the original asian american study aids

This is a really cool, fascinating article on the recent discovery of a small brown notebook containing "coaching" materials that might have been used by a Chinese immigrant, Chung Fook Wing, when he entered the United States in 1923: 53 Questions That a Life May Depend On.

Though few of these old school cheat sheets survived (apparently, you were supposed to throw them overboard), they were fairly commonplace among aspiring immigrants, and used as study aids to prep for their interviews to get into the United States. Yes, even back then, we were studying.

The notebook has apparently been long overlooked in the National Archives and Records Administration in New York. Seventeen years after immigrating, Chung was arrested on a drug possession charge by New York City police and the notebook -- 50 pages of coarse sheets bound by string -- turned up in a search of his papers at a New Jersey opium den.

Taking up eight of the pages were handwritten answers to 53 questions that a newcomer could have anticipated being asked upon entry or re-entry leading federal agents to suspect they were written as study aids to "coach" the book's owner through the process.

It's a fascinating glimpse at the era, of paper sons and exclusion laws, and the way Chinese immigrants attempted to get around these sharply governed, racist restrictions to gain entry into America. Read the article, then take a look at the scan of the original notebook: A Chinese Immigrant's Coaching Document.

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