Chinese Historical Society of New England reflects on and celebrates 25 years of achievement

The Chinese Historical Society of New England celebrated 25 years on Sept. 29 at Hei La Moon. Members of the American Legion Boston Chinatown Post 328 received the Sojourner Award. (Image courtesy of William Ge.)

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Chinese Historical Society of New England (CHSNE). To commemorate this historic achievement and recollect the accomplishments of the society since its founding in 1992, members and their guests gathered for dinner in Boston Chinatown’s Hei La Moon on Sept. 29.

There were numerous occasions for celebration at this gathering. First, the Old Quincy School, located at 90 Tyler Street, was officially recognized this year on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. According to CHSNE, Old Quincy School is “the first building on the East Coast and thirteenth nationwide attributed to Chinese immigrant history.” Initially a boy’s school serving primarily Irish, Jewish, Italian and Syrian students, the school’s population was more than 90 percent Chinese American by 1976 due to a rapid and continuous influx of Chinese students following World War II. The school relocated to 885 Washington Street in 1976, and the building became home of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England (CCBA) in 1983. Many Boston Chinatown residents were educated at the Old Quincy School, and it is for its deep-seated historic ties to the history of Boston Chinatown and greater Boston that it was nominated to the National Register.

The CHSNE Sojourner Award, dedicated each year to a member or group who has made significant contributions to the Chinese American community, honored both Caroline Chang and the American Legion Boston Chinatown Post 328. Chang, a founding member of CHSNE, leads a distinguished career as a former service representative of the Boston Mayor’s Office of Public Services, former regional manager of the Office of Civil Rights, co-founder of the Asian Community Development Corporation, and dedicated community leader and advocate. Her award was presented by fellow CHSNE co-founder Peter Chan, who in his introductory speech dedicated a poem to her in Cantonese and English.

Boston Chinatown Post 328 was established in 1945 for Chinese-American veterans by Wesley Moy, Henry Oi, Joe Ngit Chin, Alfred Yee, and others. A post of the American Legion, the nation’s largest veterans organization, Post 328 has served the Boston Chinatown community for more than 70 years. Members of the Post are currently accepting contributions from the community to construct a veteran’s memorial in Chinatown.

Looking forward, CHSNE will be co-sponsoring the Boston Asian American Film Festival (BAAFF), where videos created for the Boston Chinatown Heritage Project will premiere on Oct. 22. These videos, featuring director Kenneth Eng, MIT professor emeritus Tunney Lee and Boston teen filmmakers in the Teen Program at Castle Square, seek to illustrate the rich, complex and beautiful history of Boston Chinatown. This year, BAAFF will feature more than 25 films from Oct. 19 to 22 at the Brattle Theatre and Paramount Center.

CHSNE board members celebrated the society’s 25th anniversary. (Image courtesy of William Ge.)

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