Asian American Studies Collection


The mission of the Asian American Studies Collections (AASC) is primarily to support the curriculum program of the undergraduate and graduate students and the research of the faculty in the Ethnic Studies Department. It is also to provide support in this area to the other University of California campuses and the general community at large.

Often the term “East Asian” and “Asian American” cause confusion in relation to library collections. Traditionally, the East Asian collections focused on East Asian countries such as Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and China rather than on the distinct experiences of Asians in America or of Chinese in other countries, known as Chinese Overseas. Asian Americans include the following groups: Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, South Asians (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka Americans), and Southeast Asians (Burmese, Cambodian (Kampuchean), Lao, Lao Hmong, Lao Mien, Thai, Vietnamese Americans). 

The Asian American Studies Collection (AASC) is the result of intensive acquisition for more than thirty five years. It is today one of the most comprehensive and unique Asian American resources in the United States. It contains materials on the cultural, political, and socio-economic life of Asian Americans. Aside from developing a core collection on the identified Asian American groups—Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian American (Cambodian, Lao, Lao Hmong, Lao Mien, Thai, and Vietnamese Americans) and materials on Pacific Islanders, the AASC also contains the largest Chinese American archival collection in the world.


Asian American Archives

The mission Asian American Archives at the Ethnic Studies Library is primarily to support research conducted by faculty and students in the Ethnic Studies Department as well as to make accessible our rich historical resources to the campus community and the general public. The Archives contain manuscripts, diaries, correspondence, newsletters, photographs and other primary source materials documenting Asian American communities in the Bay Area, nationally, and internationally. The Archives contains particularly strong archival collections on Chinese Americans and Chinese Overseas including the largest collection of biographies on prominent people in different fields and on active community members. There are over hundred unique archival collections including, to name just a few, the collection of Mr. Him Mark Lai and Mr. Yuk Ow, both renowned Chinese American historian and the documents of the Chinese Empire Reform Association (it also called Baohuang Hui) on the political activities of Chinese Overseas, particularly the activities of Kang You-wei, Liang Qi-chao and Xu Qin.

The Asian American Archives contains and is actively pursuing collections on Filipino Americans, Japanese Americans, Asian American student and community organizations, and more. In addition to continuing to build the Chinese American and Chinese Overseas archives, the Asian American Archives is pursuing archival documentation on topics including but not limited to: South Asian Americans, Southeast Asian Americans, LGBTQ Asian Americans, Asian American activism and radicalism, and the history of Asian American Studies. For more information on our holdings or to discuss donating archival materials, please contact Asian American Studies Library Sine Hwang Jensen at shj [at] berkeley [dot] edu


Below is information on some of the Asian American Studies archival collections. This is not a comprehensive list of our holdings. 

The AAS Collection has the following finding aids in the Online Archive of California:

The AAS Collection has the following finding aids in an alternative format to that of the OAC:

Exhibits and Virtual Collections

  • The Chinese in California, 1850-1925 is a virtual exhibit of selected holdings from collections housed in the archives and special collections of The Bancroft Library, The Ethnic Studies Library and the California Historical Society. Presenting approximately 8000 images, this virtual archive makes accessible material related to the history of the Chinese people in California between 1850 and 1925. A guide to the virtual collection is available at the Online Archive of California.
  • Chinese Overseas: Challenges & Contributions was an exhibit at the Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, Doe Library, University of California, Berkeley in Fall 2002. The exhibit was the result of the collaboration of five libraries: The Bancroft Library, the Center for Chinese Studies Library, the East Asian Library, the Ethnic Studies Library, and the South/Southeast Asia Library. The resources displayed documented the challenges and triumphs of Chinese Overeas as well as their contributions to their adopted and host countries and to their homeland.

Documents Relating to the International Hotel in San Francisco:

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