UC Berkeley library to present historic exhibit on the challenges, contributions of "Chinese Overseas"
24 October 2002
By Carol Hyman, Media Relations
Berkeley - Five of University of California, Berkeley's libraries
have combined resources to coordinate a large exhibit that
opens tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 25) of archival material about
Chinese people who migrated to the United States and other
"Chinese Overseas: Challenges and Contributions," at UC
Berkeley's Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, will contain items
from UC Berkeley's rich and rare collections including handwritten
autobiographical manuscripts and a photo of Margaret Chung,
the first Chinese-American woman physician; early 20th century
photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown; a profile of famous
architect I.M. Pei; and an account of Chinese entrepreneurs
in Silicon Valley.
dolls costumed to teach children to recognize clothing
with various localities.
The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between The
Bancroft Library, Center for Chinese Studies Library, East
Asian Library, Ethnic Studies Library and South/Southeast
The Ethnic Studies Library has contributed numerous items
to the exhibit. This library contains one of the most comprehensive
Asian American Studies collections in the United States,
including materials on the cultural, political and socio-economic
life of Asian Americans and the largest archival collection
on Chinese Americans in the world.
"These resources document and reveal the challenges and
the triumphs of Chinese overseas as well as their contributions
to their adopted and host countries and to their homeland,"
said Wei-Chi Poon, a librarian there. "These unique materials
have proven invaluable for the research and teaching needs
of faculty, students and scholars on the Berkeley campus
and beyond. They also tell fascinating stories."
Many personal items that belonged to Chinese Americans
such as Chung, who as a doctor was active in the war effort
on behalf of China and the United States during World War
II, will be on display.
Him Mark Lai, a UC alumnus, has devoted most of his life
to collecting, researching and writing about Chinese American
history and communities. An engineer by profession, but
known as "the dean of Chinese American studies," said Poon,
Lai donated to the campus 120 boxes of personal correspondence,
family genealogy, conference papers, research notes and
newspaper clippings. A portion of this collection will be
Items from The Bancroft Library archives include photographs
of San Francisco's Chinatown circa 1904-1910. The Center
for Chinese Studies Library has contributed, among other
items, "Red Guards in Silicon Valley," an account of success
in business by Chinese entrepreneurs.
from the 1992 conference sponsored by the Asian American
Studies Program at UC Berkeley that led to the founding
of the International Society for Studies of Chinese
A section of the exhibit, "The Prominent Chinese Overseas,"
highlights scholars, educators, artists and political leaders
who have made important contributions to American society
and the world. Items include the profile of Pei, who designed
such buildings as the Louvre in Paris, the East Wing of
the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the
John F. Kennedy Library in Boston.
The groundbreaking book, "The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of
a Girlhood Among Ghosts," by Maxine Hong Kingston, will
be displayed. A Chinese American writer and novelist of
national acclaim since the publication of this book in 1976,
Hong Kingston currently is a lecturer in the English Department
at UC Berkeley.
The Chinese have a long history of migration overseas,
and this exhibit brings together many elements that highlight
that movement. According to the Overseas Chinese Confederation,
in May 2000 there were 34 million Chinese residing in 140
countries around the world. Asia has the largest Chinese
overseas population (28 million). America is second (3.5
million), followed by Europe (1.5 million), Oceania (571
thousand), and Africa (137 thousand).
Chinese emigration began in the second half of the 19th
century, during the Han Tang dynasty. War, famine, poverty
and the hope of better conditions outside of China caused
great numbers of Chinese to leave their country in search
of work and business opportunities.
After World War II, the source and status of migrants changed.
Change in immigration policies, the normalization of relations
between China and the United States in 1979 and the return
of Hong Kong to China in 1997 has led to a new wave of émigrés
- those who want to study abroad and those who want adventure.
In 2000, the Ministry of Education in China reported there
were 320,000 Chinese studying abroad, and two-thirds of
them continue to live and to work in their host countries
after their studies are completed. Many business and professional
people are seeking new challenges and new opportunities
in foreign countries. These new immigrants and their impact
on their adopted and host countries and homeland have resulted
in a large body of scholarly research.