Fonds RBSC-ARC-1710 - Jim Wong-Chu fonds

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Jim Wong-Chu fonds

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  • [191-]-2017; predominate 1970-2010 (Creation)
    Wong-Chu, Jim

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Physical description

4.39 m of textual records and other material

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Jim Wong-Chu was a writer, photographer, historian, radio producer, community organizer and activist, editor, and literary and cultural engineer. He was born in 1949 in Hong Kong. In 1953, he was sent to live with this aunt and uncle in Canada as a "paper son", a term which referred to the practice of children who immigrated to the Canada by using real or falsified identification papers of relatives living in Canada. He was sent back to live with his parents in Hong Kong in 1957 out of concern that his paper son identity might be discovered by government authorities. However he returned to live with his aunt and uncle in Canada in 1961.

He attended Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art + Design) with a focus on photography and design from 1975-1981. He also attended the University of British Columbia for creative writing from 1985-1987.

He worked as a letter carrier for the Canada Post from 1975 until his retirement in 2013. However he also worked as an associate editor for Douglas and McIntyre and as an associate editor for Arsenal Pulp Press. He also did consulting work for various community organizations as well as film and television productions and literary publications.

He was a founding member of various community and cultural organizations including: Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop (ACWW), Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society/explorASIAN, the Pender Guy Radio Program, Asia Canadian Performing Arts Resource (ACPAR), Ricepaper magazine, and literASIAN: A Festival of Pacific Rim Asian Canadian Writing.

In addition to founding many community and cultural organizations, he was also involved in explorAsian (Vancouver Asian Heritage Month), Go for Broke Festival, B.C. Sinfonetta Society, Federation of British Columbia Writers, The Chinese Community Library Association, B.C. Heritage Trust and the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver. He also served on juries and advisory panels for various government grants and book prizes including the Vancouver Book Prize, B.C. Book Prize, and Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, and Multiculturalism Canada publishing grants.

He was the recipient of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal from the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canada Post Silver Postmark Award.

Selected Written Publications: Inspection of a House Paid in Full (author), Chinatown Ghosts (author), A Brief History of Asian North America (author), Strike the Wok: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Fiction (co-editor), Inalienable Rice: A Chinese and Japanese Canadian Anthology (contributor), Many-Mouthed Birds: Contemporary Writing by Chinese Canadians (co-editor), Millennium Messages: An Anthology of Asian Canadian Writing (contributor), and Swallowing Clouds: An Anthology of Chinese-Canadian Poetry (co-editor). He has also had written works published in West Coast Review, Bridge, Mainstream, New Shoots, Asianadian, and Shift Current Anthology.

Selected Photograph Publications and Exhibitions: The B.C. Photographer (publication), Mainstream (publication), Asianadian (publication), Inalienable Rice: A Chinese and Japanese Anthology (book), and Yellow Peril: New World Asians (exhibit).

Jim Wong-Chu passed away July 11, 2017.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds consists of records produced by Jim Wong-Chu, records associated with Jim Wong-Chu's involvement in various cultural and artistic communities in Vancouver, British Columbia, San Francisco, California, and other areas in the northwestern United States and Canada.

In particular, the fonds includes records related to: Canadian cultural and literary communities; Asian Canadian writers; social justice and historical issues related to discrimination of Chinese and other Asian ethnic groups; and Canada and Vancouver's Chinese and other Asian cultural communities.

The fonds has been arranged into the following 9 series: Asian American communities; Asian Canadian communities; Asian Canadian Writers Workshop; Correspondence; Go for Broke Festivals; Manuscripts; Personal works; Personal Records; Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society; and Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre.

In addition to the series listed above, there is one sub-fonds which includes records created by Garrick Chu, a close-friend and colleague of Jim Wong-Chu.

The main types of records within the fonds include correspondence, meeting minutes, schedules, manuscripts, posters and event flyers, photographs, event programs, financial statements and budgets, publications and articles, reports, conference proceedings, and speeches.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The fonds was donated to UBC Rare Books and Special Collections by Jim Wong-Chu in 2013. In addition to this, a box was brought to Rare Books and Special Collections from Allen Cho that had been given to him by Jim Wong-Chu to store which consisted of meeting minutes from Asian Canadian Writers' Workshop and Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. Jim Wong-Chu told him to bring the box to Rare Books and Special Collections in April 2013.

In the spring of 2018 an accrual to the fonds was donated by Jim Wong-Chu’s wife, Marlene Enns.

In February of 2019 a second accrual to the fonds was also donated by Marlene Enns.

A third accrual was donated in 2023 by Marlene Enns.


The records were received by the archivist with no original order apparent. That there was no organizational scheme present was confirmed in talking with the creator. Some records were already in files and much of the material was loose in the boxes received.

The archivist arranged the materials into series and sub-series. The archivist also identified one sub-fonds, as these were records that belonged to another person and were placed into custody with the creator after the sub-fonds creator's death.

Original titles of files were kept if there was a file title. If there was no title on the file or the file was created by the archivist, the title was placed in brackets.

The 2018 accrual was received by the archivist with no original order apparent for most of the materials. Where present, the original order of records was maintained. All materials in the accession were arranged and described within the existing series, and series descriptions were updated to reflect this. Where present, file titles were kept, and otherwise, supplied titles have been placed in brackets.

The physical order of the material in the 2019 accrual was maintained by the archivist, and the materials have been intellectually added to the existing series, with series descriptions updated to reflect the accrual. Where present, file titles have been maintained, supplied titles have been placed in brackets.

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  • Chinese
  • English

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General note

The first accession of the fonds contains photographs with the identifier format of BC-xxxx. RBSC has since switched its identifier to the format of RBSC-ARC-xxxx-PH-xxxx. All photos following BC2163-360 (RBSC-ARC-1710-PH-361 and forward) reflect the new system of numbering and represent photographs added to the fonds in the second accrual during the fall of 2018.

General note

Due to the large quantity of photographic material, photographs have been stored in separate boxes. Photograph location is indicated by accompanying separation sheets.

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Separated photographs are stored in Boxes 32 to 38, 40 and 41. Rolled posters are stored in Boxes 43, 44 and 45.

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Separated A/V material and digital media from the inital acquisition which was stored in Box 24 is now stored in Box 39.

General note

Includes the following original artwork: RBSC-ARC-1710-GR-01 to 66.

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A collection of books belonging to Jim Wong Chu are held by Rare Books and Special Collections. To access these titles, please search the Jim Wong-Chu Personal Library Collection under "other contributors/collections." in the library catalogue.

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Photograph identifier: BC-2163

Physical description

Includes approximately 3500 photographs: b&w and col. ; 52 x 40 cm or smaller, 928 slides : b&w and col., 414 filmstrips : b&w negatives ; 60.7 mm or smaller, 174 prints ; posters ; 107 x 50 cm or smaller, 9 paintings; 74.5 x 53 cm or smaller, ca. 15 drawings : various media ; 61 x 90 cm or smaller , 3 computer disks ; 9x9 cm, 2 computer discs, 1 optical disc (27 min., 38 sec), and 1 audio disc (8 min.) : analog, 45 rpm

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Description updated to reflect first accrual in December 2018 by Claire Williams.
Description updated to reflect second accrual in March 2019 by Claire Williams.
Description updated to reflect third accrual in August 2023 by Matthew White.

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