Skip to main content

Indonesian Sailors Deportation Photograph Collection

Identifier: SPC-2016-001

Scope and Content

This collection consists of nine black and white photographs with captions, one magazine, and one flyer. The collection documents the detention of a group of Indonesian seamen in 1946 or 1947 as they await the outcome of deportation proceedings in the federal courts. The images show these roughly 200-300 men at an immigration detention center in downtown San Francisco, at the Southern Pacific depot in San Francisco, and on a ship called the "Marine Lynx" docked in the San Francisco Bay. The men on the Marine Lynx were waiting to be deported to Batavia, Dutch East Indies (modern day Indonesia). These men were later photographed at the Southern Pacific depot waiting for a train to Crystal City, Texas. Information accompanying the images states that they are from 1947, but historical accounts of the events depicted in the images suggest the photographs were taken in 1946.


  • 1946-1947


There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from items in the collection must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


The Indonesian National Revolution against Dutch colonial rule began on August 17, 1945 when the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was broadcast by radio throughout the country. In the following months, Indonesian seamen who were docked in US ports began leaving Dutch and English ships, which they asserted were carrying weapons that would be used against their countrymen. The striking seamen were supported by the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) and a variety of other civil rights and labor activists. When the shipping companies terminated the employment of the Indonesian seamen they were left without valid visas. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service detained these unemployed sailors and in June of 1946 the Justice Department began deportation proceedings against them. CIO Lawyers Harold Sawyer and Leo Gallagher argued that the Indonesian seamen were entitled to political asylum and filed a petition of habeas corpus to halt their deportation. As a result of this legal action the Indonesian seamen were removed from a ship waiting to return them to the Dutch East Indies (as Indonesia was called at the time), and put on a train to the Justice Department camp in Crystal City, Texas. A federal judge later ruled that the Indonesian seamen were prohibited by the alien exclusion act from remaining in the country. All of their subsequent appeals were denied and on January 13, 1947 roughly 300 Indonesian seamen were deported from the United States.


1 box

0.21 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This collection contains nine photographs, one flyer, and one magazine related to the detetion of a group of Indonesian seamen in 1947. The images depict about 200-300 men at an immigration detetion center in downtown San Francisco, at the Southern Pacific depot in San Francisco, and on a ship called the "Marine Lync" in San Francisco Bay. The photographs in this collection have been digitized and are available online.


Arranged in three folders.

Acquisition Information

Archives acquisition.

Related Material

This collection is part of the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project. For more information: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Evan Tucker, 2016.

Inventory of the Indonesian Sailors Deportation Photograph Collection
Finding aid prepared by Evan Tucker
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections Repository

University Library South -5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747