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Guide to the Frank Fat Collection, 1924-1999 (1960-1980)
MSS 2006/24  
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Collection Details
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  • Custodial History note
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note
  • Scope and Contents note
  • Processing Information note
  • Biographical/Historical note

  • Title: Frank Fat collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 2006/24
    Contributing Institution: California State University, Sacramento Special Collections & University Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 9.0 Linear feet (1 manuscript box, 3 record cartons, 3 photograph boxes, 3 slide boxes, 3 oversize boxes, 2 oversize folders, and 2 framed objects)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1960-1980
    Date (inclusive): 1924-1999
    Language of Materials note: English and Chinese.
    Abstract: Contains correspondence, photographs, realia, audio-visual materials and clippings documenting a prominent Sacramento Chinese-American family, its restaurant business, and community engagement.
    creator: Fat, Frank

    Custodial History note

    Documentation was accumulated by the Fat family and subsequently donated to the University Library in 2006.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition note

    Dontated to the CSUS University Library in 2006 by the Frank Fat family.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright is protected by the copyright law, Chapter 17 of the U.S. Code. Requests for permission to publish, quote, or reproduce from collections must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Permission for publication is given on the behalf of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Library, California State University, Sacramento as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Collection is open for research. Some restrictions may apply.

    Preferred Citation note

    [Identification of item including date], [Folder Title], MSS 2006/24, Frank Fat collection, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, The Library, California State University, Sacramento.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note

    Audio-visual materials require special access.

    Scope and Contents note

    The Frank Fat collection (1924-1999) consists of 9 linear feet of correspondence, clippings, awards, ephemera, photographs, slides and audio-visual materials. Created in bulk by Frank Fat, the collection documents the experience of a prominent Chinese-American, immigrant, restaurateur and Sacramento-area community leader, as well as the life of his family. The holdings will interest scholars of immigration studies, ethnic studies, Chinese-American history, Sacramento regional history and California politics.

    Processing Information note

    Manuscript materials and realia were sorted into Series. Photographs were maintained in original order.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Dong Sai Fat (adopted name, "Frank") was born on May 12, 1904 in Wu Lang Village, within the Tai Shan clan. In 1919, at age 16, Fat arrived in the United States via San Francisco’s Angel Island. On his initial stay, Fat worked at his uncle’s Hong King Lum restaurant at its “I” Street in Sacramento's Chinatown district. Throughout the 1920s he also worked odd jobs in salons, orchards, and the laundry businesses in the American Midwest.
    In 1924, Fat returned to China and married Yee Lai-Ching ("Mary Fat", 1908-1999) on December 18, 1924 by family arrangement. While in China, he spent time with a wealthy older cousin, Don Cho-Long, an activist in the Chinese Koumentang Party. Through his cousin Fat began to understand the power of money in politics. Mary Fat gave birth to Wing-Kai Fat in 1926, while Frank returned to the United States without family.
    After the 1929 Chicago stock market crash, and during the depression, Frank Fat continued to gain experience as a waiter in various restaurants. And by 1930 Frank Fat had returned to Sacramento to work with his uncle at Hong King Lum. Ten years after the birth of their first child, Lai-Ching and Wing-Kai were finally able to immigrate to Sacramento. Mary Fat would eventually give birth to five more children. In 1939 Frank purchases the Truckadero restaurant at 806 “L” Street and opens "Frank Fat's" Chinese restaurant. The restaurant becomes a success, hosting legislators, governors, lobbyists, and other politicians. Fat himself gradually becomes an influential figure in state politics and a lobbyist for Chinese-Americans.
    During and after the War, Mary Fat became involved in the Chinese Women’s association and the Chinese Benevolent Association. Frank befriended nuemerous legislators and judges, including then-Governor, Earl Warren.
    Frank Fat’s restaurant would eventually come to be known as the “third house of the legislature” where California politicians and lobbyists made deals and formed policy.
    During the 1960s, Fat continued to operate his business and began to be increasingly active in civic and community life, lobbying on behalf of Chinese-American interests. By the 1970s, Frank Fat had retired and Wing-Kai had assumed leadership for the family business. He oversaw its continued expansion-- including the founding of "China Camp," "Fat City," and two restaurant branches in San Diego.
    During the 1980s, Fat became director of the New Chinese Education Foundation. He also helped found the Chinese-American Council of Sacramento.
    Frank Fat died on April 5, 1997.
    Mary Fat died on August 29, 1999.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Fat, Frank
    Fat, Jerry
    Fat, Lina
    Fat, Mary
    Fat, Tom
    Fat, Wing K.
    Moffat, Mabel
    California--Politics and government.
    China--Emigration and immigration
    Chinese Americans
    Chinese restaurants