Mission and History

The Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) is a research and community outreach project focusing on the lives and experiences of Houston's Asian and Asian American community. Created in 2009, and managed by the Chao Center for Asian Studies, the project is housed at the Woodson Research Center of the Fondren Library at Rice University. The Houston Asian American Archive collects, documents, and preserves the lived experiences of the Asian diaspora in Houston, aiming to develop a broader understanding of history through their lens, which continues to evolve towards the studies of Asia in a transnational perspective.


Our 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.

What do we do?

  • Conduct, collect, and, with permission, publish oral history interviews of the Houston Asian community, including a small but dedicated extra-regional collection
  • Preserve a collection of historically significant memorabilia and artifacts donated by individuals, businesses, or organizations
  • Provide students with internship opportunities with direct interview experiences, and support them with ongoing training
  • Use the archive as teaching materials for courses at Rice and elsewhere on Asian American history
  • Create exhibits of the collections in both digital and physical formats for broader dissemination of the information


The Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA) began at Rice in the summer of 2010. Starting with a small team of student interns who conducted a total of four interviews, it has grown into a robust team of eighteen interns with an accumulated sum of over two hundred interviews this year. My thanks go to the current and former interns who have contributed to this special edition of the journal. In alphabetical order, they are Chris Chan (‘13), Kelly Dong (’21), Taylor Ginter (’18), Steven Loyd (’17), Amber Lu (‘20), Scott Pett (Ph.D. candidate in English), and Juno Rettenmier (’19). They all persevered despite demanding travel schedules, heavy school workloads, and Houston’s inferno-like summer heat. During the last few years, the archive has gained structure, accountability and direction with the help of several remarkable and resourceful interns, and thanks are due to lead intern Priscilla Li (’20), as well as to Tian Tian He (‘20), Xingyi Li (‘20), Sara Davis (’18), Gennady Gorin (’18) and Patricia Wong (’16). Throughout the past nine years, Archivist Amanda Focke has generously given us her time and expertise in uploading interviews and cataloging the growing amount of donated materials, as well as hosting numerous community events for the different constituents of HAAA. Programmer Ying Jin has been working behind the scene to supervise the storage of data in Rice’s Dspace digital archive. Their involvement has been crucial to the project and is deeply appreciated. We are most grateful to the hundreds of interviewees who have opened their hearts to us and shared their remarkable and heroic stories. Without the support of the Chao Center of Asian Studies, the Woodson Research Center, and the Humanities Research Center, HAAA could not have grown as smoothly nor as quickly.