Judy Yung papers open for research

May 26, 2022
Emma Frothingham
Judy Yung

The Judy Yung papers (M2788) are now open for research. The collection documents Yung’s roots in San Francisco’s Chinatown, her advocacy and research on the Angel Island Immigration Station, and her dedication to promoting the voices of Chinese American women. The collection can be accessed through Searchworks and a finding aid can be viewed through the Online Archive of California.

Judy Yung (1946-2020) was a historian of Chinese American history working in the Bay Area. Her first job was as a librarian at the Chinatown Branch of the San Francisco Public Library and the Oakland Public Library, where she helped build up the first Asian American branch library in the United States. Collaborating with Him Mark Lai and Genny Lim, Yung published Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 (Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco, 1980) to preserve the Chinese poems carved into the walls of the Angel Island Immigration Station by former detainees. Yung’s connection to Angel Island was a personal one, as her father had been detained on the island in 1921. After working on the Angel Island project and a project on the history of Chinese American women, Yung turned to academia. She completed her PhD in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley and taught courses in American Studies at UC Santa Cruz from 1990 to 2004.

As part of the Island project, Yung began collecting oral histories and continued doing so as part of her other research projects on the Chinese American experience. The collection includes over 400 oral history recordings, primarily of Chinese American women, along with accompanying transcripts, translations, and background research. In addition to the oral histories, Yung’s extensive files on the history of immigration through Angel Island and the experience of Chinese Americans in the twentieth century provide insight into her research process for her books and the lives of Chinese Americans. 

In addition to Yung’s papers, be sure to check out her books at Stanford Libraries: