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The Angel of Angel Island

Katherine Maurer was honored and respected as the Angel of Angel Island as she eased the dull and monotonous life of detainees. One of the most regular visitors, United Methodist Deaconess Katherine Maurer (1881-1962), was appointed in 1912 by the Woman's Home Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church to do Chinese welfare work at the immigration station. The deaconess, who became known as the "Angel of Angel Island," was known to help detainees write letters, taught English, and performed other small services, primarily for the women and children, to make their stay somewhat more bearable.

As chief welfare worker, this Methodist deaconess strove to make the period of detention as comfortable as possible, physically, psychologically, and even spiritually. She supplied basic needs and offered support and counsel. Her therapeutic skills, acquired when the social work profession was new, and enhanced through her years of experience, would still be effective today. Many personal letters and poems of thanks attest to deep gratitude for her "goodness and kindness to many brokenhearted people."

She believed in the inherent equality of people. "I am glad,” she remarked, “I was taught as a child to love all people and God has given me reason to have faith in my fellow man, irrespective of nationality or creed.“ In her work as a "missionary among immigrants" Maurer drew on her own immigrant background and her commitment as a deaconess to those in need.

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