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Finding Aid to the Him Mark Lai Papers, 1778-[on-going] (bulk 1970-1995)
AAS ARC 2000/80  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Him Mark Lai Papers,
    Date: 1778-[on-going]
    Date (bulk): (bulk 1970-1995)
    Collection number: AAS ARC 2000/80
    Creator: Lai, H. Mark
    Extent: 130 Cartons, 61 Boxes, 7 Oversize Folders 199.4 linear feet
    Repository: University of California, Berkeley The Ethnic Studies Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-2360
    Abstract: The Him Mark Lai Papers are divided into four series: Research Files, Professional Activities, Writings, and Personal Papers. Lai's extensive research spans over four decades, with the bulk of materials dating from 1970 to 1995. Although Lai was born and raised in the United States, he is fluent in both English and Chinese and this bilingualism is evident in the materials contained in the collection. His commitment to documenting this history is reflected in the numerous biographies of Chinese and Chinese Americans, and in the materials on Chinese overseas, particularly within the United States, and their homeland relations. His research files include information relating to family associations, Chinese American organizations, Chinatowns, the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), and the history of China. Also represented in the collection are Lai's teaching files, materials gathered during his participation in various professional activities, his writings, biographical information, and personal miscellany. Lai's interest in Chinese newspapers is unparalleled: he subscribes to practically every Chinese newspaper available in the United States. This interest resulted in the inclusion of a significant number of newsclippings along with correspondence, interviews, manuscripts, drafts, monographs, journals, statistical data, photocopies of legal documents and FBI files, bylaws, minutes, organization records, historical documents, maps, slides, photographs and negatives.
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Ethnic Studies Library's online catalog
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Ethnic Studies Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the appropriate curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Ethnic Studies Library as owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Him Mark Lai Papers, AAS ARC 2000/80, The Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Acquisition Information

    The Him Mark Lai papers were given to the Ethnic Studies Library by Him Mark Lai in 1980. Additions were made in 1999 and on February 27, 2002.

