that appeared in the theatrical release of Hashimoto-san (1959) and directed episodes of the animated television cartoon series Hashimoto Mouse (1959–1963). He also directed episodes of Deputy Dawg.” Hashimoto-san is discussed at the Nishikata Film Review. His filmography is at the Internet Movie Database.

Lastly at NCS, Kuwahara said about himself, “…Hobby: Golf, what else?…Sport: Golf, What else? Most frustrating game I know…but, dammit, I love it!!” He passed away December 10, 1964, in Larchmont, according to Asian American Art. The Social Security Death Index said his wife passed away September 20, 1996. The couple were among the over one million names placed on the STARDUST spacecraft, launched in 1999.

Obscurity of the Day: Miki

It is the nature of the newspaper comics business that if a new feature catches on big, me-too features will follow. And there’s at least a slightly more practical reason for the practice than might at first meet the eye. It is easy to dismiss imitation features as the product of people trying to make a quick buck off of someone else’s good idea, and that’s certainly a big part of the strategy. But there’s also the factor of newspaper features being sold under exclusive contracts. For example, let’s say that Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a big hit (that’s not much of a stretch). Now let’s say the San Francisco Chronicle has bought the exclusive rights to it in their market. The other San Francisco papers, not to mention Oakland and other surrounding cities, are frozen out. So when another syndicate comes along with a similar feature, and practically every other syndicate did jump on the ‘odd facts’ bandwagon tout de suite, those papers are downright eager to counter the Chronicle‘s popular new feature with something similar.

Nowadays, when only a few markets like New York and Washington have multiple newspapers, the exclusive contract is a very minor factor, and consequently you don’t see many outright copycat features anymore. But back in the day, me-too features fulfilled a pretty important role in competitive markets.

So I said all that so that I could say this: here’s a feature that takes “me-too”ism in a weird direction. Miki is a bald-faced attempt to copy Crockett Johnson’s great Barnaby, of that there can be no doubt. The weird part is that Barnaby was never a particularly successful strip — speaking, of course, financially, not artistically. Why would you market a copy of a strip that runs in, oh, let’s be charitable and just say less than a hundred papers.

Misguided as it seems, the syndicate, George Matthew Adams Service, wasn’t exactly saddled with a long list of big-selling features in the mid-40s, so maybe a strip that had a chance to sell in a few big markets because of the copycat angle seemed worth it. If that was the idea, I guess the few papers they did sell on that basis (for instance, the Brooklyn Eagle in the NYC market) seem to have made it worthwhile to the tune of a five year run. The strip debuted on March 26 1945 and ended on July 1 1950.

Me-too features are rarely memorable, for obvious reasons. Hobbled from the start with the mission of duplicating another feature, the cartoonist not feeling any sense of ownership, what can one expect? If not outright disaster, certainly a pedestrian feature. So was Miki one of them? Sadly, very much so. Everything that made Barnaby great was missing from Miki. The great characters, the magic and whimsy, the nostalgia for childhood — all utterly missing from Miki.

Creator Bob Kuwahara worked on the strip under the pseudonym Bob Kay for political reasons; but also, I’m guessing, he was content to not be identified with it. At the end of World War II, the American newspaper reader was not going to take kindly to an Asian name on the comics page, and that probably suited Kuwahara just fine in this case.  

Miki seems to be embarrassed of itself. The doppelgangers for Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley — Miki and Uncle Harry — are entirely devoid of personality, which is no great loss because they appear in the strip as seldom as possible. The setup to the typical story has Miki learning of a problem, telling Uncle Harry about it, and Harry does some magic that will fix the situation eventually. That business is usually transacted in a matter of two to three strips. Then the story, with Miki and Uncle Harry now offstage, goes on for weeks.

If Kuwahara was trying to spotlight his other characters, Miki’s parents and a buddy, Mr. Morris, in lieu of Miki, that would be understandable. They, at least, weren’t created as knock-offs. The problem is, though, that they don’t have personalities either. They all seem to sleepwalk through the stories struggling to appear even one-dimensional. They seem like disgruntled actors who are trying to be fired from the production. Maybe this was Kuwahara trying to kill the strip. If it was, he was certainly using slow-acting poison.

NB: Sorry about the missing art on the sample strips. They came from the Youngstown Vindicator, which trimmed the strip bottoms in order to fit more on a page. Unfortunately I have no runs from a paper that printed the strips complete.

Obscurity of the Day: Gus and Gussie

Paul Fung was generally employed behind the scenes, assisting or subbing for other cartoonists, and brilliantly so, but he does have a few signed credits. Here is the longest-lasting feature with which he was involved, Gus and Gussie. On this delightful strip Fung drew and Jack Lait wrote.

Lait was a Hearst yeoman who at various times was a sports reporter, crime reporter, columnist, syndicate editor, and newspaper general manager — often wearing several of those hats at the same time. There are claims that in his heyday he had more words published per year than anyone else in the world — a claim that may well be true, since in addition to his newspaper work he also wrote short stories, plays and novels. In short, this was a guy who torture-tested his typewriters.

Lait probably never spent more than five minutes per day writing Gus and Gussie, but that was enough to make it one of the snappiest strips around. Gus the waiter and Gussie the hat-check girl speak an entertaining Runyonesque patois full of street slang and malapropisms, making every strip an adventure in decoding the duo’s jargon.Early on in the strip the focus is on the peppery dialogue and their dealings with the nightclub patrons, but as the series went on the duo branched out into other employment opportunities, and longer, more involved, storylines.

The art by Fung constantly betrays traces of Billy DeBeck and Chic Young, two cartoonists he assisted or subbed for at various times. Whether this is Fung’s native style is hard to say as he seemed to be a true chameleon.

