Chinese Historical Society of America

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chinese Historical Society of America
A view of the Chinatown YWCA building at the corner of Joice and Clay in San Francisco's Chinatown. The building is a large brick structure.
Chinatown YWCA building, designed by Julia Morgan
Headquarters965 Clay Street
San Francisco

The Chinese Historical Society of America (simplified Chinese: 美国华人历史学会; traditional Chinese: 美國華人歷史學會; pinyin: Měiguó Huárén Lìshǐ Xuéhuì; Jyutping: Mei5gwok3 Waa4jan4 Lik6si2 Hok6wui6; abbreviated CHSA) is the oldest and largest archive and history center documenting the Chinese American experience in the United States. It is based in the Chinatown neighborhood of San Francisco, California.


Historical exhibit

The CHSA Museum features the set of twelve Gum Shan (金山) paintings by Jake Lee which were originally commissioned for a private dining room in Johnny Kan's eponymous restaurant, which opened in 1959.[1][2] The museum also has on permanent display the large mural One Hundred Years: History of the Chinese in America by James Leong, commissioned for the Ping Yuen Housing Project in the early 1950s.[3]


The CHSA was conceived in the fall of 1962 and incorporated on January 5, 1963, founded by Thomas W. Chinn, C.H. Kwock, Chingwah Lee, H.K. Wong, and Thomas W.S. Wu D.D.S.[4] The five challenged the accepted history that excluded the contribution of Chinese immigrants to building California and the West Coast.[5]

The first permanent headquarters for the CHSA were a small building on Adler Place, which also was used as a museum.[4]

Entrance, 965 Clay

Chinatown YWCA[edit]

In 1916, the first Chinatown YWCA branch was established in a former saloon at Stockton and Sacramento; the San Francisco YWCA passed a resolution in October 1929 to build a new facility on three adjacent lots bounded by Joice, Clay, and Powell.[4] Noted architect Julia Morgan was contracted to design the now-historic building, and after consultation with Chinese-Americans, included cultural elements from Chinese arts and crafts.[6] The building housed the Chinatown branch of the YWCA from 1932 until it was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake; the board of the YWCA decided to sell the building to the CHSA in 1996 with the help of Supervisor Tom Hsieh and Mayor Willie Brown.[4]

In November 2001 the CHSA relocated and opened the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and Learning Center in the Chinatown YWCA building. The National Trust for Historic Preservation awarded the CHSA its National Preservation Honor Award in 2004 for its work restoring and retrofitting the 1932 building, nicknamed the "Lantern on the Hill".[7] In 2005, CHSA received another award from the California Heritage Council for its restoration of the YWCA building .[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jake Lee Collection". Chinese Historical Society of America. 29 October 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  2. ^ Yeung, Bernice (10 February 2011). "Lost for Years, a Trove of Chinatown Art Is Tracked Down". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  3. ^ "one Hundred Years' History of the Chinese in America". Chinese Historical Society of America. October 29, 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Julia Morgan Legacy Project". Chinese Historical Society of America. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  5. ^ Choy, Philip P. (January–February 2005). "Thomas Wu: Man With a Mission" (PDF). Bulletin. Vol. 41 no. 1. Chinese Historical Society of America. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Images of Chinese YWCA, San Francisco, California, by Julia Morgan". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  7. ^ "National Trust for Historic Preservation Honors CHSA" (PDF). 40 (8). Chinese Historical Society of America. November–December 2004. Retrieved 12 April 2019.
  8. ^ "California Heritage Council Award Recognizes CHSA" (PDF). Bulletin. Vol. 41 no. 4. Chinese Historical Society of America. July–August 2005. Retrieved 13 April 2019.

External links[edit]