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Hong Yen Chang papers and addenda
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administration Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Hong Yen Chang papers and addenda
    Dates: 1879-2016
    Collection Number: mssChangpapers
    Creator: Chang, Hong Yen
    Extent: 7 boxes and 1 oversize folder
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens Manuscripts Department
    The Huntington Library
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Fax: (626) 449-5720
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: This collection consists of certificates, correspondence, ephemera, photographs, printed ephemera, and scrapbooks belonging to the Chang and Ah Tye family.
    Language of Material: The records are in English and Chinese.

    Administration Information


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to following web site .

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    Hong Yen Chang papers and addenda, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Lani Ah Tye Farkas, Doreen Ah Tye, and Rachelle Chong, May 2016 and February 2017.


    Hong Yen Chang, a Chinese national, came to the United States in the 1870s as a Chinese Educational Mission (CEM) student. He enrolled at Yale College (now Yale University) in 1879. In 1881, the Chinese government recalled all CEM students and Chang returned to China. Chang was one of the few CEM students who did not remain in China and with the financial support of his brother, returned to the United States to complete his education. Chang went to New York in 1883, managing to enter Columbia Law School without his Yale undergraduate degree. He obtained a law degree from Columbia Law School in 1886, graduating with high honors. Initially, Chang was prevented from being admitted to the New York bar due to his lack of U.S. citizenship. The Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law on May 6, 1882, effectively halted Chinese immigration for ten years and prohibited Chinese from becoming U.S. citizens. With help from a prominent New York judge, Chang campaigned for his license and successfully argued his case in front of New York Governor David Hill in April 1887. Chang was granted a certificate of citizenship in November 1887 and was admitted to the New York bar at Poughkeepsie in May 1888. After moving to California in 1890, Chang made a motion to practice in California by presenting his New York law license and his certificate of naturalization, but the California court denied his request based on the Chinese Exclusion Act. In fear of losing his naturalization, Chang did not appeal the decision and went on to have successful careers as a banker and diplomat. Chang served as First Secretary at the Chinese Legation in Washington, D.C. from March through November 1913 and was Chargé d'affaires from December 1913 through March 1914. In 1913, Yale conferred an undergraduate degree upon him with enrollment in the class of 1883. The California Supreme Court decided unanimously to give a posthumous law license to Chang in 2015. UC Davis School of Law was instrumental in getting the 1890 decision overturned.
    Hong Yen Chang (1859-1926) married California-born Charlotte Ah Tye (1875-1972) in San Francisco in 1897. They had two children: Ora Ivy (1898-1929) and Oliver Carrington (1900-1973).

    Scope and Content

    The Chang family papers primarily contain photographs and scrapbooks related to the Chang and Ah Tye family (pronounced "Ah Tie"). Photographs include family portraits and casual shots, such as Charlotte and Ora Chang posing in front of a home. The scrapbooks consist of photographs spanning from the early 1900s through mid-1900s. Events such as the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, conventions, trips, graduations, and campus life are captured. There are also professional papers concerning Chang's work as a diplomat and consul for the Republic of China (Box 2, 14 and Box 3, 4). In one cipher cable, the message reads "Chang Hong Yen appointed Consul at Vancouver. Please urge Chang to take office as soon as possible..." (Box 2, 14). Also found in the collection are clippings and excerpts related to a bitter dispute over the Kong Chow Temple in San Francisco, California. Constructed in 1854, Charlotte Chang's father, Yee Ah Tye, was given a plot of land for the temple by the city of San Francisco for his work as an interpreter. Charlotte Chang also appeared to have a close relationship with Soong Ching-ling, a leader of the 1911 revolution that established the Republic of China. In a letter dated March 14, 1917, Ching-ling writes, "A friend of ours, General Julian S. Carr expects to arrive in May at Frisco, & I am sending you a slight token of my love & gratitude for your kindness to me when I too was a perfect stranger to you" (Box 1, 13). Other items in the collection are newspaper clippings, printed matter related to Chang's posthumous appointment, Chinese calligraphy, and Ah Tye's family tree.
    Additional material was added in March 2017 and includes correspondence, legal documents, and printed matter. Please see the Container List, Box 7 for more details.
    Note: Some of the material in the collection were sources for Lani Ah Tye Farkas' book, Bury My Bones in America. If so, the page number from the book will be noted.


    Arranged alphabetically by genre.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Ah Tye family
    Chang family
    Chang, Hong Yen--Archives


    Chinese Americans--California--Archives
    Chinese Americans--Legal status, laws, etc.

    Geographic Areas

    California--History--19th century
    California--History--20th century


    Letters (correspondence)
    Printed ephemera
    Professional papers