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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!  Please join the Library of Virginia as we recognize this month.  According to the 2020 United States census, the United States is home to 331,449,281 people, including 24 million Asians and 1.6 million Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islanders.1

In 1997, the Federal Office of Management and Budget defined Asian as “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.”  They define Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander as “A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.”  These standards guide questions of ethnicity and race that appear in the U.S. Census.2

Look for an exhibit in the Library’s Local History and Genealogy Room on the legislation that created Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at the federal level in 1978 and in Virginia in 2002.

During May, a selection of fiction and nonfiction books by or about Asian Americans will be available in the Circulation area for Virginia residents with Library of Virginia library cards to check out. Click here for information on how to obtain a library card.

U.S. Army Signal Corps, Hampton Roads Port of Embarkation, `{`Two enlisted men of 442nd Infantry`}`, C1:2/12/109

Prints and Photographs Collection, Special Collections, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.

Can’t visit the Library of Virginia?  Other resources are available to you!

Invitation to Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Reception, 18 May 1999.

Office of the Governor Record Group 3, Governor James S. Gilmore Records, Accession 39023, Barcode 1150794, Mansion Event Files, Box 11, Folder 44

We updated our Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Resources page to include new images and resources, as well as information on the Local History and Genealogy Room exhibit.

We will be exploring Asian American Pacific Islander Desi American history and culture in several blog posts in May on the Library’s The UncommonWealth blog.  You can subscribe for the latest updates or find links to blog posts that are relevant to APIDA history on our APIDA Resources page.  Look for posts about a triple murder in Hampton Roads, the 1950 U.S. Census, and Governor Mark Warner’s 2005 trade mission trip to Japan and India or catch  up on older posts while you wait!

We look forward to seeing you in person or virtually this month!

Header Image Citation

Virginia Department of the Treasury, Unclaimed Property, Accession 50624, Box 56, Lot 13047, Papers of Bill Hunt, 1960-1979, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA.


[1] Jones, Nicholas, et al., “2020 Census Illuminates Racial and Ethnic Composition of the Country,” United States Census Bureau, 12 August 2021,

[2] United States Census Bureau, “About the Topic of Race,” last modified 1 March 2022,,Islands%2C%20Thailand%2C%20and%20Vietnam.

Cara Griggs

Senior Reference Archivist

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