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Wong (H. K.) oral history collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Preferred Citation
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: H. K. Wong Oral History Collection
    Creator: Wong, H.K. (Henry Kwok)
    Identifier/Call Number: M2021
    Identifier/Call Number: 19155
    Physical Description: 1 Linear Feet (one carton: 6 open reel audiotapes, 58 audiocassettes)
    Date (inclusive): 1966-1983, bulk 1975-1980
    Abstract: Collection of oral histories about the history of Chinese immigrants in the American West conducted by H. K. Wong, as well as recordings of radio programs interviewing Wong and others.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research. Material from this collection has been digitized and is available in the Special Collections reading room.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Wesley Wong; 2014. Accession MSS 2014-057.

    Biographical / Historical

    Henry Kwock Wong (born April 29, 1907 in Portsmouth Square, San Francisco, died January 13, 1985 in San Francisco), better known as H.K. Wong, was heavily involved in Chinatown's business and civic associations. Between 1957 and 1984 he worked for associations such as the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (known as the "Six Companies") and Chinese Chamber of Commerce. He was a journalist for many publications such as Chinese Digest, Chinese World, East West, and Asian Week. He was also a businessman: he owned several businesses including Ti-Sun Company Hardware & Furniture store, and the Polk Pacific Building Supply Company, and was a co-owner of the Empress of China restaurant. Most importantly he was a founding member and enthusiastic supporter of the Chinese Historical Society of America in 1963. Wong had a long standing interest Chinese American history: along with friend William Hoy, he wandered through gold mining sites of the late 19th century, abandoned Chinatowns, and old Chinese temples, often collecting artifacts that served as the foundation of the CHSA Museum's collection. His great passion was doing oral interviews, something that was hardly done prior to the 1960s. He collected some of his favorite interviews in Gum Sahn Yun (Gold Mountain Men), published posthumously in 1987. Wong's contributions certainly did not go unnoticed. In 1978 he received the Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service and the San Francisco Examiner named him one of the 101 most memorable San Franciscans for the 1887 to 1987 centennial year.
    --adapted from https://chsa.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Bulletin-Summer2013.pdf

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], H. K. Wong oral history collection (M2021). Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California.

    Scope and Contents

    Collection of oral histories about the history of Chinese immigrants in the American West, as well as recordings of radio programs interviewing Wong and others. The oral history interviews were conducted and recorded almost entirely by Wong himself while traveling around California and the West, ostensibly for the Chinese Historical Society. Much of the information was included in Wong's book Gum Sahn Yun / Gold Mountain Men (https://searchworks.stanford.edu/view/2292606). Participants were asked to discuss their families and experiences involving immigration, work, and education. Many interviews were recorded with the children of Chinese-American pioneer Ah Louis (who came to the United States in 1870) and chronicle in detail both Louis family and San Luis Obispo history. Two members of the Louis family (George "Prince" Louis and Helen Wong Jean Louis) had careers as vaudeville musicians, and several recordings feature solo and group performances. Hugh Liang, another musician who was part of a touring vocal group known as the Chung Hwa Comedy Four, is also recorded both in interviews and playing music with George Louis. Other notable conversations are with Senator Hiram Fong and cinematographer James Wong Howe. Actor, art collector, and Chinatown emissary Ching Wah Lee is also on some of the radio programs.
    Interviews are mostly in English with some in Chinese (Cantonese and possibly other southern dialects) and some in a little of both. They are frequently introduced with dates and places by Wong. Recordings are interrupted by breaks, sometimes for several minutes. Tapes were also re-used, and some evidence of prior content is audible. There are also speed issues, probably due to battery depletion during recording.

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Chinese Americans -- History
    Lee, Ching Wah, 1901-1980
    Howe, James Wong
    Fong, Hiram, 1906-2004
    Louis, Ah, 1840-1936