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Register of the Records of the



3.5 ft.

MSS 138


Michelle A. Ducellier

June 1997


The idea of a Pan Asian Association was conceived in 1982 as a result of Philadelphia's observance of the national Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.  The 1982 Pan Asian Festival presented an opportunity for the local Asian ethnic organizations to work together on a common event and to promote understanding and acceptance of the different Asian cultures and heritage.  This event brought together the Chinese Benevolent Association, the Korean Businessmen's Association, the Filipino Executive Council, the Japanese American Citizens' League, the Burmese-American Friendship Association, and the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia.  Because of the success of this first festival, these groups decided to create an umbrella organization which would offer an arena in which to work together to meet common goals, examine common interests and discuss common concerns.  The Articles of Incorporation were generated in 1982 and there is little paper institutional memory between the years of 1982 and 1985.  In 1985, the Pan Asian Association contracted with CHIAM, Inc., a consulting firm affiliated through its President, Juliana Mark-Le, with the Chinese-American Resource Center.  Juliana Mark-Le was contracted as acting Executive Director until the Association amassed sufficient funding to acquire its own staff.  Under her leadership, the organizational structure of Pan Asian emerges and is evidenced in it records.

The Pan Asian Association decided upon inception that its organizational structure would be different than the structure of the organizations it would eventually represent.  In the spirit of an umbrella organizationone that represented all of the members under itthe founding members decided that each ethnic group would elect a representative who would sit on the Board of the Pan Asian Association and whose one vote would be representative of the many members of their entire organization.  In this way, majority could be reached on motions or resolutions without amassing the necessary numbers of people that would be required of entire membership votes.  All Asian ethnic groups were invited to join the Association and upon acceptance, would elect an individual to sit on the Board.  Each represented organization would also be required at some point to act as Chair of the Board.  The Chair of the Board would be elected by the Board itself.  This position was often difficult to fill and is the source of some of the problems within the organization's history.  The Board members were advised by an Advisory Council; these members were chosen by the Board and invited to participate in an advisory capacity.  These Advisory members did not have voting rights but offered much needed assistance in the week to week activities of the Board.

After the structure of the organization was decided, it was necessary to find a location in which to meet to discuss issues and plan activities.  Through the connection with the Chinese-American Resource Center and Juliana Mark-Le, it was decided that the Pan Asian Association would share office space with the Resource Center at the Metropolitan Hospital located on North 8th Street, and have use of the meeting rooms there to conduct their meetings.  This arrangement worked until 1987 when they were forced to vacate their office and administrative activities were conducted via Executive Director Elsie Rojo's home.

The bulk of Pan Asian Association funding came from Class 500 grants from the City of Philadelphia.  These grants were essential to the planning and promotion of events such as the annual Heritage Week Festival at Penn's Landing and the Annual Awards Banquet, also during Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.  In addition to introducing the public to the many different contributions that Asian communities have made, the Association also strove to advance the position of this minority in the economic arena. Events such as PACED-the Pan Asian Conference on Economic Development which occurred in 1987 and its successor, the Pan Asian Business Conference in 1990 were great successes.  Although the bulk of their money and time was directed towards Heritage Week activities, the Association was able to organize events by and for the ethnic organizations it represented.

The goals of this organization were self-defined from its inception:

Unite Asian community through representative ethnic organizations and a strong network Promote a positive and accurate image of Asians and Asian Americans

Promote cross cultural understanding among Asians and between the Asian community and others

Promote recognition and understanding of Asian ethnic holidays and special events Increase leadership skills and promote opportunities for development

Encourage Asian Americans to take part in the American democratic process Advocate justice, equal treatment, and equal opportunities for development

Identify priority issues for Asian Americans and monitor and influence the development of public policy

Encourage the appointment and election of Asian Americans and others to both public and private Commissions and Boards that influence the welfare of the Asian American community

(Box 1, Folder 4)


These records were donated to the Balch Institute in 1991 by Fred Parawan and Skip Voluntad.


This collection, due to the amount of duplication found in the records, was heavily weeded.  As much as possible, the collection was organized to reflect the original order found in the 1986 series of records kept by then Executive Director Elsie Rojo.  The records themselves were disorganized, often groups labeled in the original inventory as "loose correspondence".  Where it was necessary, an artificial order was imposed based on the 1986 records.


This collection was donated to the Balch in 1991 by Fred Parawan and Skip Voluntad, two members of the Pan Asian Association, Mr. Parawan being the Secretary and Mr. Voluntad being the Chairman of the Board at the time of the donation.  The Pan Asian Association was an umbrella organization for many different Asian ethnic organizations in the Greater Philadelphia area.  The Association was largely sustained by a Class 500 grant which it received each year.  These records demonstrate the struggle to reach organizational goals with a severely limited budget.  They are also representative of the priorities of this organization and the way in which these priorities were realized and executed.  In times of organizational crisis, there are few records, most notably during the early years of 1982 (the year of incorporation) through 1986.  Another gap occurs in 1988, although the reason for this gap is unclear.  The bulk of the materials were generated in 1987, 1989 and 1990 when the organization was under clear leadership.


