Founded in 1985, Korean American Historical Society (KAHS) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the collective memory of Korean Americans through collecting, maintaining, and transmitting the heritage and achievements of Koreans living in the United States and abroad.
Our Goals include the following:
- Publish Occasional Papers, a journal of oral histories, community research, book reviews, critical essays, and reports. This journal is intended to present information and material for primary researchers as well as general readers.
- Conduct and archive oral history interviews on the history of Korean expatriates in general, and Korean Americans in particular.
- Maintain a library of books, photographs, and materials pertinent to the mission of KAHS.
- Organize and conduct seminars, symposia, and other necessary activities.
- Encourage the development of Korean American studies as an academic discipline.
- Coordinate activities with other Korean community organizations for historical purposes.
Korean American Historical Society’s collection is housed in the Governor Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center of the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.
- 1985, April 12 KAHS was founded.
- 1985, November, KAHS published volume 1 of Occasional Papers, entitled Journal of Korean American Historical Society, organized a panel discussion on teaching Korean language to Korean children born in the US, and initiated the Korean American Research Project, a program to collect oral histories of Korean Americans in Washington state for a book length pictorial essay. Shortly thereafter, publication of Occasional Papers lapsed during this period due to the departure of the editor to Korea following the death of his wife.
- 1994, KAHS organized and sponsored Yoojin Chung’s P’ansori concert commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Korean immigration to the US along with a screening of the film, Seop’yeonjae (1993).
- 1996, KAHS published Occasional Papers, volume 2. KAHS advised the University of Washington’s Burke Museum regarding three Korean displays for its “Pacific Voices” exhibit. KAHS also organized and sponsored a booksigning for Robert Hyung-chan Kim’s book, Tosan Ahn Ch’ang-ho: a profile of a prophetic patriot, with Susan Ahn Cuddy as a guest speaker (1996). KAHS also conducted a survey of Korean Identity Development Society’s (KIDS) Korean culture camp participants, and sponsored its first student intern, Jean Kyung Rhee.
- 1997, KAHS published Occasional Papers, volume 3.
- 1998, KAHS co-sponsored the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, provided staff support to help edit The Deepest Love of My People: writings and memories of Chang Hei Lee, a memorial to a local community leader. Staff and volunteers completed advising the University of Washington’s Burke Museum regarding the Korean displays for “Pacific Voices,” advised regarding its Korean American exhibit, advised Northwest Folklife’s “With One Broad Voice” program, and The Shoreline Historical Museum regarding its “Fresh Voices of the Community: Korean American Youth” exhibit. KAHS staff also attended the Association for Asian American Studies conference and National Korean American Studies conference. KAHS received a collection of 284 books and periodicals from Arthur L. Gardner, author of The Koreans in Hawaii: an annotated bibliography (Honolulu: Social Science Research Institute, 1970) Hawaii series no. 2.
- 1998. In September 1998, KAHS launched its internet website. Staff and volunteers advised The Wing Luke Asian Museum regarding its Golden Roots Korean American exhibit, and advised Seattle Asian Art Museum regarding “A Visit to Grandfather’s House” exhibit which opened in October 1999.
- 1999. In January, KAHS organized a fundraiser featuring Korean American investigative journalist KW Lee and author Daisy Chun Rhodes, and supported by Korean American Professionals Society (KAPS). KAHS received its first grant from the Overseas Koreans Foundation. Staff made presentations on Korea and Korean American history at Roosevelt High School in March, and at Korean Community Counseling Center’s first annual Summer Youth Program in July. In November 1999 KAHS published Occasional Papers, volume 4 and held a at the University of Washington, which featured Dr. Sue Sohng and Dr. Ickwhan Choe as speakers (featured in volume 5).
- 2000, KAHS participated in the community advisory committee for Northwest Folklife’s production of “Han Madang, Korean American Communities in the Pacific Northwest.” In June 2000, a second grant from the Overseas Koreans Foundation was received for volume 5. In May 2001, KAHS received the Irwin D. Stoll book collection (55 vol.s).
- 2001, KAHS published Occasional Papers, volume 5.
- 2003, KAHS presented “The Centennial of Korean Immigration to America,” An exhibit of seventy-six select photos from collections in Hawai’i and the Pacific Northwest, from May 27 to June 30, 2003.
- 2007, KAHS cosponsored a lecture by Dr. Richard S. Kim (UC Davis), entitled “Diasporic Dilemmas: Korean Immigrant Nationalism and Transnational State-Making, 1903-1945”, on April 12. His lecture addressed the multiple and contradictory efforts by Koreans in the United States to liberate their homeland from Japanese colonialism.
