The Kem Lee photograph collection, 1927-1986, contains Lee's photographs and other materials in subject files relating to
his photojournalistic assignments and business advertisements for San Francisco Chinatown newspapers and includes photographs
of the Miss Chinatown USA Pageant, community organizations, political activities, as well as formal studio portraits. Formats
consist of photographs, contact sheets, transparencies, negatives, slides, 16mm reels, newspaper clippings, and materials
related to the photographs. The collection also contains Kem Lee's personal self-portraits; photographs with his wife, Nanying
Stella Wong (Stella Wong Lee); his family and friends; biographical materials; correspondence; and poetry. Kem Lee Studio
business correspondence and records, layouts for advertising, reference materials for assignments, newspaper clippings, and
miscellany are also included in the collection. There are a few photographs of documents that date from 1909 to 1920.
Kem K. Lee was born on October 1, 1910 in the Taishan District, Guangdong Province of China. In 1928, he arrived in the United
States and later opened one of the first photography studios in San Francisco's Chinatown. Lee worked both as a studio photographer
and photojournalist, documenting community and organization events, including serving as the official photographer of the
Miss Chinatown USA Pageant. He married poet-artist Nanying Stella Wong. When he retired from professional photography in 1978,
he concentrated on writing and publishing his poetry in various local Chinese language newspapers. Kem Lee passed away on
October 2, 1986. He was also known as Lee Siu Yum, Lee Kim Kin, and Thomas K. Lee.
Number of containers: 3 cartons, 154 boxes, 15 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder
Linear feet: 73.75
Copyright has not been assigned to the Ethnic Studies Library. All requests for permission to publish or reproduce must be
submitted in writing to the appropriate curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Ethnic Studies Library
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader. Copyright restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use
of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.
Collection is open for research.