Resources for Asian American Studies Research

Three Chinese children, Library of Congress.

About this Guide

Welcome to the research guide for Asian American Studies. This guide provides search tips and links to research resources for topics related to Asian American history and culture.

Use the tabs to navigate through the pages of the guide.

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Print Reference Books

Get some fast background information in reference books, located near the reference desk:

  • The Asian American Encyclopedia – R 973.0495 N576a
  • Encyclopedia of Asian-American Literature – R 810.9895 O36e
    Also available online here.
  • Asian American Writers – R 810.9 M996 V.312
  • Notable Asian Americans – R 920.009295 Z64n
  • Asian American literature: Reviews and Criticism of Works by American Writers of Asian Descent – R 810.9895 T866a Z64n
  • Voices of Multicultural America: Notable Speeches Delivered by African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans, 1790-1995 – R 815.082 S912v
  • Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Society – R 305.8 S294e
  • Gale Encyclopedia of Multicultural America – R 317.3 V413
    Also available online here.

Online Reference Books

To access these online sources from off campus, you will need to log in using your Pipeline username and password:

Reference Databases

These resources are available online and will require your Pipeline account information when you access them from off campus:

  • Credo Reference
    Contains the full text of nearly 600 encyclopedias, dictionaries, bilingual dictionaries, and other reference books.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
    Contains the full text of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources.

Book & Article Resources

Finding materials in the library and using the library online catalog can require you to use a variety of different words. The words you use to describe a topic may be different from the words used by the library catalog and databases. If you have trouble finding information on your topic, ask a librarian for help choosing the best keywords to use in your search. Or, try some of the search words listed below:

    Asian American* (searches Asian American and Asian Americans)
    Asian American children
    Asian American men
    Asian American women
    Asian American studies
    Asian American and culture
    Asian American and popular culture
    Asian American and social conditions
    Asian American and social history

Also try more specific search terms, like Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Korean Americans, etc.


Use the library catalog (books+) to find books about Asian American history and culture, in both print and eBook format. Your search results will include articles as well. Limit to books by choosing the appropriate box from the menu to the left of the results.


Use one of the following databases to find articles from periodicals (newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals) about Asian American history and culture. To access databases from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password:

  • Academic Search Complete
    A great starting point for research on any topic.
  • History Reference Center
    Covers all time periods of U.S. and World History. Provides full text from more than 1,620 reference books, encyclopedias and non-fiction books, and cover to cover full text for more than 150 leading history periodicals (magazines, newspapers, and scholarly journals). Includes primary source material such as historical documents, photos, and maps. Also includes biographies of historical figures, and more than 80 hours of historical video.

Primary Sources

Primary Sources are first-person accounts or direct evidence of the topics or events you are researching. They may include letters, diaries, photographs, autobiographies, records such as birth certificates or land deeds, treaties and other government documents, news footage and eyewitness articles, plays, movies, works of art, speeches, interviews, oral histories, memoirs, architectural plans, and many other kinds of artifacts.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources analyze, summarize, interpret, or comment on primary sources. They are usually created by someone who did not experience an event first hand. They may include biographies, scholarly journal articles, literary criticism, political analysis, news reports other than first-hand accounts, reference books, and textbooks.

What About Newspapers?

Some sources may be considered primary or secondary, depending on how you use them. For example, a 1969 newspaper article that discusses the moon landing that year could be considered a secondary source. But if you are interested in how NASA was portrayed by the media during the Cold War, the same article could be considered a primary source as an historical artifact. Watch Newspapers – Primary Source? for more information.

Primary Sources in Library Databases

Some of the library databases include primary source materials. To access these resources from off campus, you will need to log in with your Pipeline username and password:

  • History Reference Center
    When you search for your topic, use the ADVANCED SEARCH and select PUBLICATION TYPE = PRIMARY SOURCE DOCUMENTS. Or you can select the PRIMARY SOURCES tab found in the menu to the left of the list of results after your search.

Primary Sources on the Internet

You can also find primary sources materials through several free websites. Many of the sites listed under the Websites tab of this guide include primary sources on specific aspects of African American history, life, and culture. For primary sources related to Asian American history in general, try one of the following sites:


Figuring out whether the information you find online is credible enough for college research can be challenging. The P.R.O.V.E.N. Test for Evaluating Sources can help you determine whether the sources you find are credible.

Below are some recommendations of quality sites about Asian American history and culture:

General Heritage & Culture


  • Chinese Historical Society of Southern California
    “Collection documents artifacts excavated from two sites in Southern California. The first site is represented by about 1,040 color images of artifacts from the original Los Angeles Chinatown; an additional 150 images document artifacts from the site of a Chinese laundry in Santa Barbara. These two outstanding Chinese Historical Society of Los Angeles artifact collections are among the largest and best documented assemblage of cultural materials on Chinese settlement in the United States.”
  • Becoming American, The Chinese Experience
    Contains eyewitness accounts of the Chinese American experience with streaming options for the documentary.
  • Days of Infamy: December 7 and 9/11
    Information on the December 7th, 1941, assault on Pearl Harbor. Includes collected first-hand audio commentary recordings.
  • Japanese American Archivcal Collection (JAAC)
    ImageBase presents about 1400 images in a searchable database of selected photographs and images of artifacts related to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This award winning collection is housed in the Special Collections and University Archives of California State University, Sacramento.
  • “At Manzanar Fishing Was The Great Escape”
    Los Angeles Times article about Japanese Americans escaping interment at Manzanar War Relocation Center in California to go fishing.
  • Veterans History Project
    Contains veterans information categorized into race/ethnicity. Includes a digital collection with many primary sources and interviews.
  • “Hawaii Is Diverse, But Far From A Racial Paradise”
    NPR story covering the historical context of racism in Hawaii.


  • South East Asian Archive (SEAAdoc)
    An educational resource from the UC Irvine Libraries focusing on “post-1975 refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and the communities they have developed in the United States. It contains 1,500 visual images and 4,000 pages of searchable text selected from the Archive to represent a cross section of our holdings.”
  • About Angel Island Immigration Station
    Information about Angel Island Immigration station, an entry point for thousands of immigrants located in San Francisco’s North Bay.
  • Angel Island State Park
    “When it opened in 1910, the new detention facility on Angel Island was considered ideal because of its isolation. There were buildings to house and care for detainees, a pier, and regular boat service to the mainland. During the next 30 years, this was the point of entry for most of the approximately 175,000 Chinese immigrants who came to the United States. Most of them were detained on Angel Island for as little as two weeks or as much as six months.”
  • Asian American Data Links
    Information and data from the United States Census Bureau.
  • Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander Data Links
    Census facts about Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander populations.


  • Asian Americans Advancing Justice
    Information about the nation’s largest legal and civil rights organization for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.

Political Activity & Civil Society

  • Asian American LEAD
    “Founded in 1998, AALEAD’s mission is to promote the well-being of low-income and underserved Asian American youth through education, leadership, and community building.”
  • Manilatown Heritage Foundation
    “The mission of Manilatown Heritage Foundation is to promote social and economic justice for Filipinos in America by preserving our history, advocating for equal access, and advancing our arts and culture.”
  • UCLA Asian American Studies Center
    Educating the American public about the intellectual, cultural, and political diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander experience.
  • Model Minority Myth
    An overview of myths about Asian-Americans and the data that backs-up and rebuffs stereotypes.

Citation Guidelines

Below are some resources for creating citations for sources found on the internet and through library databases. More resources are available on the Citation Guides page.