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Finding Aid for the Rose Hum Lee papers, 1940-1964
1002  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Rose Hum Lee papers
    Date (inclusive): 1940-1964
    Collection number: 1002
    Creator: Lee, Rose Hum.
    Extent: 3 boxes (1.5 lin. ft.)
    Abstract: Rose Hum Lee was the first woman and the first Chinese American to head an academic department of an American university when she was appointed in 1956 to chair the Sociology Department at Roosevelt University in Chicago. The bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence written by Rose Hum Lee to her daughter, Elaine Lee. These letters and other documents were collected by Elaine Lee, who kept her mother's letters to her, as well as copies of letters Rose Hum Lee wrote to others and then forwarded to Elaine. The rest of the collections is comprised of transcribed telephone conversations; research on the Chinese in the United States; published and unpublished materials; biographical materials; and related materials. Included in the collection are also the personal papers of Elaine Lee and Henry Evans pertaining to Rose Hum Lee. Materials in the collection are in English except for one item and some occasional markings on the margins of Lee's research data.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Henry Yu, 2003.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Rose Hum Lee papers (Collection Number 1002). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    Biography

    Rose Hum Lee (Lee was her married name) was born Hum Kim Mei on August 20, 1904 in Butte, Montana. She was the second eldest in a family of four girls and three boys. Her father, Hum Wah Long, emigrated from Guangdong, China in the 1870s. From California to Montana, he worked as a manual laborer and he eventually became a successful merchant and landowner in Butte. Lee's mother, Chiu Lin Fong, arrived in the United States in 1900 and met her husband for the first time when she stepped onto the port of Portland, Oregon.
    After graduating from high school and briefly attending a local college, Rose Hum Lee married Ku Young Lee, a China-born engineering student at the University of Pennsylvania. Under a 1907 US statute (later reinforced by the Cable Act of 1922), Lee lost her US citizenship when she married Ku Young Lee because he was an alien ineligible for US citizenship. Lee applied for and received the reinstatement of her US citizenship in 1939.
    The couple left for Canton, China in 1929. In Canton, Lee worked in different governmental agencies and American corporations, and when the Japanese started bombing Canton in 1938, Lee worked as a radio receptor and interpreter of Mikado's English-language broadcast. She also assisted with various war and refugee relief agencies and founded the Women's International Club of China. Lee was especially concerned with the welfare of children and became involved in Madame Chiang Kai-shek's "warphan" project to aid children orphaned by the war.
    In late December of 1938, Lee returned to the United States with her adopted daughter, Elaine Lee. Her husband stayed in China and they filed for divorce in 1943. Lee continued her earlier studies, and in 1942 received her BS in social work from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. She subsequently received her MA in 1943 and Ph.D. in sociology in 1947 from the University of Chicago. During this period, Lee supported herself by writing stories and articles for various periodicals and journals, and she lectured, throughout the United States, about China and the Chinese in America.
    Lee focused most of her research activities on the Chinese in America and urban sociology, and she had a strong interest in promoting inter-group race relations within her discipline. Conducting extensive research and documentation on China towns in America, especially in Tucson, Arizona, she became one of the leading cultural and sociological interpreters on the Chinese in America. In 1956, Chicago's Roosevelt University appointed Lee to become Chair of its Sociology Department, thus making her the first woman and the first Chinese American to head an academic department of an American university.
    In 1960, Lee moved to Phoenix, Arizona to be closer to her second husband. While there, she taught at Phoenix College and worked on various research projects concerning the welfare of Native Americans in Arizona. Lee passed away in Phoenix, Arizona on March 24, 1964.

    Scope and Content

    The bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence written by Rose Hum Lee to her daughter, Elaine Lee. These letters and other documents were collected by Elaine Lee, who kept her mother's letters to her, as well as copies of letters Rose Hum Lee wrote to others and then forwarded to Elaine.
    The rest of the collections is comprised of transcribed telephone conversations; research on the Chinese in the United States; published and unpublished materials; biographical materials; and related materials. Included in the collection are also the personal papers of Elaine Lee and Henry Evans pertaining to Rose Hum Lee. Materials in the collection are in English except for one item and some occasional markings on the margins of Lee's research data.
    Several items are photocopies inter-filed from Henry Yu's copies of Lee's materials, which he made in 1993. When this collection was acquired in August 2001, these items were missing and Elaine Lee had already passed away for 3 years.
    For more background on Rose Hum Lee, see Henry Yu, Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). Lee's letters and writings were also the subject of Katharine Ng's undergraduate history honors thesis, "Fear and Loathing of Chinatown: The 1950s and Rose Hum Lee's Desire for Assimilation," located at the information entered in other parts of the finding aid.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    • I. Correspondence is arranged chronologically by date. Few letters were written before 1958, so all letters are separated by year except for those written prior to 1958. Letters written before 1958 are grouped together and undated or incomplete correspondence are placed at the end.
    • II. Transcribed Telephone Conversations are telephone conversations between Rose Hum Lee and her husband Glenn Ginn from 1958 to 1959. The telephone conversations were transcribed by Rose Hum Lee.
    • III. Research on the Chinese in America contains newspaper and magazine articles on the Chinese in the United States. It also contains the dated and undated record of current events and news on the Chinese in the United States and maps, charts, lists, and field notes Rose Hum Lee produced. These are arranged into the following categories: Newspaper and Magazine Articles, Record of Current Events and News, 1959-1960, Record of Current Events and News, undated, and Maps, Chart, Lists, and Field Notes.
    • IV. Published Works includes Rose Hum Lee's published works, manuscripts, and reviews of her book, written from 1943 to 1960.
    • V. Manuscripts of Unpublished Works contains manuscripts of Rose Hum Lee's unpublished works.
    • VI. Personal and Biographical Materials contains materials about Rose Hum Lee including newspaper and magazine articles, bios and curriculum vitae, flyers, press releases, photos, awards, some personal items, documents of her financial assets, and her obituaries.
    • VII. Related Materials includes items that are organized into two categories: professional and personal. The professional items include forms and applications, correspondence, and other items. Personal items contain contact and mailing lists and other items pertaining to Glenn Ginn.
    • VIII. Additional Files are files related to Rose Hum Lee, collected by Elaine Lee and Henry Evans. In Elaine Lee's file, there are correspondence, Elaine's profile, and some Chinese practice writing books and storybooks. In Henry Evans' file, there are correspondence, outlines of Lee's manuscript, Lin Fong: Proxy Bride, and some Chinese bingo sheets.
    Abbreviations*
    • R. H. Lee –Rose Hum Lee
    • E. Lee –Elaine Lee
    • G. Ginn –Glenn Ginn
    • H. Evans –Henry Evans
    *Names that appeared in the container list three or more times were abbreviated.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Lee, Rose Hum, 1940-1964 –Archives
    Chinese Americans.
    Chinese Americans–Arizona–Tucson
    Chinese Americans–Political Activity
    Chinese Americans–Social Conditions