Gus and Gussie ran in a modest number of client papers from April 13 1925 to February 24 1930. Fung was called on to replace Chic Young on Dumb Dora at this time, and apparently Lait had no wish to continue the strip with someone else at the art helm.
 

Jack Lait publicity photos courtesy of Cole Johnson

Excuse the Interruption…

I know, I know. The rest of May was supposed to be posts related to Asian-American cartoonists. But I have to horn in here for just a moment to put on the record that I most emphatically DO NOT believe that newspaper readers are senile! Why? Well, I’ll try to keep it short…

A very nice reporter with the Rock Hill (SC) Herald called me for some bon mots about comic strips, and of course I was happy to comply. In the reporter’s article, which you can find here, I am recorded as saying that the newspaper audience is becoming senile.

I was, in fact, talking about the aging newspaper audience, and it is possible that in a lighthearted moment I jestingly made some mention of senility, though I do not recall having done so. But if I did, it was obviously made with tongue firmly in cheek, and obviously should not have been quoted as if I were, in all earnestness, contending that newspaper readers are suffering from dementia.

I realize that reporters have relentless deadlines, and I sympathize that they are underpaid and overworked. I have just enough experience dealing with reporters to know that if you get quoted precisely, and in context, you should consider it a small miracle. So I haven’t complained to the reporter or the newspaper about the article, which quotes me extensively and in most cases, incorrectly. I just wanted to go on record here, just in case someone reads the article and comes to visit the blog thinking I’m a raving lunatic, that I do not think that newspaper readers (a group of which I am a proud member) are a group of doddering old fools. We may be old, but we are better informed than most of the public, who get what they laughingly call news from TV. 

News of Yore: Paul Fung, National Cartoonist


Paul Fung a Newspaper Artist
of Real Distinction.

by Alexander Samalman
The Fourth Estate, 1925



China has produced a myriad philosophers, poets and water color artists, but only one American newspaper cartoonist.

The only representative of the ancient nation in the realms of comic art is Paul Fung, who illustrates Jack Lait’s Gus and Gussie for King Features Syndicate.


Circulation 1926, courtesy of Ron Goulart


Paul Fung was born in Seattle, the son of a Doctor of Divinity who presided over a Chinese Baptist Church. All of which goes to show that “Cartoonville” is the proper place for a Chinese minister’s son.


When he was 5 he went to Canton, China, where he studied for 6 years, working for some time with a man who painted water colors on fans. An elder sister who lived in Seattle accumulated piles of American comic sheets and sent them to him from time to time. In his Oriental surroundings he devoured them greedily and dreamed dreams of becoming an American newspaper artist.

He returned to the United States. His family at that time lived at Portland, Ore., and there he got his start in the newspaper business as a carrier boy for the Portland News.

He studied at American High Schools and then at the University of Washington, taking an art course. Meanwhile he drew posters for a theatrical enterprise. Later he become a full-fledged newspaper cartoonist on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, doing sport, political and feature pictures.

He attained local fame as a cartoonist and also as an entertainer, for he appeared for some time in a chalk-talk monologue at vaudeville theaters.

Several of his war cartoons, in especial one entitled “The Sweetheart of the Allies,” which pictured a Salvation Army lassie, spread his fame throughout the nation.

He entered the employ of the Post-Intelligencer at the age of 17 and worked on that paper for nine years. A daily feature during the last two years of his stay with the Post-Intelligencer was Fitch and Fung, which consisted of verses by Carlton Fitchet [sic] illustrated by Paul Fung.

Billy De Beck, creator of Barney Google, met Fung while on one of his western trips, and persuaded the young Chinese artist to come east. Soon Fung signed up with King Features Syndicate in New York and began The [sic] Guy From Grand Rapids, dealing with the adventures of a lonesome man alone in Gotham. This ran for a year, then Fung began his work as the illustrator of Gus and Gussie, which is written by Jack Lait.


A Guy From Grand Rapids 12/19/1923


At the age of 28, Fung is an eminently successful newspaper artist, known throughout America as a careful, capable craftsman.

“I draw because I enjoy it,” says Fung. “I always liked to draw more than I liked anything else. I have two brothers who are also interested in art. Silas is studing [sic] at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and Timothy is doing well as a commercial artist.

“I must express my gratitude to Billy De Beck, whose encouragement and friendship have meant a lot to me.”

“I am a pure Chinese, but please discredit any rumors that I’m identified with a tong!”

And Paul laughed at his little jest while he bent froward [sic] over his drawing board to draw the curls on the head of his character, Gussie.


News of Yore: Paul Fung Runs Afoul of Immigration

Seattle Post Intelligencer 8/18 or 19/1923

(The Chinese Exclusion Act, passed in 1882, restricted the entry of Chinese into the United States. Its purpose was to keep out Chinese laborers. The act was renewed in 1892 and eventually made permanent. For the Chinese Americans already in America, they had to notify immigration whenever they traveled to a foreign country or territory, such as Hawaii. The travel documents of the Chinese were made in triplicate and shared with other immigration offices. For example, a Chinese resident of Chicago would have a file there. If he traveled to China through Seattle, then a file would be opened in there.

Back in 1921, Paul Fung filled out Form 430, above, for the U.S. Department of Labor Immigration Service. When he decided to make a brief trip to Vancouver in August 1923, he submitted the form, and it was approved: “Reissued for trip to Canada August 16, 1923. Commissioner”. There was a mix-up in Vancouver that was eventually resolved. While Fung waited at the hotel, he wrote a thank you letter to Mr. Weedin. This letter, below, was stamped “Received August 20 1923 U.S. Immigration Service Seattle”, and placed in his file. All of the documents are from Fung’s file at the Seattle branch of the National Archives and Records Administration.)