Robert Nash was a PhD student at the University of California, Los Angeles researching on Chinese fisheries and related industries
in the 19th century. Soon after his dissertation was completed in 1973, Nash died and left his papers to CHSSC. His incredible
organization, and fastidious research make this a rich collection on fisheries, canneries, abalone, shrimp, squids, junks,
and sampans. This collection includes Nash's notes, letters, artifacts, photographs, oral histories, drawings, clippings,
photocopies, and publications on Chinese American maritime activities, the execution and evolution of Chinese commercial fishing
activities, and general Chinese American history in California.
Robert Nash was instrumental in starting the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California (CHSSC) in 1975. He was born
in Bellefontaine, Ohio in 1915. During the 1950s to the early 1960s he conducted fieldwork for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
in Italy, Turkey, Portugal and Greece. It appears that education was very important to Dr. Nash.
Beginning in the early 1960s, he attended Pasadena City College and went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts and Masters of
Arts degrees from California State University at Los Angeles. He earned his doctorate from the Geography Department at UCLA
in 1971. His dissertation, The Chinese Shrimp Fishery in California, is a seminal work in Chinese American history and geography.
According to Dr. Nash, “The major objective of the research . . . is a contribution to the history of this ethnic minority’s
participation in the development of the State that has heretofore been slighted.”
Robert A. Nash spent many years methodically detailing and writing about Chinese fishing activities and watercraft. Especially,
California built Chinese junks and sampans. Dr. Nash passed away in Sierra Madre in 1976. Afterwards, his notes, letters,
artifacts, photographs, oral histories, drawings and publications were donated to CHSSC.