- 2009, KAHS co-sponsored a lecture by Dr. Kimberly L. Phillips, entitled “Will the Battlefield Kill Jim Crow?: Black Freedom Struggles in the Korean War Epoch”, on February 25. To commemorate Black History Month and Wing Luke Asian Museum’s exhibit, “Still Present Pasts: Korean Americans and the ‘Forgotten War.'” The lecture addressed the tensions and contradictions of nonviolent struggles for freedom and racial justice and African Americans’ participation in U.S. military campaigns in Asia. On April 2, KAHS co-sponsored a lecture by Dr. Suhi Choi, “Western Journalists’ Acts of Witnessing the Korean War.” She discussed the images and words that western journalists had used to communicate the Korean War to the American public in the 1950’s and the implications of their accounts for US collective memories of the Korean War. On May 7, KAHS formed a partnership with The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience so that KAHS’ collections would have a more permanent and publicly accessible home. KAHS also presented a talk by Dr. Sung-Hee Jeon, entitled “War Memories and Memory War: Wanso Pak’s Half-century Quest for Truth of the Korean War.”
- 2010, KAHS began work on “Korean Americans in the Pacific Northwest,” a four-year study and publication. Grants of $3,000 were received from the Overseas Koreans Foundation in years one and two of the study.
- 2011, KAHS partnered with Green Shoots and Zenith Diversity under a 4Culture grant to produce the Korean Cultural Room at the Shoreline Arts Festival, June 25 and 26. Visitors learned about local Korean-Americans, made masks, saw Korean traditional clothing, participated in a Korean percussion music workshop, tasted Korean rice cakes, and enjoyed a traditional music performance by Mansung Pungmul Group. KAHS volunteers gave a total of four public workshops on making Jangseung (Korean Focus NW Children’s Day in May; Shoreline Arts Festival in June (two events); and at the Wing Luke Museum in October).
- 2012, KAHS partnered with Seattle Children’s Theater to provide a display of pottery and Korean American history during SCT’s run of “A Single Shard,” February-March. In May, KAHS coordinated the purchase and donation of seventeen percussion instruments to Edmonds School District, via a $5,000 grant from the Korean Culture and Information Service. KAHS and United Seattle Korean School co-hosted the “Explore Korea!” culture and arts room at the Shoreline Arts Festival, June 23-24. Visitors saw a Korean American history timeline, masks and other artifacts and folk paintings. Korean rice cakes and traditional sweetened beverages were served. Visitors also enjoyed calligraphy demonstrations, a tea ceremony by Asia Pacific Cultural Center, and percussion performances by Morning Star Korean Cultural Center. They participated in paper lantern folding, jaegi and jangseung making, and p’ungmul workshops.
- 2013, KAHS and United Seattle Korean School co-hosted “Where’s Gangnam?” Korean arts and culture room at the Shoreline Arts Festival, June 29-30. In addition to Korean arts and culture displays, paper folding workshops, and music instrument displays, Musical performances included a K-POP variety hour, a demonstration by Master Cho’s Taekwondo, and a performance by Stranger Genius Award recipients Eyvind Kang and Jessika Kenney, with guest performer Hyeonhee Park.
- 2014, KAHS and United Seattle Korean School co-hosted “Explore Korea!” Korean arts and culture room at the Shoreline Arts Festival, June 28 – 29. In addition to Korean arts and culture displays, paper folding workshops, and music instrument displays, the Seattle Go Center gave a workshop on the game of Baduk (Go). Musical performances included a K-POP variety hour, and a performance by Oolleemm Traditional Korean Performance group.
- 2015, KAHS published Han in the Upper Left: a brief history of Korean Americans in the Pacific Northwest (ISBN 978-1-63405-954-1). KAHS, United Seattle Korean School and Seattle-Washington State Korean Association co-hosted “Experience Korea!” Korean arts and culture room at the Shoreline Arts Festival, June 27 – 28. In addition to an art exhibit by the Korean American Artists Association of Washington state, and paintings by students of the United Seattle Korean School, paper folding workshops, and music instrument displays, Seattle Go center gave a workshop on the game of Baduk (Go). Performances included Oolleemm Traditional Korean Performance group and modern Korean folk songs by Raindrops Korean Choral group. KAHS and UW Libraries began a joint partnership to digitize their collection of the Seattle-Washington State Korean Association newsletter Hanin Hoebo, and Occasional Papers. Last but not least, KAHS’ website received an upgrade, courtesy of University of Washington student Susan Wolfgram!
About our Image
KAHS is proud to present Jogakbo on our website as a permanent part of our collection. This piece was created by local author-illustrator Julie Kim based on images from the KAHS collection, and donated to KAHS in 2020. Julie writes,
“Traditionally, a jogakbo (Korean patchwork wrapping cloth) was made from leftover scraps of fabric that’s sewn together to create a beautiful wrapping cloth. These wrapping cloths held whatever that was valuable or needed storage. It was a perfect motif.
From the scraps and mementos of our varied lives, we sew together a visual story that holds our collective experience as Korean Americans. This is what KAHS is essentially trying to do – to collect and preserve our little stories, which together tells a larger narrative of what it is to be Korean Americans.”
Julie Kim is a children’s book illustrator who lives in Seattle with her husband and two children. She is a graduate of Rhode Island School Design and has illustrated several books and magazines. More recently, she has made her debut as an author/ illustrator with her picture book Where’s Halmoni? The book humorously touches on the theme of being part of two different cultures and what it means to navigate their familiar, and yet unfamiliar, terrains. It is inspired by her own experience as a Korean American learning to embrace the Korean heritage she inherited and the American culture that has shaped her.
Jogakbo was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.