Cover image for Dictionary of Asian American history
Dictionary of Asian American history
Kim, Hyung-chan.
Publication Information:
New York : Greenwood Press, 1986.
Physical Description:
xv, 627 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Reading Level:
1300 Lexile.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E184.O6 D53 1986 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



Filling an important gap in scholarship, this unique historical dictionary recounts the experience of immigrants from more than ten countries in East and Southeast Asia and assesses the cultural, social, economic, and political impact of these groups on United States history. A wealth of specific information on people, places, and events is contained in over one thousand entries, each including its own bibliography. Fourteen historical and sociological essays, written by outstanding Asian specialists, provide analyses of particular groups and issues and clarify the ethnohistorical concepts that are essential to an understanding of majority/minority relations in America. An extensive general bibliography on Asian-American history and a comprehensive chronology of events are additional features.

Author Notes

m /f Hyung-Chan /r ed.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This one-volume dictionary is unique in that it is the only work that offers a ready-reference source for historical information about Asian Americans. It consists of 15 essays on various relevant topics and more than 800 dictionary entries. The essays, written by specialists, range in length from 4 to 15 pages, some with bibliographic notes. The first seven consist of thumbnail histories of particular groups in the U.S.: Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Asian Indians, Filipinos, Pacific Islanders, and Southeast Asians. The other eight deal with aspects of the Asian-American experience including immigration law, justice, politics, economics, education, mental health, literature, and popular culture. These concise and clearly written essays offer a snapshot of the subjects covered. They would be a good introduction for the beginner or the uninformed. The main body of the book consists of more than 800 dictionary entries pertaining to all aspects of the history of Asian Americans in the U.S. The author describes the entries as the ``major events, persons, places, and concepts that have left indelible marks on the collective experience of Asian and Pacific Americans.'' Many of the entries are of a legal nature describing legislation, e.g., the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1892, as well as specific court actions, e.g., Ho Ah-Kow v. Matthew Menan about the Queue Ordinance of 1876 that required every male prisoner in San Francisco to have his hair cut to a uniform length of one inch. (Ho received $10,000 as compensation for the imposition of the ordinance.) Personal entries range from Anna May Wong, the film actress, to Jack London, who had many ideas about the supremacy of whites and negative attitudes toward the ``lesser races.'' There are historically fascinating entries, such as New York's Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance. In 1920, 30 percent of all Chinese in New York were engaged in laundry work. The alliance was organized to combat unfair levies on hand laundries. The entry Tongs is a capsule history of the Chinese organizations that began as mutual aid societies and later became known for extralegal activities and organized crime. The dictionary entries run from about four lines to as much as two pages, depending on the importance of the subject. Many entries have short bibliographies to suggest further reading. Asterisks within articles refer to main entries elsewhere. Appended to the main body of the book is a 13-page selective bibliography, a 24-page chronology, and four pages of 1980 census data. There is an index that repeats the alphabetical dictionary entries. However, it also includes references to other appearances. For example, there is a main entry for Syngman Rhee and that page is given, but 11 other pages are cited where his name appears. The main entry page number is in italics. Also, there is no main entry for Franklin Roosevelt, but there are 16 references in the index. This is an excellent one-volume dictionary that will be of use in any library where there are questions and concerns relating to Asian Americans. It is easy to use, easy to read, and carefully written. In a time when we see the repackaging of the same information over and over, it is refreshing to find a book that is a first. Thus it is highly recommended for high school, academic, and public libraries.

Choice Review

An informative and well-crafted volume with nearly 800 entries that review the key facts of Asian American and Pacific American history. The principal focus is the individual and organized experience of major Asian groups (e.g., Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Asian Indian, and Korean) whose combined population accounts for more than 90 percent of Asian Americans. Other entries include court cases, immigration laws, events, treaties, and terms. The entries are written in crisp prose, and often contain references to further reading. A supplement offers 15 thematic essays by scholars. The first seven deal with the historical development of Asian Pacific immigration, also discussed in The Harvard Encyclopedia of American Ethnic Groups (CH, Jan '81). The rest examine the place of Asians in the American social order. Appendixes include a chronology of Asian American history (1820 to 1985) and an extensive list of monographs excluding government documents. Asian Pacific immigrants make up half of those entering the US today. This work, the first in its field, will be an essential reference for academic and public libraries.-K.S. Kim, College of Staten Island, CUNY

Table of Contents

Chinese in the United StatesShih-shan Henry Tsai
Japanese in the United StatesS. Frank Miyamoto
Koreans in the United StatesHyung-Chan Kim
Asian Indians in the United StatesParmatma Saran
Filipinos in the United StatesH. Brett Melendy
Pacific Islanders in the United StatesLydia Kotchek
Southeast Asians in the United StatesGail P. Kelly
Asian Americans and American Immigration LawTricia Knoll
Asian Americans and American JusticeHungdah Chiu
Asian Americans and American PoliticsDon T. Nakanishi
Asian Americans and the American Economic OrderIllsoo Kim
Asian Americans and American EducationBob H. Suzuki
Asian Americans and Mental HealthHyung-chan Kim and Mark Petersen
Asian American LiteratureJesse Hiraoka
Asian Americans and American Popular CultureElaine Kim Dictionary
Chronology; 1980 Census Data