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Carla McGregor, Marriage, Women, Citizenship & Naturalization Laws in the Late 1800s: Loss of Citizenship Through Marriage

The first American-born child of Chinese ancestry, Lillie Lee lost her citizenship in 1912 when she married Leong Gin Wong, an immigrant from China, who because of his race was ineligible for citizenship, regaining it fifty four years later in 1966 after the federal law changed. In contrast, once the federal law was changed in the 1940s to allow natives of China to become naturalized citizens, Mrs. Marie Wong Bellegras became the first woman of Chinese ancestry in Baltimore to complete and pass her naturalization examination. This project begins an examination of how naturalization and immigration laws impacted on the Chinese women’s ability to marry.