• Kathy Chin Leong

Judy Yung: Pioneering Asian American scholar and writer


Judy Yung was a groundbreaking scholar devoted to telling the Chinese American story through writing books and teaching. In the 1970s when the Asian American movement was in full swing, information about Chinese in America was scant. Yung took it upon herself to research, chronicle, and interview Chinese living in the U.S. to document their journeys. The culmination of her oeuvre has resulted in more than a dozen awards for her advocacy and comprehensive work in unmining and piecing together Asian American history.


Yung’s definitive books include Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco, Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to the Present and more. With a PhD in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley, Yung mentored scores of students as a professor of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz from 1990 to 2004. The educator taught ethnic studies, Asian American studies, and oral history. Yung once said, “People contribute to diversity in different ways,” Yung observed. “For me, my contribution is to do research and add the voices of Chinese American women to the tableau of history.” She died in 2020 at the age of 74.

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