Guide to the Genny Lim Papers CEMA 34

University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
Santa Barbara, California, 93106-9010
(805) 893-8563

Title: Genny Lim Papers
Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 34
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 1.0 linear feet 2 document boxes
Date (inclusive): 1982-1997

Conditions Governing Access note

Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use note

Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

Custodial History note

Donated by Genny Lim, March 20, 1995

Preferred Citation note

Genny Lim Papers, CEMA 34, Department of Special Collections, University Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

Processing Information note

Alexander Hauschild, 2007.

Scope Note

The Genny Lim Papers are primarily arranged according to subject matter and date. SERIES I: Personal and Biographical, contains published interviews that have been arranged chronologically, press reviews for Paper Angels that have been removed from their original binding but left according to their primary arrangement, and a photograph of the artist. SERIES II: Artist's Work has been divided into two sub-series: Literary Work and Audio Visual Work. The first sub-series contain two manuscripts that have been removed from their original bindings and a contact list for the 1982 cast of Paper Angels. The second sub-series includes a photograph and program from Paper Angels, a poster announcing La China Poblana (a multimedia performance written and performed by Lim), video of Paper Angels, five audiocassettes of the artist's music, and one compact disc of music.

Biographical Sketch

Born into a Chinese-American family in 1946, Genny Lim has lived most of her life in San Francisco, with the exception of four years in New York City. Her diverse education began in 1974 with a certificate in broadcast journalism from Columbia University. In 1977 she received her B.A. in creative writing (and minor in theater arts) from San Francisco State University, and in 1988, her M.A. in English.
Lim has worked extensively in broadcast journalism, as a writer, reporter, producer and commentator. While in New York, she worked for CBS News as a broadcast associate (1972-73). Since then, Lim’s work has expanded to include playwriting, poetry, music and teaching.
Growing up in the multicultural environment of San Francisco exposed Lim to many diverse issues and artistic styles. In addition, her family (in which she is the last of seven children) influenced her multifaceted interests. Living in Chinatown kept her rooted in Chinese culture, although her brothers and sisters introduced her to everything from Beatnik poetry to country and jazz music.
In the 1970's Lim's work began to focus on portraying Asian-American history and experience in the United States. Sparked by the discovery of historic calligraphic poems written by Chinese immigrants awaiting processing at the Angel Island immigrant detention center in San Francisco Bay, Lim and her fellow scholars published Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940. The publication was an inspiration for Lim to venture into playwriting and her most famous play, Paper Angels premiered in 1980 at the Asian American Theater Company. In 1982, the New Federal Theatre in New York produced the play. That same year, Lim founded her own production company, Paper Angels Productions, and brought the play to the Chinese Cultural Center in San Francisco. Paper Angels was later filmed and appeared on PBS's AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE in July of 1985.
Lim is known for her two streams of theatre work, which have followed two extreme modes of production. Various theatrical institutions have produced her traditional scripts, however, her experimental work has been developed and produced mostly by Lim herself. Paper Angels Productions has since evolved into Theatre XX (the female chromosome), a small production-oriented company devoted to new concepts and seeking alternative ways to approach theatre. Lim's additional works include plays, multimedia and interdisciplinary performances, poetry, prose and music.


Series I: Personal and Biographical

Box 1, Folder 1

Paper Angels script version for New Federal Theatre 1982

Box 1, Folder 2

Interview with Genny Lim 1982

Box 1, Folder 3

Her Story and History, Lydia Lowe 1983

Box 1, Folder 4

Re write, the Playwrights Foundation Newsletter 1989

Box 1, Folder 5

An Interview with Genny Lim by Nikki Louis 1989

Box 1, Folder 6

Koncepts Cultural Gallery, Inc. Konceptualizations. Oakland, CA:Koncepts 7 Cultural Gallery, Inc. v.8 no. 3 1992


Series II: Artist's Work


Literary Work


KCET production of Paper Angels final script 1985


Paper Angels for American Playhouse, 1985


Audio Visual Work


Publicity, Programs, and Photograph 1982



U-Matic VM0054/UM

Paper Angels, Departmental view copy

U-Matic VM0055/UM

Paper Angels, Departmental view copy

U-Matic VM0056/UM

Paper Angels, Departmental view copy

U-Matic VM0057/UM

Paper Angels, Departmental view copy

U-Matic VM0058/UM

Paper Angels, Departmental view copy

Cassette A4615/CS

Mob Ecstasy, KPFA Radio, 02/01/1993, Part One


Side A


1. Tongue-Tied


2. The Light


3. Changing Woman


4. Song of A-Li Mountain


Side B


4. Continued Ali Mountain


5. Winter Place


6. A Hip Invention


7. Only Language She Knows


8. Ark-chaeology


9. Two Little Hands

Cassette A4616/CS

Mob Ecstasy, KPFA Radio, 02/01/1993, Part Two


Side A


1. Interview Part II


2. Mary, Mary


3. Empty Street


4. Who Are You?


5. Wildness of Women


Side B


5. Continued Wildness of Women


6. Three Ships


7. Big Bang


8. Annunciation


9. Wonder Woman

Cassette A4617/CS

Mob Ecstasy, KPFA Radio, Genny Lim with Francis Wong and Herbie Lewis, 02/01/1993


Side A


1. Tonguetied


2. The Light


3. Changing Woman


4. Song of A-li Mountain


5. Winter Place


6. A Hip Invention


7. Only Language She Knows


8. Arkaeology


9. Two Little Hands


Side B


10. Mary, Mary


11. Empty Street


12. Who Are You?


13. Wildness of Women


14. Three Ships


15. Big Bang


16. Annunciation


17. Wonder Woman

Cassette A4618/CS

Sweet and Sour Shorts: KALW Broadcast, Genny Lim/Duc Nguyen, 01/20/1992 30 minutes

Cassette A4619/CS

Sense Us


Side A Only

CD A4645/CD

Compact Disc: Devotee, Genny Lim, Francis Wong, Glen Horiuchi and Elliot Humberto Kavee 1997


1. La Chine Africaine


2. Devotee


3. Echo


4. Lament


5. Moon Over the Ganges


6. Life on the Ganges


7. Diaspora Tale