Archiving the Chinese in California: Digitizing the ethnographic collections of the Chinese Historical Museum of America and San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

Material Description

CHSA nominates two important collections for this digitization project, the William Hoy Collection and the Thomas W. Chinn Collection. Both collections were donated to the CHSA in 2000 and 2001 respectively. Chinn, one of the four founders of CHSA, and Hoy were deeply involved in the publishing business within the San Francisco Chinese community starting in the 1930s, as editors and publishers of Chinese Digest and Chinese Press. Their careers were dedicated to connecting the Chinese community through print media. They published articles on current events as well as historical stories to give context to the legal and social discrimination the community faced at that time. The two collections include files on general Chinese American history, political, religious and social organizations, notable community leaders, photographs of Chinese pioneers of California, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and Chinatowns, and rare publications dating from the 1880s. SDCHM collections that have been selected for digitization include a collection of materials from the pioneering families of San Diego's Chinatown. Around the turn of the twentieth century, the Quon, Hom and Quin families were early Chinese merchants and leaders in the community; their collections include photographs, letters, business ledgers and family heirlooms. SDCHM will also digitize approximately a thousand anthropological artifacts related to Chinese immigrants and Chinese American History in Southern California dating from 1885-1980 that have been donated by museum patrons as well as the oral histories of 50 first and second-generation San Diego Chinatown residents, many who served in WWII. Lastly, SDCHM proposes to digitize artifacts belonging to 80 Chinese American veterans who served in the Pacific and European theaters of WWII; this collection includes documents and letters written during the war, and even a series of cartoons one officer drew during his time in the army.

Year Added:



Chinese Historical Museum of America


Ms. Pamela Wong
Chinese Historical Society of America

Ms. Tiffany Beres
San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

Ms. Sue Lee
Chinese Historical Society of America

Collaborating Institution(s)

San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

Date Range

1885 - 1980

Geographic Scope

CHSA materials cover events and history of Chinese in the United States with a focus in California and specifically, the San Francisco Bay Area. SDCHM artifacts cover Chinese and Chinese American history, with a focus on Chinese Americans of the greater San Diego area.


  • 64 Mixed Archival Collections