Founding and History of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California
The Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSC) held its formation meeting on November 1975 and was incorporated as a non-profit the following year. CHSSC has since undertaken many efforts to support its goals of collecting, preserving, and sharing Chinese American history. Led by a diverse group of members, CHSSC has planned and implemented a wide slate of activities.
From the beginning, CHSSC organized monthly programs to share history, presenting scholars, community people, and film, not only in Chinatown, but also at area public libraries. CHSSC organized two national Chinese American history conferences. At yearly Golden Spike Awards dinners CHSSC has recognized Chinese Americans of achievement. Chinatown walking tours have introduced young and old to Chinese American history. CHSSC has contributed to the state social sciences curriculum, published a dozen books, and published a yearly Gum Saan Journal.
CHSSC members have visited many historic places in Mexico, Hawaii, and throughout the West, including Yosemite National Park, in a quest to learn about Chinese American history and record that history. For the 100thanniversary of the Chinese worker-built rail connection into Southern California, CHSSC placed a bronze marker at the Lang Station site. In 1979 they began the Southern California Oral History Project, conducting interviews of 165 community pioneers. CHSSC acquired and restored an 1888 cemetery shrine. CHSSC documented the stories of many from “the Greatest Generation” in a three-year World War II veterans project. Documentary films about the Chinatown and East Adams neighborhoods were completed.
To preserve and provide access to the CHSSC collections, housed at its Heritage Center, they created a library and archival facility, hired archivists, and produced online finding aids. Moreover, to support academic and family history research, CHSSC launched a project to digitize the vast Chinese immigration records at the National Archives.