Although we can expect our understanding to change as new discoveries shape what we know, we currently have enough information to provide this brief overview of the history of Asian and Asian American students at Princeton accessible through our collections. Please look for more as research into Princeton’s past continues.
The earliest records of ethnically Asian students we have found were of a small group from Japan who came to Princeton in the 1870s. These early students tended to be sponsored by their own governments and many did not graduate, but Hikoichi Orita graduated with the Class of 1876.
Ethnically Chinese students may have begun arriving in the late 19th or early 20th century. Dong Seung, Class of 1905, an early example, was from Hong Kong, then a British colony. The Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Fund, which supported education of Chinese students in America, led a handful of other ethnically Chinese students to enroll in this period. Six students founded Princeton’s Chinese Students Club in 1913. One of them, Hsu Kun Kwong from the Class of 1914, may have been the first Asian student on the editorial board of the Daily Princetonian. Kwong, originally from Shanghai, was involved in many other aspects of campus life as well, including membership in Key and Seal, the American Whig Society, the Andover Club, and the Municipal Club and playing soccer. Continue reading