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Asian Studies Guide

Facts about AAPI

Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month has been celebrated throughout May annually since 1992 when Congress expanded to a month-long celebration the observance of Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.

AAPI Heritage Month coincides with "two key milestones: the arrival of the nation’s first Japanese immigrants (May 7, 1843) and Chinese workers’ pivotal role in building the transcontinental railroad (completed May 10, 1869)." "In 2021, a presidential proclamation expanded this to include Native Hawaiians." (U.S. Census Bureau, 2023)

Below shows visualized AAPI Population by State (Social Explorer. Race 2021. Data Source: U.S. Census Bureau.).

AAPI Heritage Month (May 2023): Newer Acquisitions

AAPI Heritage Month (May 2023): Books

Asian Americans is "an umbrella term for immigrants who came from the Asian land mass and for the modern Americans who are descended from them." Though they "are not homogeneous ethnically, religiously, politically or culturally," " there is an impressive human reality behind the words." "One and a half million Asians left their homes and came to the USA for a new life" and brought their cultures to the United States (Kendall, 2010).


Kendall, J. (2010), "Asian American History and Culture: an Encyclopedia", Reference Reviews, Vol. 24 No. 8, pp. 16-17.

The books about Asian/Pacific American studies are selected to honor the heritage and cultures of Asian American and Pacific Islanders.

Ask any research librarian available for help through our Ask Us research service!

"Asian/Pacific encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific islands of Melanesia (New Guinea, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands), Micronesia (Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia) and Polynesia (New Zealand, Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, Midway Islands, Samoa, American Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, French Polynesia and Easter Island)."

"The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants."


Digital Archives, Streaming Media and More

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

The National Archives holds a wealth of material documenting the Asian and Pacific Islander experience, and it highlights these resources online, in programs, and through traditional and social media.

American artists of Asian heritage bring a combined legacy to their work, and varieties of Asian thought and spiritual practice have had a profound and lasting influence on a remarkable number of Western artists. Influence has been a two-way street between contemporary American art practice and Asian cultures, past and present.

This council selects the theme for the month and provides AAPI Heritage Month history, population data–like the image to the right–and other resources.

Celebrate the month with a collection of PBS video stories that explore the history, traditions and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

The Center for Asian American Media

The Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) Collection contains 63 films that speak to the Asian experience through the lens of history.” The collection contains "a diverse array of subjects from a variety of geographic locations" and “biographies that show a glimpse into the life of young Asian Americans who struggle with identity, adversity, and overcoming complex obstacles in order to achieve their goals, and even the smallest wins in life.”

Smithsonian Institution

Native Hawaiian filmmaker Conrad Lihilihi presents a four part historical Docu-series examinig the 1896 Hawaiian Language Ban from public education. This series approaches the subject culminating a rich and diverse panel of academics in language, history, and politics.

FORKLIFE traces the journeys of immigrant food traditions taking root in the United States, narrated by the D.C. chefs and cooks who carried them here.

In New York City's Chinatown, college student Regina Lee and other volunteers organized a neighborhood health fair to improve health literacy in their community.

Hiu Newcomb, a third generation Chinese American, is the co-owner and operator of Potomac Vegetable Farms in Vienna, Virginia. In this interview she discusses her family's origins in the United States and her start as an organic farmer in Virginia.

Library Collections

This series traces the story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, and cultural innovation. It is a timely look at the role that Asian Americans have played in defining who we are as a nation. During a time of war and social tumult, a young generation fights for equality in the fields, on campuses and in the culture, and claims a new identity: Asian Americans. The aftermath of the Vietnam War brings new immigrants and refugees.