    Biographical Information

    Him Mark Lai was born on November 1, 1925 into a San Francisco working class family. The family's Chinese surname was Mark, but it became Lai in America because his father had entered the country as the paper son of a merchant with the surname Lai. Him Mark Lai received an Associate of Arts degree from City College of San Francisco in 1945 and a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1947. He was a mechanical engineer at Bechtel Power Corporation from 1953 to 1984.
    Through the influence of his Chinese school teacher, Yuk Ow, who was considered by many to be one of the pioneers in scholarly research of Chinese American history, Lai learned to appreciate the importance of Chinese language sources in the study of Chinese American history. A member of the Chinese Historical Society since 1965, Lai has devoted much of his life to studying and writing about Chinese American history. At the end of 1967, he initiated a series of historical articles in East/West: the Chinese-American Journal. As of 2003, he has written 54 essays and books in English and Chinese and has contributed articles to four encyclopedias and other publications. His major publications include A History Reclaimed: An Annotated Bibliography of Chinese Language Materials on the Chinese of America (1986) and From Overseas Chinese to Chinese American: History of Development of Chinese American Society during the Twentieth Century (1992; in Chinese). He also edited Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island (1980). When he published his 13,000-word essay Chinese on the Continental U.S. in The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups in 1980, he was already nationally and internationally known for his expertise. A 10,000-word essay in the Encyclopedia of Chinese Overseas was published in 1998 by Singapore's Chinese Heritage Centre in English as well as in traditional and simplified Chinese characters.
    Because Lai is noted for his scholarship on Chinese American history, many organizations request his services as a consultant. Furthermore, he has been elected president and board member of many organizations. He was a consultant to one of the first television productions on Chinese American history, Gam Saan Hak: A History of Chinese in America (San Francisco Channel 4, 1972-1974), as well as to the Angel Island Film Project, which resulted in the film Carved in Silence (Felicia Lowe, 1981-1987). He was the president of the Chinese Historical Society of America in 1971, 1976, and 1977 and of the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco in 1982. From 1986 to the present, he has served on the editorial board of the journal Chinese America: History and Perspectives as well as on the editorial board of Amerasia Journal from 1979 to the present. He was also invited to teach Chinese American history courses at San Francisco State University (1969, 1972-75) and at the University of California at Berkeley (1978, 1979, 1984).
    Him Mark Lai served as a member of a library advisory committee to support the establishment of the former Asian American Studies Library at the University of California at Berkeley (1980-1982) and as consultant and curator for the Chinese American archives collection (1986-1988) in that library.
    Because of his outstanding work and tireless service to the Chinese community, Lai has received numerous service and lifetime achievement awards from various agencies, such as Chinese for Affirmative Action (mid-1970s), the Chinese Historical Society of America (1985, 1998), the Chinese Cultural Foundation of San Francisco (1987), and the Association for Asian American Studies (1990, 1993). He also received an award from the Guangdong Province Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs in the city of Guangzhou in China (2001) for his pioneering work with the "In Search of Roots" program. This innovative program is helping young people find their roots in their ancestral homeland.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Him Mark Lai Papers are divided into four series: Research Files, Professional Activities, Writings, and Personal Papers. Lai's extensive research spans over four decades, with the bulk of materials dating from 1970 to 1995. Although Lai was born and raised in the United States, he is fluent in both English and Chinese and this bilingualism is evident in the materials contained in the collection. His commitment to documenting this history is reflected in the numerous biographies of Chinese and Chinese Americans, and in the materials on Chinese overseas, particularly within the United States, and their homeland relations. His research files include information relating to family associations, Chinese American organizations, Chinatowns, the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party), and the history of China. Also represented in the collection are Lai's teaching files, materials gathered during his participation in various professional activities, his writings, biographical information, and personal miscellany. Lai's interest in Chinese newspapers is unparalleled: he subscribes to practically every Chinese newspaper available in the United States. This interest resulted in the inclusion of a significant number of newsclippings along with correspondence, interviews, manuscripts, drafts, monographs, journals, statistical data, photocopies of legal documents and FBI files, bylaws, minutes, organization records, historical documents, maps, slides, photographs and negatives.