The following paragraphs describe the scope and content of the collection at the series levels:

Series I-Administrative

Boxes 1-3

The bulk of the Administrative material is Correspondence.  This Correspondence is broken down into three areas, and then organized by year.  The three main areas of correspondence are Board/Advisory Council, Membership, and General.  The Board and Advisory Council materials consists of correspondence between members of the Board, but more often between the Executive Director and members of the Board or Advisory Council.  The correspondence usually takes the form of tentative meeting agendas, or information that needs relayed by the Board member as representative of his ethnic organization to his ethnic organization.  Membership correspondence was collected most often in 1987 and 1989 when concerted efforts were made to attract new membership.  These materials can be found in Box 1, Folders 9 and 15.  General correspondence consists of any correspondence not Board or Membership related and also not related to any event (this correspondence is found in the Events series), program or financial matter.

The Administrative material also consists of the Class 500 grant proposals and the information for the other grants for which the Pan Asian Association applied.  These materials can be found in Box 2, Folders 5-7.  The remainder of the Administrative materials consists of the Board/Advisory Council Meeting Minutes arranged by year and three folders of General Reference Materials.  These Reference materials are materials of interest to the association, newspaper clippings and items of interest that had no place in the rest of the collection.

Series II-Programs

The Program series was created to organize the materials that were scattered throughout the original unprocessed collection.  Pan Asian Association attempted to gather information that it felt was of use to the organizations whom it represented.  It also strove to become a part of groups and commissions to enable the Association to further Asian interests in their local communities.  The Program Series is representative of this organizational goal.  Evidenced here is Pan Asian's involvement in the Asian/American Advisory Board and Task Force (Box 4, Folders 5 and 6) and in the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (Box 4, Folder 11).  Also placed here are three folders of Job Opportunities (Box 5, Folders 1-3).  The Association, along with the Chinese American Resource Center, attempted to broadcast job opportunities to the Asian community.  Because it was a program designed to further Asian American interests and could not be placed accurately elsewhere in the collection, it is housed here.

Series III-Financial Materials

Box 6

There is a glaring lack of Financial records.  The finances of this organization can only be examined through the bank statements that were distributed at Board Meetings and through the collection of petty cash receipts, photocopied checks, and requests for check disbursements.  All of these are found in Series 111, Box 6.  Although the Class 500 Grant materials are housed in the Administrative Series, how the Association made use of this money can be examined best in the Events Series.  The financial records available are only indicative of the financial well being of the Association at any given point of time.

Series IV-Events

Boxes 7-9

The bulk of the materials, and possibly the most interesting are in the Events Series.  Almost all of Pan Asian's administrative time and funds were spent on Event planning and execution.  All Events are organized by year, and, due to its importance to the Association, Heritage Week materials are organized into a Subseries and then arranged by year.  Each year, the Pan Asian Association would host the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Week.  Because this was a week long affair, often the Association would attempt to include events throughout the week.  All of the planning, publicity, correspondence and proclamation records for events are kept in this series.  The proclamation materials are housed in the folders within this series, but the actual Proclamations themselves are housed in the Oversized Box (Box 10).

The Pan Asian Association also held two successful Economic events.  In 1987, they held PACED-The Pan Asian Conference on Economic Development and then in 1990, PACED II became the Pan Asian Business Conference for which they hired a consultant for promotion, planning and publicity.  Both events were designed to incorporate the Asian community into the local economic scene.  Large amounts of correspondence and planning materials have been placed in Box 7, Folders 1-4 and Folders 10-12.

1990 was a rich year for events.  During this year, along with the Pan Asian Business Conference, there was also a Mental Health Seminar, the Asian American Families Conference, and a Business and Community Leaders Meeting. 

The separated materials stem from this series, as well.  The Banquet programs generated each year by the Association for use as a "souvenir" at its Award's Banquet and the photographs sent as samples for the Bourse exhibit in 1987's Heritage Week Art Exhibit were originally contained in this series.

Photographs taken from the Pan Asian Association of Greater Philadelphia Collection are housed in Photo Group 358.

Related Collections housed at the Balch Institute are:

Tswien Law Papers (unprocessed as of 7/97)

Ted O. Gustilo, Jr. Papers/Filipino Executive Council of Greater Philadelphia Records       (unprocessed as of 7/97)

Pedro Suplena Papers (unprocessed as of 7/97)

The box list of the Records of the Pan Asian Association of Greater Philadelphia is ten pages long.