Skip to Main Content
Michigan State University

Asian American Studies Research Guide: Background Info


Background information about Asian American and Pacific Islander Studies at Michigan State University.

Asian Pacific American Studies Program at MSU

The Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Michigan State University is a relatively new program, starting in 2004.   For more information click here.  As of Summer 2017, Terese Guinsatao Monberg ( is the new director.

For information about the College of Social Science Asian Pacific American Studies minor, click here.


APASO, the Asian Pacific American Student Organization, was founded in 1982. Over the years, APASO has emerged as the collective political voice of the Asian Pacific American (APA) student community at Michigan State University. APASO is active in presenting programs and activities in social, cultural, academic and political areas

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month


Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is typically celebrated in May. However, MSU celebrates this heritage with different activities during April. During this month many ethnic groups with diverse backgrounds, histories, languages, and cultures celebrate and attempt to recognize cultural, linguistic, and ethnic diversity while celebrating common historical experiences in Asian Pacific American history. In addition, the Annual Asian Pacific American Studies Conference is held in April.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May): A collection of resources courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May): A collection of resources by the National Park Service.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (May): A collection of resources courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Asian Pacific American Heritage Month  (May): A collection of resources courtesy of InfoPlease.

What does Asian American Studies Cover?

What is an Asian American or Asian Pacific American? According to the Census Bureau, it is any American born in Asia or on a Pacific Island or descended from a person who was.  According to the Census Bureau, these were 17 different Asian race and ethnic categories used in the 2000 Census : Asian Indian; Bangladeshi; Cambodian; Chinese, except Taiwanese; Filipino; Hmong; Indonesian; Japanese; Korean; Laotian; Malaysian; Pakistani; Sri Lankan; Taiwanese; Thai; Vietnamese; Other Asian.

Asian Americans were among America's earliest settlers and have long been part of its history.  Large-scale Chinese immigration began with the Gold Rush in 1849.  For more than three decades, their labor contributed to the rapid economic development of the new nation.  between 1849-1880, over 200,000 Chinese entered America.  The gold they mined filled the Treasury, and without their muscle, the transcontinental railroad that tied the country together and created a national economy would have been delayed for years.  They tilled the soil and fed the settlers streatming West.  However, when the economy faltered, the Chinese, despite being pioneer settlers, became victims of prejudice and persecution.  They became the focus of an "anti-coolie movement", comprising white unionists.  Immigration measures were passed in 1882 to prevent further migration from China.  For more information, consult Ellis Cashmore's Dictionary of Race and Ethnic Relations.

For more information, visit Asian Americans by Jennifer C. Lee and Alexander Lu courtesy of Oxford Bibliographies Online.  Provides short overview as well as annotated readings on:

Asian Immigrants in the United States

Nearly 20 years ago, Congress established the month of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month to recognize two events: the arrival of first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843, and the contributions of Chinese immigrant laborers in the building of the transcontinental railroad, which was completed on May 10, 1869. In observance of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, we share the most recent facts and statistics about immigrants from Asia. As of 2009, there were more than 10.6 million Asian immigrants in the United States. Immigration from Asia has increased considerably since the 1965 US Immigration and Nationality Act, which removed national-origin quotas that favored European immigration. In 1960, the Asian born accounted for just 5 percent of the foreign-born population in the United States, but by 2009, their share increased more than five-fold to account for nearly 28 percent of immigrants. Today, the Asian born are the country's second-largest immigrant population by world region of birth, behind those from Latin America. The top three countries of origin of Asian immigrants are the Philippines, India, and China, and California, New York, and Texas are home to nearly half of all Asian immigrants in the country (for more information on immigrants by state, please see the ACS/Census Data tool on the MPI Data Hub).

Cited document : Jeanne Batalova, Migration Policy Institute, Asian Immigrants in the United States, May 2011.

2013 Chinese New Year's Greeting

Subject Guide

Profile Photo
Erik Ponder
African Studies Librarian
MSU Libraries
366 W. Circle Dr. (E 224B)
East Lansing, MI 48824

Ask a Librarian