    Him Mark Lai is acknowledged as "the dean of Chinese American Studies." In order to acquire a broad repertory of information, Lai traveled to many university libraries, historical and research institutions in the United States and frequently visited ancestral villages in China. He tried to gather as much data as possible from his numerous trips, conducting research and oral interviews. Lai's lifelong accumulation has resulted in these research files. The collection of files can actually be seen as an encyclopedia of Chinese American history, as it includes hundreds of topics and dated articles that span from 1778 to 2002. A great deal of Lai's research concentrates on internal developments in contemporary Chinese American communities, however his collection covers all aspects of the Chinese American experience. He was especially attentive in collecting materials from the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA), as well as records of regional, clan, and family organizations. Organizations such as the CCBA were closely connected to politics in China and in local U.S. communities. Therefore he became interested in political history and the history of dialects and regional groups. Another interest of Lai's was collecting biographies of China's Chinese and Chinese Americans. This fascination is well represented by over two thousand biographies in his collection. Some significant biographies contained in the collection are those of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Chiang Kai-shek, and Feng Yuxiang. Among the wide spectrum of occupations portrayed are those of architects, Ieoh Ming (I.M.) Pei and Tung Yen Lin; artists, Dong Kingmen and Zhang Daqian; athlete, Michelle Kwan; businessman, Tan Kah Kee; computer industry professionals, Charles Wong and JerryYang; educator, Chang-Lin Tien; filmmaker, Ang Lee; health professional, Henry D. Cheu; horticulturalist, Lue Gim Gong; law enforcer (detective), Henry Lee; musician, Yo-Yo Ma; photographer, Kem Lee; pilot, Yue Fong; and scientist, Yuan T. Lee. While conducting his research, Lai communicated with history experts and others in an effort to acquire more information on Chinese Americans.The collection includes correspondence with historians and researchers, as well as with historical societies and research institutions. Lai actively participates in many cultural, historical and community organizations. Among these organizations are the Chinese Culture Foundation (CCF) and the Chinese Historical Society of America (CHSA). He served as consultant for many projects and special events. From 1979 to 1980, he was a member of the advisory committee for the traveling exhibit "Chinese of America 1785-1980," co-wrote the exhibit's catalogue, and was the exhibit's curator during its runs in Shanghai (1985), Beijing (1986), and Hong Kong (1988). In 1980, Lai was appointed project director of "The Chinese American Experience: The Second National Conference on Chinese American Studies," a conference co-sponsored by CCF and CHSA. Having served as president of CHSA (1971, 1976, and 1977) and CCF (1982), he now serves on each organization's board of directors. Lai's participation in academic conferences began in 1975. He often presented papers and delivered speeches. He was invited to make the keynote address at the 1987 Honolulu Conference commemorating the bicentennial of the arrival of Chinese in Hawaii. In 1992 he became a member of the planning committee of "Luodi Shenggen: The Legal, Political, and Economic Status of Chinese in Diaspora," a conference held in San Francisco. Lai's wide range of professional activities are evident in the collection by the large number of materials relating to organizations, exhibitions, conferences and requests for consultation.
    In 1971, Lai was also involved as a coordinator of "Hon Sing: Chinese Community Hour," a weekly, hour-long Cantonese language radio program. The program ran for thirteen years and featured news, commentaries, community announcements, and Chinese music. Schedules, correspondence with listeners and newsclippings relating to the radio program are contained in the collection. In addition, filmmakers and television producers have approached Lai for his advice. Among the films were Gum Saan Haak: A History of the Chinese in America (KRON-TV, 1971-1974); Children's Television Project (The Association of Chinese Teachers and Chinese for Affirmative Action, Loni Ding, project director, 1977-1978); The Chinatown Files (Amy Chen, producer, 1988-2001); San Francisco Chinatown (KQED-TV, Felicia Lowe, producer, 1995); and Living Widows and Paper Sons (Multimedia Education Project, Jennie Lew, producer, 1994-2000). Lai's impressive knowledge has been tapped for a variety of other projects, including manuscript reviews and editorial consultations.
    Him Mark Lai taught classes principally on the history of Chinese in the United States for Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University (1969, 1972-1975) and the University of California at Berkeley (1978, 1979, 1984). His teaching experience is represented by correspondence, appointment forms, course materials, surveys, and lecture notes.
    Lai's collection brings together primary and specific materials that were used in his copious written works on Chinese American history, newspapers, organizations, politics, and Chinese language schools. One significant publication, A History Reclaimed: An Annotated Bibliography of Chinese Language Materials on the Chinese of America (1986), is reflected by typescript drafts, work sheets on Chinese resources, correspondence, and publicity newsclippings. Handwritten manuscripts and drafts represent another major published work, From Overseas Chinese to Chinese American: History of Development of Chinese American Society During the Twentieth Century (1992; in Chinese).
    His personal papers are comprised of biographical materials, resumes, awards and tributes, correspondence, wedding speeches, eulogies, newsclippings about Lai, family photographs, and miscellany.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Zhongguo guo min dang.
    Chinese Americans.
    Chinese--United States.
    Chinese Americans--Biography.
    Chinese--Biography.
    Chinese Americans--Social life and customs.
    Chinese Americans--History.
    Chinese Americans--Societies, etc.
    Discrimination in criminal justice administration.
    Chinese New Year.
    Chinese Americans--Politics and government.
    Ethnology--China.
    China--Emigration and immigration.
    Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.)
    China--Politics and government.
    China--History.
    Clippings.

    Related Collections

    Chinese American Citizens Alliance, 1922-1987. AAS ARC 2000/71
    Chinese American Democratic Youth League miscellany, 1940-1962. AAS ARC 2000/81
    Chinese Cemetery Association miscellany, 1955-1998. AAS ARC 2000/83
    Chinese directories collection, 1949-1976. AAS ARC 2000/84