Woman skateboarding on a street, passing a blurred crowd of people.

Asian Pacific American History

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders can trace their histories to a region that spans more than half the globe. They have played key roles in shaping America's past, leaving an enduring impact in areas such as work, politics, culture, and law. They have done so as immigrants, sojourners, settlers, refugees, citizens, non-citizens, residents, U.S. nationals, and members of overthrown sovereign kingdoms. Join us in exploring the rich and complex histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through NMAH's collections, exhibitions, archives, and scholarly research.

Photo above: Pro skater Judi Oyama skating downhill at the Capitola Classic, 1980. Photo by Richard Oyama. Learn more.

Page from comic book highlighting Asian Americans with words, Shaping the American Future
“Shaping the American Future” by G.B. Tran, from the e-comic “I Want the Wide American Earth” produced by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. The comic tells the Asian Pacific American story in graphic narrative, featuring work by seven exciting Asian Pacific American comic artists.


Support Asian Pacific American History

Join us in ensuring that the stories and artifacts of millions of Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are preserved for future generations. Your support of initiatives such as the Japanese American History Endowment will have a lasting impact on the museum and its millions of visitors of all backgrounds who will benefit from the extraordinary objects, vast research, and compelling programs presented. To learn more, contact the Office of External Affairs at 202-633-1841 or SupportNMAH@si.edu.


The links below offer resources relating to Asian Pacific American history for K-12 education.

Resource Guides

  • Archival Materials (PDF). This guide includes archival material related to Asian Pacific American history from the museum's Archives Center and other selected Smithsonian museums and affiliates.
  • Interviews and Oral Histories (PDF). The Smithsonian Institution is a repository for a wealth of oral histories that document the vibrant cultures and histories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
  • Food History (PDF). This guide from the museum's Food History Team assembles a wealth of resources which speak to and reflect the role of food in the migration, work, family, and community experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.
  • Additional Resources (PDF). This guide includes a wealth of additional Asian Pacific American history resources at the National Museum of American History and other Smithsonian museums and affiliates.