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National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum records

Identifier: SSC-MS-00586

Scope and Contents

The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum records document NAPAWF's campaigns and projects, relationships to other organizations, publications, and administrative history. Major topics in project and activism files include women's rights, reproductive rights, women's health, LGBT rights, immigration reform, domestic violence, human trafficking, labor reform, economic justice, voter registration initiatives, and the history of NAPAWF activism. Particular projects that are well represented include various California health initiatives, the California Young Women's Collaborative, the NAPAWF and Choice USA collaboration on reproductive rights, advocacy for nail salon workers, the founding meetings in Beijing, and the National and Minnesota Summits.

The records include administrative files, correspondence, conference and retreat materials, reports, photos and videos, newspaper clippings, financial records, speech drafts, planning meeting notes, information on individual chapters of the organization, grant proposals, posters, and research files. NAPAWF publications include articles, fact sheets, newsletters, and chapter handbooks.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1995 - 2019


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

To the extent that they own copyright, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) has assigned the copyright in their works to Smith College; however, copyright in other items in this collection may be held by their respective creators. For reproductions of materials that are governed by fair use as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission to cite or publish is required. For instances which may regard materials in the collection not created by NAPAWF, researchers are responsible for determining who may hold materials' copyrights and obtaining approval from them. Researchers do not need anything further from Smith College Special Collections to move forward with their use.

Biographical / Historical

At the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, Asian and Pacific Islander American female activists at the non-governmental organization (NGO) forums realized they had no organized voice for participating officially in the conference, and, although each of them as individuals had worked extensively on their respective issues (safety, economic justice, reproductive rights, equal educational access, health, immigrant and refugee rights, civil rights and LGBTQ rights) their work was not linked in any sustained or meaningful way back in the United States. While in Beijing, one hundred women came together over two caucuses and pledged to build and sustain a national, progressive, multi-issue movement of Asian Pacific American women in the United States when they returned home; subsequently, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) was founded in September 1996, in Los Angeles, California.

Several regional chapters were formed, as was the National Transition Team (an interim leadership body), composed of representatives from different regions. Platform issue areas were identified and articulated. Fundraising, Media/Communications, Membership/Outreach, and Governance committees were formed.

In 1997, NAPAWF became a project of the Tides Center (an organization that provides back-office services, a legal framework, and capacity-building support for projects that share its vision of a just, healthy, and sustainable world). In 1998, the NAPAWF National Summit was held in Minnesota, where platform issues were ratified and governance procedures were established.

From 1997 to 2001, NAPAWF had several part-time coordinators based in California: Milyoung Cho, Christine Balance, Jenny Lin and Judy Han. In April 2003, the organization established the national office in Washington, DC and hired Kiran Ahuja as its first national director. Ahuja served until 2008, when Miriam Young assumed the position.

NAPAWF actively pursues the following platforms: civil rights (including LGBT rights), economic justice, educational access, ending violence against women (including trafficking), health and reproductive freedom, and immigrant and refugee rights.


19.959 linear feet (24 containers)

1.55166 Gigabytes

Language of Materials



Advocacy group which focuses on the rights and needs of Asian and Pacific Islander American Women. Records include administrative files, correspondence, conference and retreat materials, reports, newsletters, articles, photos, videos, and research files. Major topics include women's rights, reproductive rights, women's health, Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender rights, immigration reform, domestic violence, human trafficking, labor reform, economic justice, voter registration initiatives, and the history of NAPAWF activism.


Materials are arranged into seven series.


  1. Administrative files
  2. Local Chapters
  3. Fundraising and Financial records
  4. Conferences and Meetings
  5. Publications and press
  6. Other organizations
  7. Policies and Projects

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains materials received from the donor in digital form that are not currently available online. Please consult with Special Collections staff or email to request access to this digital content.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum began donating their records to the Sophia Smith Collection in 2008.


In 2020 while processing the collection, archivists removed duplicate materials, memorabilia, and awards from the collection. In addition to these, a small amount of applications to California Young Women's Collaborative which included student grades and personal information were removed to protect the privacy of participants.

Related Materials

To see materials related to NAPAWF staff, see the Lora Jo Foo papers (Foo co-founded the NAPAWF and was its National Chair from 1996 to 1998), the Peggy Saika interview by Loretta Ross for the Voices of Feminism Oral History Project, and the Asian American Reproductive Justice Oral History Project oral histories.

For records related to the Beijing NGO Forum where NAPAWF was founded, see the International Women’s Tribune Centre records.

NAPAWF partnered with Choice USA for several projects, and the Sophia Smith Collection holds their materials in the Choice USA records. NAPAWF was also a member of SisterSong,and we have their papers in the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Health Collective records.

To see materials from organizations and activists who worked on Asian Pacific American issues, see the Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women's Association of the U.S.A. records, the Forward Together records, the Third World Women's Alliance, Bay Area chapter records, the Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, and the Asian Pacific American women series in the Women of Color collection.

Processing Information

In 2020, the Processing Archivist, Madison White, arranged and described the collection. While much of the material in the collection was in folders, many of these folders were unlabelled. She placed all materials in folders and labelled existing folders. Foldered materials were then arranged into seven series, and further organized within series. Finally, a new description was created to reflect the new collection structure.

The contents of computer media in this collection has been copied to networked storage for preservation and access; the original directory and file structure was retained and file lists were created. Some floppy disks were unable to be copied. See the log files linked in the container list for more details.

Genre / Form


Finding Aid to the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum records
Enhanced Finding Aid (Completed)
Finding aid prepared by Madison White and Burd Schlessinger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:19-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2020-07-16: Description added for born-digital content.
  • 2020-08-07: Oversized materials and top containers added as part of flat file data migration project
  • 2020-10-30: Updated to reflect new arrangement

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063