Asian American Studies Collection

Image from zine "Asians Unite!" ca. 1970, Third World Strike at University of California, Berkeley collection, 1968-1972, CES ARC 2015/1.
The Ethnic Studies Library is open for visitors! Our book, journal, vertical file, and special collections are open for drop-in research. Our archives are open and you are welcome to visit. Please e-mail Sine Hwang Jensen, Asian American Studies Librarian (shj [at] berkeley [dot] edu) to schedule a research appointment.
The Ethnic Studies Library is excited to announce the recent donation of the Loni Ding Archives. Read more about the collection and stay tuned for updates by following our website. 
Mission and Overview

The mission of the Asian American Studies Collection is to preserve and make accessible interdisciplinary knowledge and history of Asian communities in the United States and the diaspora. The mission is to support scholarship, research, and activism that supports Asian communities. 

Often the terms “Asian” and “Asian American” cause confusion in relation to library collections. Traditionally, East Asian libraries and collections focus on East Asian countries such as China, Japan, and Korea, rather than on the distinct experiences of these groups in America or in other countries. Historically, these collections have developed as part of Area Studies disciplines that are inextricably tied to global forces such as colonialism, imperialism and militarism. 

In contrast, the term "Asian American" was coined by historian Yuji Ichioka in the late-1960s in conjunction with the emergence of Asian American, Third World, and decolonization social movements in the United States and across the world. It described a new internationalist and pan-ethnic identity formed out of solidarity amongst Asians in the United States and the diaspora as well as with Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color. The term "Asian American" emerged as a political identity, rooted in movements like the Third World Liberation Front.

Today, the term "Asian American" is often used as a demographic marker, one that is not always embraced by Asians in the United States. The dynamic boundaries of Asia are defined by historical and geopolitical forces and thus, the terms "Asian" and "Asian American" are not static and encompass a large number of national, ethnic, and sometimes religious, identities. 

The collection includes materials by, about and from Southeast Asian, South Asian, and East Asian communities and diasporas. In addition, many works in Arab American Studies find a home in the Asian American Studies Collection. While some material exists in the Asian American Studies Collection related to Pacific Islander communities, the terminology AAPI or API has historically marginalized Pacific Islands Studies. Pacific Islander materials are located in Native American Studies, Comparative Ethnic Studies, and Asian American Studies but they are brought together under the heading Pacific Islands Studies Collection. For more information, see the Critical Pacific Islands Studies Library Guide

Asian American Studies Vertical Files

The Asian American Studies vertical files contain two major collections: the Asian American Studies Organizations/Newsletters and the Asian American Studies Newsclippings collections.

The Asian American Studies Organizations/Newsletters are an extensive collection of flyers, newsletters, meeting minutes, booklets, pamphlets, and other materials produced by over 1,000 Asian American community organizations. These files are library use only and can be accessed by visiting the Ethnic Studies Library. The Asian American Studies Newsclippings contains newsclippings related to Asian American history, politics, arts, culture, and community.

Please see the following documents for more information on these collections:

 Asian American Studies Archives

The mission of the Asian American Studies 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 increase public knowledge of Asian American history and life by making 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 one 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 historians and the documents of the Chinese Empire Reform Association (also called Baohuang Hui), Chinese American Democratic Youth League (also known as Mun Ching), on the political activities of Chinese and Chinese Americans, including the activities of Kang You-wei, Liang Qi-chao and Xu Qin.

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, Asian American student organizations, 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

Asian American Studies Archival Collections

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

Click here to download the Asian American Archives Summary which includes the call numbers, title, and dates of our processed and available collections.

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:

Links to Additional Archival Collections

Exhibits and Virtual Collections

  • The Asian American Political Alliance Oral History Project was led by Elaine Kim, Harvey Dong and Hannah Choe and consists of in-depth oral histories with AAPA veterans. 
  • The Chung Sai Yat Po Newspaper Collection consists of published issues from 1900 to 1905. Chung Sai Yat Po (Zhong Xi Ribao) was a Chinese language newspaper founded by Ng Poon Chew and published in San Francisco, California from 1900 to 1951. The newspaper was an important part and reflection of the San Francisco Chinatown community. Issues from 1901 to 1905 were digitized and are available on Calisphere. Microfilms of these and other years are available at the East Asian Library and the Ethnic Studies Library.
  • 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:

Related Links