The Chinese American Society (CSA)

In the early days of Chinatown in America, immigrants were grouped by districts of origin and family surnames into district benevolent associations. These societies allowed people to locate fellow Chinese, socialize and seek monetary assistance.

In recent years, associations have worked to solidify their national identity. They have built a network pattern with the Chinese government by hosting delegations from various regions in China.


In this age of growing multiculturalism CHSA aims to make Chinese history relevant and accessible to broad audiences. We accomplish this through research, scholarship, and public programs that illuminate the Chinese American story.

The Association was founded in response to a demand by the growing number of ‘Old China Hands’ (many of whom worked for the large mercantile firms with trade interests in the Far East) for a body that would be exclusively concerned with China and its affairs. The first meeting was held at the Thatched House Club on March 4, 1889.

The early work of the Association was mainly to correspond with the Foreign Office regarding commercial grievances in China. It also produced quarterly summaries of Chinese domestic and international affairs and translations of the Chinese press. As the Association’s influence with the government grew, it began to advocate that official action should be taken to ensure that British mercantile interests were protected in China.


CCBA members have historically performed a quasi-governmental role in Chinatown, with its members representing and serving the interests of the community at large. CCBA has also assisted residents in their pursuit of business ownership and citizenship, and worked to promote the Chinese language as an important tool for American culture and commerce.

Membership in the organization is open to any individual, group or corporation interested in supporting cross-cultural, U.S.-China understanding and strengthening U.S.-China ties. Members receive discounts on tickets to public events and access to unique exhibitions, family programming, arts and language classes and much more throughout the year.

CCS members are eligible to attend domestic and international conferences with symposia in both Chinese and English. They are also eligible to apply for CCS Fellow membership, which is available to outstanding chemistry professionals worldwide. Become a member today!


CSA promotes Chinese culture and strengthens social and industry unity for the entire society. Its activities include but are not limited to educational seminars, cultural events and social media interaction among its members.

The association also lobbied for the rights of Chinese residents in the Chinatown area and worked to improve public awareness of the plight of the community. It arranged to send monetary donations to victims of anti-Chinese racial violence, sent petitions for support to government bodies, and organized community support for migrant workers.

The records include annual reports (1889-1995); correspondence; minutes, committee papers and circulars; and separate items including the China Association’s School of Practical Chinese Endowment Fund and newspaper cuttings. They are arranged in chronological order, with detailed chronological indexes available for parts of the collection (ref. CHAS/IND). A copy of the catalogue is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room, SOAS. A handlist of material retained by the China Association is also available.


CSA members have diverse backgrounds and careers. Many have advanced degrees in fields such as business development, the arts and finance. They are able to bring these skills and experiences to their communities to help enrich cultural diversity.

Unlike traditional overseas Chinese associations, which can trace their roots back centuries, new Chinese associations seek to be voices for the community and for civil rights. These groups have a broad base of support and a greater capacity for growth.

The China Association’s main work involved lobbying the British Government and the authorities in China on behalf of its members, often acting in conjunction with the London Chamber of Commerce, local Chambers, the Federation of British Industries and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. The collection contains minutes and committee papers, as well as correspondence with the Foreign Office regarding commercial grievances in Hankow and Tientsin. The Association also published quarterly summaries of Chinese domestic and international affairs and translated the Chinese press.

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