On the passing of Judy Yung

By UCBerkeleyAAADS

A Message from the Chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies

It is with sincere sadness that we report the passing of Judy Yung, an Ethnic Studies Ph.D., a native of San Francisco’s Chinatown, and a pioneering scholar of Chinese American women’s history. Her many awards include being National Women’s History Month Honoree (2015); the 2007, Annie Soo Spirit Award from Chinese Historical Society of America; and the Lifetime Achievement Award, Association for Asian American Studies in 2006.  

Her obituary in the San Francisco Chronicles, offers a glimpse of her story and her impact. “As a San Francisco public librarian working in the Chinatown branch during the early 1970s, Judy Yung discovered a major hole in the collection, and in scholarship in general. There were no scholars on the experience of Chinese-American women, in ordinary life. So, Yung quit her job to become that scholar. In her 40s, she went back and got her Ph.D in ethnic studies at UC Berkeley. She then spent two years traveling the country, collecting oral histories, on her way to becoming a tenured professor of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz, where she built from scratch a program in Asian-American studies.” 

Ethnic Studies Prof. Cathy Ceniza Choy reflected on her passing, saying, “I had the privilege and pleasure of interacting with Judy on several occasions. As one of a few senior scholars in Asian American and women’s history, she was a role model for my own research on Filipino American women’s history. Thank you, Dr. Judy Yung, for your pioneering historical research on Chinese American women, migration, and poetry. You have been and will continue to be a bright light in ethnic studies.” All of us in Ethnic Studies send our condolences to her family, her students, and those she left behind, knowing her contributions and kindness will carry forward.

Juana María Rodríguez
Professor, and Chair, Ethnic Studies