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Asian American Resource Workshop records

Identifier: M210

Content Description

This collection documents all aspects of the Asian American Resource Workshop, from the founding of the organization and its administrative makeup, to the numerous programs and events covering civil rights, arts, and Asian American culture.

These materials include anti-violence efforts, the creation of Asian American curriculum and educational resources, and promotion of Asian American artistic and cultural exhibitions, festivals, and workshops. AARW projects documented include the SafetyNet Violence Prevention Project, the Civil Rights Capacity-Building Project, and the Sticky Rice Project (Uniting Asian Americans through Anti-racist Education). The collection also includes board meeting minutes, newsletters, calendars, grant applications, copies of the Asian Pacific American Directory, financial statements, budgets, programs, invitations, photographs, reports, documentaries produced by AARW, the Asian American Comic Book, and newspaper clippings. Also documented are programs and events related to Asian Pacific American Heritage Week and the Boston Asian American Film Festival. A more detailed description of the materials in this collection can be found under the individual series.


  • Creation: 1892-2015
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1979-2012

Conditions Governing Access

SafetyNet case files are restricted for 75 years, unless researchers have written permission from the Asian American Resource Workshop. The remainder of the collection is unrestricted.

Use Restrictions

Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the University Archivist.

Historical Note

Founded in 1977 by members of the Boston chapter of the Pacific Asian Coalition, and officially incorporated in 1979, the Asian American Resource Workshop (AARW) works to empower the Asian American community in Boston, offering services and programs to address the community’s needs and to promote Asian American culture.

During the early years of AARW’s existence, the organization focused primarily on providing educational and cultural resources and programming for the Boston Asian American community. In 1979, the AARW organized the first Boston exhibit of Asian American artists, which then turned into hosting a series of Asian American poetry, music and art coffeehouses. In 1981, AARW hosted a viewing of Hito Hata: Raise the Banner, the first feature film directed, produced, and acted by Asian Americans, and the next year the organization began its sponsorship of the Boston Asian American Film Festival, now the largest Asian Film Festival in New England.

In 1983, AARW began broadening the scope of its mission to include social justice issues in the Asian American community, particularly relating to violence against Asian Americans. “Asians for Justice” was organized to support justice for Vincent Chin, a Chinese American beaten to death by two autoworkers in Detroit. In 1985, AARW worked with the Boston Asian American community in support of Long Guang Huang, a victim of police brutality in Boston, and produced the video Long Road to Justice: The Case of Long Guang Huang. This focus on hate crime prevention led to the creation of the Civil Rights Capacity Building Project, which assessed the civil rights needs of Asian Americans in Boston and published a report entitled To Live In Peace: Responding to Anti-Asian Violence in Boston. In 1993, AARW initiated the SafetyNet Violence Prevention Project in order to help victims of anti-Asian violence.

Along with their civil rights and anti-violence work in the 1990’s, AARW also began to work on issues relating to urban renewal in Boston’s Chinatown. The group was involved in the creation of the Coalition to Protect Parcel C, a grassroots organization formed to combat the New England Medical Center’s proposal to build a multi-story parking garage in the densely populated Chinatown neighborhood. In 1993, with the support of AARW, the Chinese Progressive Association, and other local activists and groups, the Coalition successfully halted the building proposal.

2001 saw the creation of the Sticky Rice Project: Uniting Asian Americans through Anti-racist Education, a program continuing AARW’s commitment to fighting racism through education. The program offers a variety of workshops to diverse groups from across the nation, which speak to the unique struggle Asians and Asian Americans face in the United States. In 2009, a yearly Activist Fellowship was established, which trains, cultivates, and helps develop young Asian Pacific American leaders for careers in social justice work. This focus on youth community activism was expanded in 2012 with the creation of the Dorchester Organizing and Training Initiative (DOT-I), AARW's leadership development program. The program is aimed at developing young Asian American leaders in the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester with the long-term goal of building and supporting grassroots organizing in Asian American communities. In 2014 DOT-I played a major role in lobbying for the successful passage of House Bill 4089, “An Act Relative to the Preparation of Certain Bilingual Ballots in the City of Boston,” which guarantees the availability of bilingual Vietnamese and Chinese ballots in all Boston city elections.

