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, aliens, 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.
These pages highlight selected areas of the museum's collection that relate to Asian Pacific American history.
- Clothes and Heritage: Chinese American Clothes from the Virginia Lee Mead Collection
- El Monte Sweatshop: Operation, Raid, and Legacy
- Japanese American Incarceration Era Collection
- Sushi Collection
- The Tokuno Gift
Events and Programming
The links below highlight past museum programming on Asian Pacific American history topics.
- Day of Remembrance
- Viral Histories: Stories of Racism, Resilience, and Resistance in Asian American Communities
- Heritage IRL: Ruby Ibarra
- Heritage IRL: Malaka Gharib and Angel Trazo
The links below offer resources relating to Asian Pacific American history for K-12 education.
- Becoming US is a new educational resource for high school teachers and students to learn immigration and migration history in a more accurate and inclusive way.
- National Youth Summit: Japanese American Incarceration in World War II explores the forcible removal of over 120,000 Japanese Americans from the Pacific Coast during World War II. In this webcast, the panelists explored this period in American history and considered how fear and prejudice can upset the delicate balance between the rights of citizens and the power of the state.
- Smithsonian Social Studies Online: How can the past inform our present and future? (Learning Lab)
- Smithsonian Social Studies Online: What happens when cultures collide? (Learning Lab)
- Smithsonian Social Studies Online: What is my community and how does it fit within the nation? (Learning Lab)
- Smithsonian Social Studies Online: What is our moral obligation during times of crisis? (Learning Lab)