Stanford Libraries to acquire the Chinese American Citizens Alliance archive

Stanford, CA—The nation’s oldest Chinese civil rights organizations, the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (C.A.C.A), announced its Grand Lodge archives will be placed with Stanford Libraries. The announcement took place at C.A.C.A. headquarters on Stockton Street in San Francisco.

Established in San Francisco in 1895 as the Native Sons of the Golden State, the organization re-chartered in 1915 as the Chinese American Citizens Alliance and expanded beyond San Francisco and throughout the country with member established lodges (chapters). The C.A.C.A. remains a vital and engaged organization and has fought against racial discrimination, defended civil rights, opposed anti-immigration movements and countered efforts to marginalize Chinese American culture and heritage.

Composed of materials in both Chinese and English, the archives have tremendous research potential for scholars. Gordon H. Chang, the Olive H. Palmer Professor in the Humanities and Professor of American history at Stanford University, and co-director of the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America project, is one of the scholars who enthusiastically awaits the arrival of the archives.

"The C.A.C.A. archives are one of the richest collections of material related to Chinese American history and the organization is to be heartily congratulated and thanked for making its history available to scholars and to the public. It is an incredible and unrivaled mine of primary source material,” said Chang. 

The archives contain individual membership applications and records from the organization’s earliest days, materials rich in biographical information, as well as financial records, publications, and photographs. 

“The archive will become one of the most consulted resources in the writing of Chinese American history and has great relevance to the understanding of many other subject areas, such as western American history, immigration and family histories, and even business history,” notes Chang. “It may even help us understand the history of Chinese railroad workers, with the extraordinarily collection of biographical and family history it contains."

Once transferred to Stanford, the Library’s staff will organize and catalog the collection. The Chinese American Citizens Alliance archives will occupy a keystone place alongside other important archives documenting the Chinese American experience at Stanford Libraries, including the Alice Fong Yu Papers, the Shau Wing Chan Papers, the Emory Lee Papers, and the Wylie Wong-May’s Studio collection of photographs. 

The documents relating to C.A.C.A’s Chinese civil rights work will expand Stanford Libraries’ collection of archives documenting the history of civil rights movements in the United States, including the papers of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the Bob Fitch Photography Archive.

University Librarian Michael Keller noted that the Stanford University Library “is honored to be entrusted with the archives of this pioneering civil rights organization, which so richly represents the Chinese American community in California and the United States.”

The collection, once processed, will be held in the Libraries’ Special Collections, located on the second floor of the Cecil H. Green Library of Stanford University. 

 

By Gabrielle Karamepelas