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Peter SooHoo, Sr. papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Peter SooHoo, Sr. papers
    Inclusive Dates: 1883-2007
    Bulk Dates: 1923-1945
    Collection Number: mssSooHoo
    Collector: SooHoo, Peter Francis, Sr.
    Extent: 15 boxes and 4 oversize folders (8 linear feet)
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
    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 relates to Peter SooHoo, Sr.'s role in creating New Chinatown in Los Angeles, California, as well as his involvement with the Chinese American Citizens Alliance and other professional and community activities from 1883 through 2007.
    Language of Material: The material is in English and Chinese.

    Administrative Information


    The collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, please go to the following web site .
    Four fragile photographs have been removed from oversize folder 3. These photographs may not be viewed without prior approval from Preservation.

    Related Material

    The Los Angeles Public Libraryhosts some digitized photographs of items owned by Peter SooHoo, Jr. from the El Pueblo Monument Photo Collection .

    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

    [Identification of item] Peter SooHoo, Sr. papers. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of SooHoo Family Trust, January 2019 and April 2019.


    Peter Francis SooHoo, Sr. (1899-1945) was a Chinese American engineer born in Los Angeles, California. SooHoo graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in engineering in June 1923. In September 1925, he married Lillie Leung at the Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles; the couple had two children. SooHoo was employed by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where he worked in the Underground Engineering section from 1925 until his death from a cerebral hemorrhage in 1945.
    SooHoo's was active in the Los Angeles Chinese community and a member of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, Chinese Laundryowners Association of Southern California, China Society of Southern California, and the director of the Los Angeles Chinese Band. He was also the captain and commanding officer of the first company of the California State Guard composed entirely of Chinese members. He was affiliated with various Masonic chapters and was the first Chinese member of Al Malaikah Temple of the Shrine. As the unofficial "Mayor of Chinatown" and member of the Chinatown Project Association, SooHoo directed the design and financing of the New Chinatown on North Broadway in anticipation of the completion of Union Station in the late 1930s.

    Scope and Content

    The collection contains materials relating to Peter SooHoo, Sr.'s role in creating New Chinatown in Los Angeles, California, involvement with Chinese professional and community activities, and personal life from 1883 through 2007. The first series consists primarily of albums, blueprints, correspondence, ephemera, financial records, and photographs; this material relates to community activities and the construction and opening of New Chinatown in Los Angeles, California. Included is material related to Patricia Herman’s “Chinese Village Project” and Christine Sterling’s "China City,” two tourist destinations conceived in the 1930s. Also included are copies of two lengthy letters written in August 1937 by SooHoo to Los Angeles mayor Frank Shaw, where he explains the importance of New Chinatown. Material related to the Bandini Estate Company is also present because New Chinatown was located on Bandini Estate property. The albums include photographs and clippings related to the SooHoo's participation in various organizations and the Chinese American community in Los Angeles. The second series consists primarily of albums, correspondence, ephemera, and photographs related to SooHoo's family, education, personal investments, and work at LADWP. The bulk of the correspondence is from Peter SooHoo to Lillie SooHoo written from Fresno, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. about his activities. Included in the second series are clippings, statements, and sympathy letters related to SooHoo's death in 1945. The albums include photographs and clippings related to SooHoo's wedding, funeral, and ephemera collected by Peter and Lillie.
    Note: Although the albums are separated in two series, there may be a small amount of community or personal photographs within either series.


    Arranged in two series:
    • Series 1: New Chinatown and community, 1883-2007
    • Series 2: Personal, 1915-2002

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    SooHoo family
    Chiang, May-ling Soong, 1897-2003
    SooHoo, Peter Francis, Sr.

    Corporate Names

    Chinese American Citizens Alliance
    Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association
    Los Angeles (Calif.). Department of Water and Power


    Chinese Americans -- Societies, etc.
    Chinese Americans -- California -- Los Angeles
    Chinese Americans -- California -- Los Angeles -- Social life and customs

    Geographic Areas

    Chinatown (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Los Angeles (Calif.)


    Photograph albums
    Printed ephemera