The Judy Yung Memorial Fund

May 11, 2021

By Alice Yang, Associate Professor of History 


The UCSC community was devastated to learn of the passing of Judy Yung on December 14, 2020 at the age of 74. In her honor, the campus has established the Judy Yung Memorial Fund, which shall be used to support interdisciplinary research and/or programming related to Asian American / Pacific Islander (AAPI) Studies at UC Santa Cruz. This fund will carry Yung’s legacy into the future by creating an open and inclusive forum for nurturing intellectual exchange across the disciplines. 

Born in San Francisco’s Chinatown on January 25, 1946, Judy was the fifth child of immigrant parents from Guangdong Province. She was bilingual and attended both public schools and Chinese-language schools before graduating as the salutatorian of Galileo School in 1963. She then received a B.A. in English Literature and Chinese Language from San Francisco State University in 1967 and an M.A. in Library Science from UC Berkeley.

She worked at the Chinatown Branch of the San Francisco Public Library where she established Asian-language and Asian American collections. As a journalist, she contributed to the East-West Chinese American Weekly and became an associate editor there in 1973. While at the Oakland Public Library, she helped found the first Asian public library in America in 1976. As a librarian and journalist, she was noted for her community advocacy and her commitment to promoting marginalized perspectives.

A prolific scholar, she collaborated with Him Mark Lai and Genny Lim to publish oral histories and translations of poetry by Chinese immigrants detained at Angel Island Immigration Station in Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 (Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco, 1980; 2nd edition, University of Washington Press, 2014), which won the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award in 1982. She also directed the Chinese Women of America Research Project, which produced a traveling exhibit and the publication of Chinese Women of America: A Pictorial History (University of Washington Press, 1986). 

Judy then returned to graduate school and received a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley in 1990. She joined the faculty in American Studies at UC Santa Cruz in 1990 and became a beloved professor and chair. She taught popular classes on Asian American history, women’s history, oral history, and the study of race and ethnicity. She received a UCSC Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999, an Excellence Through Diversity Award in 2003, and was named a commencement speaker four times. In 1995, she published Unbound Feet: A Social History of ChineseWomen in San Francisco (University of California Press), which won the Jeanne Farr McDonnell Book Award from the Women’s Heritage Museum, the Robert G. Athearn Book Award from the Western History Association, and the History Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. Other books include Unbound Voices: A Documentary History of Chinese Women in San Francisco (University of California Press,1999), Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to the Present, co-edited with Gordon Chang and Him Mark Lai (University of California Press, 2006), and San Francisco’s Chinatown (Arcadia Publishing, Revised Edition, 2016). She co-authored with Erika Lee, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (Oxford University Press,2010) and worked with Ruthanne Lum McCunn and Russell Leong to publish Him Mark Lai: Autobiography of a Chinese American Historian (UCLA Asian American Studies Center and Chinese Historical Society of America, 2011).

She interviewed and then married Chinese American World War II veteran Eddie Fung in 2003 and together they published The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War (University of Washington Press, 2007). They continued to speak to UCSC classes about Eddie’s wartime experiences and her oral history research even after Judy retired in 2004. After Eddie passed away in 2018, Judy returned to her family and beloved Chinatown community in San Francisco.

Countless UC Santa Cruz alumni, faculty, staff and members of the Santa Cruz community will celebrate Judy’s life and legacy in a program in Fall 2021. More details and information about this event will be available soon. 


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