Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Theme Studies

What are National Historic Landmark Theme Studies?

National Historic Landmarks are often identified through theme studies. Theme studies are an effective way of identifying and nominating properties because they provide a comparative analysis of properties associated with a specific area of American history, such as the fur trade, earliest Americans, women's history, Greek Revival architecture, Man in Space, or labor history. Theme studies provide a national historic context for specific topics in American history or prehistory. In order to make the case for national significance, a theme study must provide that necessary national historic context so that national significance may be judged for a number of related properties.

front cover of the AAPI theme study
Cover, "Finding a Path Forward: Asian American Pacific Islander National Historic Landmarks Theme Study"
Finding a Path Forward: Asian American Pacific Islander National Historic Landmarks Theme Study, edited by Franklin Odo, is a publication of the National Park Service. Each chapter has been written and peer-reviewed by experts in Asian American and Pacific Islander studies. To preview all chapters at once, visit the series home page.


A Brief Glimpse: Asian American Pacific Islander National Historic Landmarks Theme Study (.pdf | 2.5MB)

Front Matter (.pdf|1.9MB)

Table of Contents

Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans Revisited: An Introduction to the National Historic Landmarks Theme Study, by Franklin Odo, Department of American Studies, Amherst College (.pdf|3.3MB)

Essay 1: Imperialism and Migration, by Gary Y. Okihiro, Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, Columbia University (.pdf|3.4MB)

Essay 2: A Sea of Islands: Early Foundations and Mobilities of Pacific Islanders, by Amy Stillman, Director, A/PIA Studies Program, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (.pdf|1.9MB)

Essay 3: Archaeological Research on Asian Americans, by Douglas E. Ross, Albion Environmental (.pdf|3.4MB)

Essay 4: Immigration, Exclusion, and Resistance, 1800-1940s, by Erika Lee, Director, Immigration History Research Center, University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts (.pdf|3.2MB)

Essay 5: Establishing Communities, 1848-1941, by Nayan Shah, Department of American Studies and Ethnicity, University of Southern California (.pdf|3.1MB)

Essay 6: Reframe, Recognize, and Retell: Asian Americans and National Historic Sites, by Dorothy Fujita-Rony, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Irvine (.pdf|3.1MB)

Essay 7: Asian American Businesses, 1848 to 2015: Accommodation and Eclectic Innovation, by Lane Ryo Hirabayashi, Department of Asian American Studies, UCLA (.pdf|3.0MB)

Essay 8: The Architectural Legacy of Japanese America, by Gail Dubrow, Professor of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Public Affairs & Planning, and History, University of Minnesota (.pdf|3.4MB)

Essay 9: Sites of Resistance to Imperialism, by Davianna Pomaika'i McGregor, Department of Ethnic Studies, College of Social Sciences, University of Hawai'i at Manoa (.pdf|2.8MB)

Essay 10: Asian Americans and World War II, by Brian Niiya, Content Director, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project (.pdf|3.2MB)

Essay 11: Asian Americans: The Cold War, by Rick Baldoz, Department of Sociology, Oberlin College (.pdf|2.7MB)

Essay 12: Pacific Islanders in the US and their Heritage: Making Visible the Visibly Absent, by Kelly G. Marsh, Department of History, University of Guam, and Tiara R. Na'puti, Department of Communication, University of Colorado Boulder (.pdf|3.1MB)

Essay 13: Asian Americans and Cultural Retention/Assimilation, by Mary Yu Danico, Director, Asian American Transnational Research Initiative and Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona (.pdf|3.0MB)

Essay 14: Asian American Activism and Civic Participation: Battling for Political Rights and Citizenship, 1917 to the Present, by Daryl Joji Maeda, University of Colorado, Boulder (.pdf|3.0MB)

Essay 15: Asian Immigrants and Refugees: Demographic Transformations in the United States from World War II to the Present, by Linda Trinh Vo, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Irvine (.pdf|3.0MB)

Essay 16: New Asian American Communities: Building and Dismantling, by Catherine Ceniza Choy, University of California, Berkeley (.pdf|3.0MB)

Essay 17: AAPI Political Mobilization and Participation, by Kim Geron, California State University, East Bay (.pdf|2.8MB)

Appendix 1: Registration Requirements for Designating AAPI Properties National Historic Landmarks (.pdf|3.1MB)

Appendix 2: AAPI National Historic Landmarks Study List (.pdf|2.6MB)

Appendix 3: Sources of Information about AAPI Cultural Resources (.pdf|2.6MB)

Index (.pdf|835KB)


Asian American Pacific Islander Theme Study Panel
  • Milton Chen, Senior Fellow, The George Lucas Educational Foundation, San Francisco, CA
  • Christine DeLisle, Assistant Professor, American Indian Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Yen Le Espiritu, Professor, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California San Diego
  • Donna Graves, Historian and Cultural Planner, Berkeley, CA
  • Robert Hayashi, Associate Professor of American Studies; Chair of American Studies, Amherst College, MA
  • Michelle G. Magalong, Chair, Asian Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation, Corona, CA
  • Martin F. Manalansan IV, Associate Professor of Anthropology & Asian American Studies, Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Davianna McGregor, Professor, University of Hawai'i
  • Konrad Ng, Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Washington, DC
  • Franklin Odo, Chair, National Park Service Asian American & Pacific Islander Theme Study, Washington, DC
  • Karthick Ramakrishnan, Professor and Associate Dean, School of Public Policy, University of California, Riverside
  • Greg Robinson, Professor of History, Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Canada
  • Khatharya Um, Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies Department, University of California Berkeley
  • Ji-Yeon Yuh, Associate Professor, Department of History, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • Helen Zia, author, activist, and journalist, Oakland, CA
  • Barbara L. Voss, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, Stanford University, CA
  • Bill Watanabe, Executive Director, Little Tokyo Service Center, Inc., Los Angeles, CA
  • Christopher Yip, Professor, Architecture Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
  • Elaine Jackson-Retondo, National Historic Landmarks Manager, Pacific West Regional Office, National Park Service, San Francisco, CA
  • Stephanie Toothman, Associate Director, Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science, National Park Service, Washington, DC
  • Barbara Wyatt, Historian, National Register/National Historic Landmarks Programs, National Park Service, Washington, DC


Additional theme Studies focusing on Asian American or Pacific Islander heritage:


Civil Rights in America: Racial Voting Rights: The historic context contains separate essays on African American, American Indian, and the Hispanic and Asian American voting rights experience. All three stories begin at a different time period. Registration guidelines then outline how properties may qualify for National Historic Landmark designation under this theme study.

Japanese Americans in WWII (.pdf | 9.1MB): This Theme Study identifies, evaluates, and recommends designation as national historic landmarks those sites, buildings, and structures that best illustrate or commemorate the period in American history from 1941 to 1946 when Japanese Americans were ordered to be detained, relocated, or excluded pursuant to Executive Order Number 9066, and other actions.

WWII and the American Home Front (.pdf | 7.2MB): This theme study identifies historic places that best represents the wartime mobilization that occurred in the US and its territories between 1939-1945. A section of this four part theme study explores the African American and other minorities' experience during WWII.

Last updated: May 21, 2018