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Swem Archives capture stories of earliest Asian students at W&M

In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, Swem Library’s archivists recently explored the university archives to discover stories of the earliest known Asian and Asian American students and faculty at William & Mary.  

Ming Pan ’25, pictured below from the 1925 Colonial Echo yearbook, was an international student who came to William & Mary in 1924 from Changsha, China. Pan was particularly interested in government and had previously studied at College of Yale in China, also known as the Yale-China Association.

Hatsuye Yamasaki ’37, pictured below from the 1937 Colonial Echo, entered William & Mary in 1933 and graduated in 1937. During her time at the College, Yamasaki was part of the Judicial Council and the Women’s Sophomore Tribunal. She was also Brown Hall president, Spanish Club secretary, an Intramural Sports representative and on the Indian Handbook staff. Yamasaki hailed from Washington, D.C.

Professor Satoshi Ito was a member of the faculty at William & Mary from 1965-2003. In his youth, he was sent to a Japanese American internment camp in Arkansas during World War II. After leaving William & Mary, Professor Ito became involved with many organizations, including the Anti-Racism Commission, Diocese of Southern Virginia, the New Kent County Democratic Committee and the Human Rights Committee of Eastern State Hospital. For more information about Professor Ito, please see his oral history interviews in the William & Mary Digital Archive. 

Generally believed to be the first Asian American to attend William & Mary, Art Matsu ’28, pictured below, was half Japanese. He played for the W&M football team as a quarterback and a punter, and was also a member of the 7 Society.

Please see the Special Collections Research Center Wiki for more information about Asian and Asian Americans at William & Mary, and find more information on our Asian-Pacific American andAsian Studies Special Collections research guides. 

Ming Pan '25 Hatsuye Yamasaki '37Art Matsu '28