Him Mark Lai, Dean of Chinese American History: A Scholars Intellectual Legacy at the University of California, Berkeley

By Shih, Virginia Jing-yi | Chinese America: History and Perspectives, Annual 2016 | Go to article overview

Him Mark Lai, Dean of Chinese American History: A Scholars Intellectual Legacy at the University of California, Berkeley


Shih, Virginia Jing-yi, Chinese America: History and Perspectives


Scholars, librarians, and other researchers have been collaborating for decades in collecting and creating research access to Chinese American materials. Such collections are now available in academic institutions, libraries, and other sites for public and private research. One example, the Him Mark Lai Collection at the University of California, Berkeley, is arguably the most comprehensive scholarly collection for Chinese American and Overseas Chinese studies in the country. (1) The aim of this preliminary article is threefold: to provide a general overview of what has been done to improve onsite and online access to the Him Mark Lai Collection; to highlight Lai's unparalleled newspaper collection and archival materials as primary sources for teaching and research in Chinese American Studies; and to examine how to best promote the usage of the Him Mark Lai Collection from an external librarian's perspective.

AN OVERVIEW OF HIM MARK LAI'S DISTINGUISHED CAREER

Him Mark Lai (November 1, 1925-May 21, 2009), often referred to as the "dean of Chinese American history" and recognized as a master archivist in Chinese American Studies, received his bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1947. (2) Throughout his time as a professional engineer at Bechtel Power Corporation (1953-84), he also carried out research in Chinese American Studies. Because he was bilingual, he was able to conduct his research using extensive primary and secondary materials related to Chinese American history. As a prolific historian, he published ten seminal books, in addition to several hundred articles and lectures that in their entirety were groundbreaking in terms of scholarship in Chinese American history. (3) No origin was too mundane or too arcane when it came to collecting sources, even including dumpsters, newsstands, shopping malls, and Chinatowns. Such sources were complemented by his search for unknown materials in historical societies, libraries, archives, and remote sites worldwide. After bringing back original primary sources, he shared his knowledge selflessly with other researchers in the field. His wife, Mrs. Laura Lai, a research assistant whom he married in 1953, wholeheartedly supported her husbands lifelong interest in Chinese American Studies. The depth and breadth of Lai's collections will prove to be an intellectual legacy with an enduring impact on current and future generations of Chinese American Studies scholars here and abroad.

THE HIM MARK LAI COLLECTION

The Him Mark Lai Collection was donated to the Ethnic Studies Library at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2002 and in 2010. Wei-Chi Poon, a former UC Berkeley Asian American Studies librarian, collaborated with a dedicated team of professional staff with both Chinese language and archival management expertise to help create lists of personal names, geographic names, and subject headings for the collection contents. The collection was evaluated and processed at a "folder level" in great detail by subject, format, and language for user convenience and public access. The Him Mark Lai Collection of materials in Chinese and English can be roughly divided into the following three categories: books and journals, newspapers and newspaper clippings, and archival materials.

Books and Journals (over 10,000 Volumes)

Lai's monographic collection covers a wide spectrum of subjects such as Asian American Studies, Chinese American Studies, Chinese ethnic minorities, Chinese culture, history and literature, Chinese dialects, the Guangdong Pearl River Delta, the Chinese diaspora, Chinatowns, Overseas Chinese worldwide, Chinese language education, Chinese American benevolent societies, Chinese American communities, Chinese newspapers publishing history, biographies of prominent Chinese and Chinese Americans, geography, and politics, among other topics.

In addition, Lai also assembled an impressive core collection of Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora studies including local history, biographical dictionaries, encyclopedias, yearbooks, ephemeral publications, special commemorative volumes of Chinese clan associations, Chinese school anniversaries, commencements, charity events, Overseas Chinese professional directories, Chinese communities directories, Overseas Chinese alumni directories, newsletters, and special issues of local Chinese associations related to Chinese culture, education, religion, fine arts, literature, and classical Chinese opera. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Him Mark Lai, Dean of Chinese American History: A Scholars Intellectual Legacy at the University of California, Berkeley
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.