MOCA Treasures on the Road: Houston Asian American Archive

Wed, Oct 21, 2020 @ 4:00pm - 5:00pm

The event is FREE but advance registration is required on ZOOM here or via ZOOM ID: 899 0619 2174. REGISTER EARLY to secure your spot! It will also be recorded for on-demand viewing on MOCA's Vimeo channel: vimeo.com/mocanyc by Friday, October 23.

The Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) collects, documents, and preserves the experiences of Asian and Asian Americans in Houston, aiming to develop a broader understanding of history through their lens, that continues to evolve towards the studies of Asia in a transnational perspective.

 

The mission is to explore the varied experiences of Asians and Asian Americans in the Houston community, and to understand both the challenges they have faced and the contributions they have made. We aim to capture all generations from all walks of life in order to create an inclusive portrayal of the Houston Asian and Asian American community. We intend this project to provide a documentary history linking these life stories to larger national, regional, and global narratives.

 

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Dear MOCA Friends,

 

As MOCA continues to rebuild from a devastating fire at its archives and the global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Museum remains committed to telling the untold stories in the making of America.

 

The near loss of MOCA's irreplaceable archives of 85,000+ artifacts that tell 200 years of Chinese American history is a stark reminder of how objects bring history to life and how quickly these stories may be lost. MOCA believes now more than ever that it must inspire individuals to preserve artifacts, share them with the public at-large, and provide an educational resource to supplement missing parts of U.S. history.

 

We are therefore thrilled to invite you to the second installment of MOCA's newest initiative called MOCA Treasures on the Road on Wednesday, October 21, at 4:00 P.M. EDT.

 

This new program series hosted by MOCA will feature distinct artifacts, antiques, and collectibles held by members of the MOCA community from around the world. Guests share their special items and the stories behind those items while engaged in conversation with an expert scholar or professional. The goal of the program series is to bring out the depth and vastness of the Chinese American narrative to the MOCA community. MOCA Treasures on the Road captures stories of celebration, hardship, family travels, immigration, discrimination, diaspora, survival, success, and so much more.

 

We are honored to present our speaker Anne Shen Chao, PhD. from the Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA). Prof. Chao, is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Humanities at Rice University where she simultaneously manages the HAAA, a research and community outreach project created in 2009 to bring attention to the lives and experiences of Houston's Asian American communities. Since their inception, HAAA has grown to include a robust team which completed over 200 oral history interviews last year, and over the past several years, the HAAA received both the "Resilient Networks to Support Inclusive Digital Humanities" Jump-Start Grant and the Phi Beta Kappa Society Award for "Innovative Efforts to Build Community Connections through the Humanities.”

 

Prof. Anne will be in conversation with two guests and past HAAA interviewees: Linda Wu, former board member of the Houston Taipei Society and former president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, and Wea Lee, journalist and chairman of the Southern News Media Group.

 

The first featured objects will be from Linda Wu's family archives at the HAAA including ephemera and stories from her father Albert Gee's famous Poly-Asian Restaurant in Houston, Texas as well as her involvement with Miss Chinatown Houston Pageant. The Gee family were notable Chinese American restauranteurs who owned and operated several establishments in the Houston area. The second featured artifact will be archival issues of Wea Lee's Southern Chinese Daily News (1979 - ) at the HAAA. Mr. Lee will also discuss ephemera from his personal collection including the ITC Community Empowerment Organization formerly known as International Trade Center - Houston.

 

We look forward to your participation, and to sharing this and many more distinct artifacts, antiques, and collectibles held by members of the MOCA community.

 

With sincere gratitude,

Nancy Yao Maasbach, President, and the MOCA Team

 

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About the Artifacts

Credit: Albert Gee's Poly-Asian Restaurant. Courtesy of Linda Wu and the HAAA.

 

Credit: Miss Chinatown Houston Pageant. Courtesy of Linda Wu and the HAAA.

 

Credit: At left, Southern Chinese Daily News and its 40th Anniversary Special Edition. At right, Wea Lee unloaded 40 years of Southern Chinese Daily News to the HAAA. Courtesy of Wea Lee and the HAAA.

