Archives are collections of historical materials (documents, media, etc.) located at a repository or institution. For a list of recommended archives in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies, visit the Primary Sources page. Never used archives before? Don't worry! Contact a librarian for help and see the Society of American Archivists guide to Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research.
UC Berkeley Asian American Studies Collection
The Asian American Studies Collection at the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library has the largest holdings of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies related archives with over one hundred unique archival collections. Archives can be accessed on-site and is open to the public and campus community. The UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Library Asian American Archive Collections Summary provides a list of the titles and call numbers of all processed and available collections and finding aids are available on the Online Archive of California as well as the Ethnic Studies Library website. Some of the key collections include the Him Mark Lai Papers and Research Files, the Margaret Chung collection, the Save the International Hotel collection, Angel Island Oral History Project and much more. Contact the Asian American Studies Librarian Sine Hwang Jensen for more information.
The following list highlights brick and mortar institutions where archival materials are held. For a list of digital archives and collections, see the Digital Archives and Oral History Collections page.
Asian/Pacific American Archives Survey Project, New York University
The Asian/Pacific American Archives Survey Project was established in 2008 by the Asian/Pacific/American Institute and the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University. It was the first systematic attempt to map existing and potential Asian/Pacific American (A/PA) archival collections in the New York metropolitan area. The project seeks to address the underrepresentation of East Coast Asian America in historic scholarship and archives by surveying the collections of community-based organizations and individuals. From 2008 to 2011, the Project surveyed over 90 archival collections and helped transfer some of them into the Fales Library & Special Collections and the Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives at New York University.
For over 40 years, the RR/L has been an invaluable resource to generations of students, researchers, and community leaders and activists. It has long been recognized as one of the leading and focused special collections of printed Asian American and Pacific Islander materials in the United States. Its library collection contains over 5,000 books and monographs, along with rare and unique collections of popular and scholarly magazines, 'zines, journals, and ethnic community newspapers from across the nation.
Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, University of California, Davis
The Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies continues Carlos Bulosan’s legacy of uplifting the voices of the most marginalized in the Filipino community in the United States and the diaspora. This is being done through community-engaged research that broadly disseminates knowledge about Filipinos for the purpose of advancing our rights and welfare. Explore their archival collections through the Welga Archive. The mission of the Welga Archive, Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies (WA-BCFS) is to provide access to documentary and ephemera material regarding the Filipino and Filipino American experience. To ensure access of collections, WA-BCFS will digitize and make available applicable documents and photographs for academic purposes. A series of oral history interviews will be presented to supplement archival holdings.
California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, University of California, Santa Barbara
The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, also known as CEMA, is a division of the Special Research Collections Department of the University of California, Santa Barbara Library. CEMA is a permanent program that advances scholarship in ethnic studies through its varied collections of primary research materials. See a list of their Asian and Pacific American Collections.
These unique collections document the lives and activities of African Americans, Asian/Pacific Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans in California. The collections represent the cultural, artistic, ethnic, gender, and racial diversity that characterizes the state's population. Its materials are widely used not only by scholars but also in K-12 classrooms and museum exhibitions. Organizations and individuals have committed to establishing their personal papers and archival materials for preservation and to be made accessible for research and study.
Chinese American Historical Society, San Francisco, CA
The Chinese Historical Society of America Museum is the oldest organization in the country dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the social, cultural and political history and contributions of the Chinese in America.
The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is truly a community-based organization whose mission is “…to preserve, document, and present Filipino American history and to support scholarly research and artistic works which reflect that rich past…” The national office and archives is housed in Seattle, operating year-round to lend expertise and support to twenty-seven chapters across the United States.
Freedom Archives, San Francisco, CA
The Immigration History Research Center Archives (IHRCA, or IHRC Archives) is a renowned archives and library for the study of immigration, ethnicity, and race. We select sources documenting a broad range of immigrant and refugee experiences, and strive to connect history to today’s experiences. We work closely with our colleagues in theImmigration History Research Center, and we are part of the Migration and Social Services Collections in Archives & Special Collections (ASC) in the University of Minnesota Libraries.
Our collections' strengths are first and second generation immigrants and displaced persons who came to the USA from central, eastern, and southern Europe; the eastern Mediterranean (formerly called the “Near East” region of the Middle East and North Africa); and late-20th and early 21st century immigrants and refugees. Our collections vary from print to manuscript to born-digital. They include personal papers as well as organizational records of ethnic and immigrant-formed groups, and of social service providers.
The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives collection, University of Maryland, College Park
The Rita M. Cacas Filipino American Community Archives documents Filipino American communities in the Washington, D.C., metro area (including Maryland and Northern Virginia) and in the state of Maryland more broadly. The collection also documents significant historic events related to the transition of United States' occupation of the Philippines (1898-1946) to the country's independence, including Filipino military and government service under the United States in the two World Wars.
Southeast Asian Archive, University of California, Irvine
Since the end of the Vietnam Conflict in 1975 a large number of refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have come to the United States, and especially to California. In order to document their experiences in a new culture, the UC Irvine Libraries established the Southeast Asian Archive in 1987. The Archive's collection is broad and interdisciplinary in documenting the social, cultural, religious, political, and economic life of Americans of Southeast Asian origin. Strengths include materials relating to the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants in the United States, refugee camp and other experiences of the "boat people" and land refugees, and the development and progress of new ethnic communities. There is a special focus on materials pertaining to Southeast Asian Americans in Orange County and California.
Stanford University holds many collections of interest to scholars of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies. Use the link above to search the finding aids available at the Online Archive of California. Some of the key collections including the Philip Choy Papers, Judy Yung Papers, and the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project.
Archival collections are located across campus and it can be hard to know where to start! Feel free to consult with a subject librarian to help you locate and navigate archives on your topic.
To locate archives around the world, you can use ArchiveGrid (see link below) and use the databases listed below to identify archival collections both physical and online.
The Bancroft Library is one of the treasures of the campus, and one of the world's great libraries for the history of the American West and Mexico.
Some Bancroft materials are available online via Calisphere, which also includes primary sources from many other California libraries and museums. Bancroft also maintains additional digital resources.
Before you go:
Be prepared! Read secondary sources and know something about your topic.
In UC Library Search you can narrow your search to UC Berkeley special collections and archives. As you type your search, options to search different parts of the Library system appear. Narrowing your search this way is also possible in Advanced Search.
Materials must be requested using Aeon. You must have an Aeon account to request materials. It is recommended that you request your materials in advance of your visit and to submit your requests at least one week prior to your visit to Bancroft. For more information please visit the Aeon guide.
If the UC Library Search record mentions a finding aid (an index) to a manuscript collection, you should use it to help you find what you need in the collection. If the finding aid is online, there will be a link from the catalog record. Many of the finding aids that are not online are shelved near the Registration Desk at the Bancroft Library. You can also search for Bancroft finding aids in the Online Archive of California.
Before you go, plan your visit (and bring a quarter for a locker).
During your visit:
How to Get to the Bancroft Library
The Bancroft Library is on the second floor of Doe, on the east side (the side closest to the Campanile). See a floor plan of Doe Library 2nd floor (pdf).