The organization continues to focus on contemporary issues facing the Asian American community by promoting civic engagement in the Greater Boston area through a wide range of campaigns including housing justice and immigration and deportation. In 2017, AARW began the Story Project program as a way for Asian Americans to share the experiences of Asian American communities through their own lens. Also in 2017, AARW formed Lotux, a pan-Asian drag group. The group is comprised of queer, trans, and non-binary Asian/Pacific Islanders based in Boston and welcomes those at any level who are interested in drag and creates a space for using the performance and art of drag to connect with the community. By creating a space for all Asian Pacific Islander communities, AARW continues its mission of political education, creative expression, and neighborhood organizing.


Asian American Resource Center is founded by members of the Boston chapter of the Pacific Asian Coalition.
1979 November 10
Incorporated as Asian American Resource Workshop. Offices located at 27 Beach St., Boston.
Organizes the first Boston exhibition of Asian American artists.
Organizes screening of Hito Hata: Raise the Banner, the first Asian American produced feature film.
Media Group is formed.
Commemorates the 100th Anniversary of Chinese Exclusion Act with a multi-media production that includes the publication of booklet Our Roots in History.
Begins sponsoring the Asian American Film Festival.
Organizes Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week events.
Conducts an assessment of civil right needs of Asian Americans in Boston with the report To Live in Peace: Responding to Anti-Asian Violence in Boston.
Publishes the first Massachusetts Asian Pacific American Directory.
Offices relocate to 33 Oak St., Boston.
Initiates the Leadership Training Project to mentor and train young people to be effective leaders.
Initiates the SafetyNet Violence Prevention Project to help victims of anti-Asian violence.
Involved in the Coalition to Protect Parcel C for Chinatown.
Offices relocated to 160 Kneeland St., Boston.
Initiates Neighborhood Information Network (NIN).
The Sticky Rice Project: Uniting Asian Americans Through Anti-Racist Education is created.
Offices relocate to 33 Harrison Ave, Boston.
AARW Writers’ Group founded.
Starts first Activist Fellowship to empower young Asian Pacific American activists.
Offices relocate to 888 Washington St., Boston.
The Writers' Group publishes their first book, Asian Voices in Beantown.
Offices relocate to 42 Seaverns Ave, Boston.
Dorchester Organizing and Training Initiative (DOT-I) is launched in Fields Corner.
Offices relocated to 42 Charles St., Dorchester.
The Writers’ Group publishes their second book Under A Boston Sky.
Begins hosting workshops fighting anti-Black racism at universities.
API drag troupe, Lotux is formed.
AARW Story Project is launched to document and share the experiences of Asian-American communities.

Executive Staff Chronology

Fred Ho, Ramsay Liem, and Michael Liu, Founders
Peter Kiang, Program Director
Fred Dow, Executive Director
Michael Liu, Executive Director
Koshy Mathews, Executive Director
Michael Liu, Executive Director
Tracy Tsugawa, Executive Director
Anne Marie Booth, Executive Director
Eun-Joung Lee, Executive Director
Ching-In Chen, Director of Programs
2006-2007, 2009-2010
Michael Liu, Executive Director
John Hsieh, Executive Director
Allistair Mallillin, Executive Director
Carolyn Chou, Executive Director


71 cubic feet (60 boxes)

22 compact discs

13 floppy disks

16 audio cassettes

10 video cassettes

8 U-matics

6 Zip disks

5 film strips

3 Betacam

2 DVDs

2 film reels

2 open reel audiotapes






Founded in 1979 as one of the Boston area's first pan-Asian organizations, Asian American Resource Workshop is an intergenerational social justice nonprofit that promotes Asian American identity while addressing contemporary issues affecting their communities. The records consist of administrative files, newsletters, and audiovisual material.

System of Arrangement

Arranged into eight series: 1. Administration; 2. Programs and Events; 3. Chinatown Development; 4. Publications; 5. Outside Organizations; 6. Audiovisual; 7. Awards; 8. Resource Library

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Received from the Asian American Resource Workshop in two installments, in 2012 and 2017.

Sources for Historical Note

  • “History,” Asian American Resource Workshop, Accessed January 3, 2023.
  • Liu, Helen, “The Asian American Resource Workshop: 20 Years of Accomplishments,” Box 22
  • “Mission, Vision, Values,” Asian American Resource Workshop, Accessed April 20, 2022,
Finding aid for the Asian American Resource Workshop records
Jill Chancellor, Dominique Medal, Andrew Begley
September 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US