 

About the Speakers

Anne S. Chao received her M. A. and Ph.D. from Rice’s Department of History (2005 and 2009), under the direction of Prof. Richard J. Smith. Her research interests include using computational techniques to do network analysis, text-mining and archival research on historical figures in the late Qing, early Republican China, as well as in the immigration history of Asian Americans to the south. Dr. Chao has taught courses and mentored students in the Program in Poverty, Justice and Human Capabilities and in the Department of History. Currently she is Program Manager of the Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA), which focuses on the immigration experience of Asian Americans to Houston. Dr. Chao is a College Associate and a Divisional Advisor to undeclared humanities students at Lovett College. She is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, the Chao Center for Asian Studies, the Kinder Institute, the Shepherd School of Music, and a member of the Patron Group of the Moody Arts Center.

 

Linda Wu (née Linda Gale Gee) was born in 1947 to Albert and Jane Gee in Bellaire, Texas. She has a sister named Janita, who is four years older. Her father was the owner of the famous Poly-Asian Restaurant in Houston, Texas. After graduating from Bellaire High School, Mrs. Wu attended University of Texas at Austin, and graduated in 1969 with a degree in home economics. Upon graduation, she married Ted Wu, whose work took them to the Philippines and Hong Kong. When the couple moved back to San Antonio for Mr. Wu to attend law school, Linda worked as a fashion buyer for Joske's, a now defunct department store. She transferred to the Houston Joske's after her husband graduated and got a job offer in Houston. In 1981 when her first child, Ted Wu Jr., was two years old, she became a real estate broker. She had another child, Kristen Wu, in 1983.

 

Now retired, she remains active within Houston's Asian American community by serving on the board of the Dance of Asia America. She was also the president of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance (CACA) in 2011, a position both of her parents once held. She has been involved with the Miss Chinatown Houston Pageant for 30 years and was the immediate past chair.

 

Wea Hwa Lee was born in China's Yunnan Province in 1948. After the communist takeover of Mainland China, Mr. Lee's family first moved to Bunna and then to Taiwan (Republic of China) where Mr. Lee graduated from the National Chengchi University in 1969 with a degree in diplomacy. In 1971, Mr. Lee first came to the United States to attend school in San Francisco and then moved to Beaumont, Texas where he attended Lamar University and received a master's degree in political science. After working in the restaurant business, Mr. Lee decided to start a Chinese language newspaper in Houston while applying for permanent resident status in the United States.

 

After working briefly on the Southwest Chinese Journal, a community-oriented newspaper serving the Chinese American community in Houston, Mr. Lee started his own newspaper the Southern Chinese Daily News in 1979. Soon after, Mr. Lee started to expand his business into printing, banking, internet news media, and finally, digital television, becoming the founding Chainnani CEO of the Southern News Media Group, the mother organization of ITV International Television, Southern Chinese Daily Electronic Journal, Southern Technology Information Network, Houston Chinese Yellow Pages, USA Printing, the Southern News Publishing Co, and the not-for-profit International Trade Center of Houston; the Southwestern National Bank and Nevada National Bank are also affiliated organizations. Apart from the original Southern Chinese Daily News, Mr. Lee's Southern News Group also owns the Atlanta Chinese News, Boston Chinese News, Chicago Chinese Times, Dallas Chinese Times, Seattle Chinese News, Washington Chinese News, USAsia Today, and Austin Chinese News.

 

Mr. Lee is also very active in the community, serving as the President of the International Press Club of Houston, the Chainnan of the International Management District, as well as a board member of the Houston Urban League and the Harris County Hospital District. Mr. Lee also sponsors an annual International Festival in Houston. In 1989, Mr. Lee attended business management classes for executives at the Harvard School of Business.

 

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MOCA has not skipped a beat since its temporary closure in March. We've been converting our programs to online offerings and creating new digital content through multiple platforms, always free of charge—because history matters. We are facing tremendous financial losses due to COVID-19. We hope you'll consider making a gift to become part of a continuing lifeline for MOCA. No amount is too little and we greatly appreciate your generosity. Your contribution helps sustain our beloved institution and supports the creation of new, online programming that will bring comfort and inspiration to more communities.

 

This program is brought to you by MOCA friends and partners, including