California State University, Long Beach

Asian American History


Chinese immigrants came to California in significant numbers during the gold rush and in response to declining economic opportunities and discrimination, they also moved to coastal southern California. The CSULB oral history collection, simply by historic accident, acquired a few interviews with the children of those earlier immigrants as well as more recent arrivals. Most of these Chinese narrators are women. Japanese immigrants, who came to California after further immigration of Chinese workers was made illegal in 1882, settled in various parts of southern California. Initially many worked as urban and farm laborers but moved into other jobs as they learned of better opportunities. Some worked as sharecroppers or leased land to farm; some became wholesalers and retailers of fruit, vegetables and flowers grown by Japanese truck farmers while still others opened businesses. Those who emigrated from Wakayama province, in particular, became fishermen and many of their wives worked in the canneries. The Japanese immigrants who pursued urban-based occupations settled mainly in the area known as Little Tokyo, with smaller satellite communities in places like West Los Angeles and Gardena. The Japanese fishing village in Terminal Island developed differently than these other communities. Its uniqueness led CSULB students in the Asian American Studies program to interview some members of that community in the early 1970s. Because the community was physically isolated and anchored more in the San Pedro/Long Beach area than in the downtown Little Tokyo area, this series was incorporated into the Long Beach Area history collection. Another major series of Asian American oral histories in the Virtual Oral/Aural History Archive focuses on the history, culture and experience of one of the most recent waves of immigrants from Asia, the Southeast Asians. Because the Cambodians and Hmong settled in and around the Long Beach area, they became the focus of interviews by students at CSULB, particularly Cambodian students and Khmer speaking Asian Studies students. These interviews have been incorporated into different series in a single Southeast Asian Collection. While Asian American holdings in the CSULB Special Collections and Archive are incorporated in different collections, as described above, the interviews included in this Collection are limited to those independently collected by the South Bay Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. These narrators describe their experiences when they were ordered to leave the area during WWII and how the area became more suburbanized when they returned after the war.

Collections within Asian American History

  • This series is the result of a project created by members of the South Bay Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) to capture the stories of some of the older Japanese residents of the area and it has been ...

Recent Submissions

  • Nakai, Mitsuyo; Hanawa, Yukiko, interviewer (2019-10-08)
    INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - This second interview with Mitsuyo Nakai was recorded in Lake Elsinore and covers her marriage, the birth of her children, and life in Manzanar.
  • Nakai, Mitsuyo; Hanawa, Yukiko, interviewer (2019-10-06)
    INTERVIEW DESCRIPTION - The first of five interviews with Mitsuyo Nakai was conducted at Lake Elsinore, where she was still running her physical therapy practice.

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