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Anna Pegler-Gordon

Anna   Pegler-Gordon
  • Professor
  • Faculty
  • Case Hall Room N361
  • 842 Chestnut Rd
  • East Lansing, MI 48825
  • 517-355-6548


Ph.D., University of Michigan; American Studies

Professor Pegler-Gordon teaches courses in Asian American history, immigration policy, comparative race and ethnic relations and U.S. racial and immigration history. She has received fellowships for her teaching and research, including national and international awards from the Organization of American Historians, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and the Japanese Association for American Studies.

Professor Pegler-Gordon has also been a visiting research fellow at the University of London School of Advanced Study. At MSU, she has received a Teacher-Scholar award, as well as an Intramural Research Grant Program (IRGP) grant and a Lilly Teaching Fellowship. Professor Pegler-Gordon has served as director of MSU’s Asian Pacific American Studies Program and as director of the Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Teaching Program, a fellowship program for graduate students based in James Madison College.

Professor Pegler-Gordon’s first book, In Sight of America: Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy (University of California Press, 2009) won the Immigration and Ethnic History Society’s 2009 Theodore Saloutos prize “for the book judged best on any aspect of the immigration history of the United States.” An American Quarterly drawn from this research was selected for inclusion as the lead essay in Best American History Essays. Professor Pegler-Gordon is currently working on a book project on representations of Chinese Americans during World War II, as well as articles about Japanese American resistance outside of confinement camps during World War II and about Chinese American citizenship during the early 20th century. Her second book, Closing the Golden Door: Asian Migration and the Hidden History of Exclusion at Ellis Island was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2021.


Professor Anna Pegler-Gordon published, “Shanghaied in Hoboken: Chinese Exclusion and Maritime Regulation at Ellis Island,” Journal for Maritime Research, November 2014.

Professor Anna Pegler-Gordon published, “Documenting Belonging, Immigrants and Identity,” From There to Here, edited by Anonda Bell. Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutger—Newark.  September 2014.

Professor Anna Pegler-Gordon gave the presentations: “‘America's Chief Deportation Depot:’ Chinese New Yorkers at Ellis Island,” at the Association for Asian American Studies meeting in Evanston, IL, April 2015 and “The Injustice in Internment: The Legal, Historical, and Social Implications of Korematsu v.  United States,” as a panel participant at the MSU College of Law, February 2015.

During 2013 and 2014, Professor Pegler-Gordon served as the state scholar for the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition, Journey Stories. She followed the Smithsonian exhibition to various locations across Michigan, working with local high school students and presenting community lectures. Her travels took her to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Alpena; the Erickson Center for the Arts, Curtis (in the middle of a deep U.P. December snowstorm!); the Charlevoix Public Library; as well as the North Berrien Historical Museum, Coloma, in southwest Michigan; and, the Dundee Historic Mill, in the southeast. 

Professor Pegler-Gordon presented her research at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, the Association for Asian American Studies Annual Meeting, the North American Labor History Conference, and the Center for Citizenship Studies Conference during the 2013-2014 academic year.

During summer 2013, Professor Pegler-Gordon traveled farther south to Salvador, Brazil, leading incoming first-year students on a seminar abroad with Dr. Galia Benitez.  

During the fall semester 2012, Professor Pegler-Gordon was on research leave working on her second book manuscript, a study of Asian immigrants, sailors, smugglers, detainees, and deportees at Ellis Island.  Her leave was funded by an MSU Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) Fellowship. 

In November 2012, Professor Pegler-Gordon attended the American Studies Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to present on different research titled "Citizen Aliens: Chinese Migrants and the Challenge to U.S. Territorial Citizenship." 

In January 2013, Professor Pegler-Gordon became the Director of MSU's Asian Pacific American Studies Program.

Professor Pegler-Gordon was appointed as the State Scholar for the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition, Journey Stories. 

Professor Anna Pegler-Gordon presented her latest research, "Angel Island of the East: Enforcing Exclusion at Ellis Island," at the Association for Asian American Studies Annual Meeting in Washington, DC in April 2011.

Professor Pegler-Gordon attended the Organization of American Historians and Immigration and Ethnic History Society's Annual Meeting in Milwaukee as an IEHS Executive Board member and chair of the nominating committee in April 2012.

Professor Pegler-Gordon is completing her term as acting director of MSU's Asian Pacific American Studies program at the end of December 2010. She directed and presented at a workshop for high school teachers interested in learning more about Asian American Studies in April 2010.

Anna Pegler-Gordon will be presenting "Asians at Ellis Island: Rethinking the Immigration Station as a Detention Center" at the American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Boston, in early January 2011.

Anna Pegler-Gordon's book, In Sight of America: Photography and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy (University of California Press, 2009) won the Immigration and Ethnic History Society's 2009 Theodore Saloutus prize "for the book judged best on any aspect of the immigration history of the United States.

Anna Pegler-Gordon was selected by the Organization of American Historians and the Japanese Association for American Studies to receive Short Term Residency at Nagoya City University (2009). As one of two U.S. scholars selected each year, she gave a series of lectures, seminars and presentations to Japanese faculty, graduate students and undergraduates studying U.S. ethnic and immigration history.

Anna Pegler-Gordon was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of the Americas, School for Advanced Study, University of London, in 2008.

Anna Pegler-Gordon's essay "Chinese Exclusion, Photography, and the Development of U.S. Immigration Policy" was selected for inclusion in the Organization of American Historian's book, The Best American History Essays 2008, published by Palgrave Macmillan.  The editorial board of nine historians read hundreds of articles published in 2006-2007 and pared the list down to 36 finalists from which the 10 best were selected for inclusion.

Anna Pegler-Gordon was Acting Director of the University's Asian Pacific American Studies program during the 2006-2007 academic year.