San Francisco

United States

The Chinese Historical Society of America

Chinese Historical Society Of America

The Chinese Historical Society of America, conceived in San Francisco in the fall of 1962, was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization on January 5, 1963.

The Society is the first such Chinese American historical society in North America. Its first major publication, A History of the Chinese in California: A Syllabus has become a classic resource book used by students, historians, educators, and scholars in their research and writing about the Chinese in America.

To accommodate our expanding programs and exhibitions, CHSA opened the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum and Learning Center in the historic Julia Morgan Chinese YWCA building in November 2001.

Our principles:

* to establish, maintain, and operate a scientific, literary, and educational organization;
* to study, record, acquire, and preserve all suitable artifacts and such cultural items as manuscripts, books, and works of art or their facsimiles which have a bearing on the history of the Chinese living in the United States of America;
* to establish a headquarters to enable the display of such items as are acquired;
* to issue papers and publicity pertaining to the findings of the Society; and
* to promote the contributions that Chinese Americans living in this country have made to the United States of America.

Permanent Collection

Beginning in the 1600's with the early arrival of Chinese in North, Central, and South America, the main exhibition tells the history of the Chinese in the United States. The bilingual exhibition documents the first large wave of immigration that occurred during the 19th century, when more than 90% of Chinese immigrants came from the Pearl River Delta region in China. Photographs and artifacts focus on the contributions made by Chinese laborers in the development of the fishing, railroad, mining, and agriculture industries in the American West.


Alice Fong: A Retrospective showcases prints, paintings, sculpture, and fiber art spanning the thirty year career of this Sacramento-based artist and arts educator. With vivid color and familiar themes - such as nature, family, and Chinese American cultural tradition - Fong's art is accessible to all ages. Her work has been particularly sought by the UC Davis Health Care System, which commissioned pieces for its Children’s Hospital.

The work in Alice Fong: A Retrospective will be shown in two sessions: January 16 - March 31 and April 6 - September 15.

The exhibit Alice Fong: A Retrospective will be accompanied by a comprehensive exhibition catalog. The exhibit and catalog are generously supported by Grants for the Arts and private donors.

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with a grand exhibit on the history and culture of the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. Since 1958, the pageant has brought goodwill and tourism to the Chinatown community while the contestants have served as ambassadors of Chinese American heritage. CHSA's glorious exhibit includes archival photos, gowns, and interviews with Miss Chinatown queens, contestants, and pageant organizers.

Previous Exhibitions

Chop Suey on Wax: The Flower Drum Song Album 08/29/2006 - 12/17/2006
James Leong: Confronting My Roots 04/18/2006 - 08/20/2006
Earthquake: The Chinatown Story 04/04/2006 - 12/15/2006
Dragons, Drums, Firecrackers, and Floats: A Chinese American Tradition 01/17/2006 - 03/19/2006
Talk Story: An American Family 01/10/2006 - 04/09/2006
Pandering to Sinophobia 08/30/2005 - 01/15/2006
Remembering C.C. Wang 08/18/2005 - 12/19/2005
The Art of Win Ng: A Retrospective 04/13/2005 - 07/24/2005
Trading on Fear: Chinese Images in American Trade Cards 03/15/2005 - 08/12/2005
Mostly Mississippi: Chinese Restaurants of the South 02/01/2005 - 03/27/2005
CHSA New Acquisitions 12/28/2004 - 01/23/2005
Parade in the New Year 12/21/2004 - 02/27/2005
Martin Wong's Utopia: Tai Ping Tien Quo (A Peaceful and Heavenly Place) 12/20/2004 - 06/27/2004
Tseng Yuho: Crossing the Line 07/17/2004 - 12/19/2004
Leaders of the Band 06/26/2004 - 12/12/2004
Gary Woo. The Art of Gary Woo: Looking Back 50 Years 03/16/2004 - 05/30/2004
Mayling Soong & America 03/06/2004 - 04/29/2004


No Cost

Opening hours

Tuesday – Friday
Sunday – Monday 12–5 pm

Getting there

The Chinese Historical Society of America
965 Clay Street
San Francisco, CA 94108, USA

Museum internal and external photos (1)

Click on the images to enlarge


We are currently working in developing Teacher Resource Packets with historical Information, lesson plans, hands-on activities, reading lists and more, built around the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum's Main Exhibition. We will be partnering with KQED Asian Education Initiative and the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation to bring resources to teachers interested in using our materials and spaces to teach their students about Chinese American History, Immigration and other wider themes.

In the museum and the Wells Fargo Learning Center:

• Workshops, before and after, in the learning center to enrich the CHSA Museum experience related to the exhibition and rotating galleries.
• Docent tours by Chinatown historians.
• Chinese American storytelling
• Engaged learning activities to allow students navigate the museum themselves.
• Printed materials and online resources to prepare for your visit.

For your classroom:

• Compelling interactive classroom lectures and activities.
• Printed materials and suggested online resources to supplement your lesson plans.
• Teacher trainings on Chinese American history. (TBA)