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Gene & Hedy Lee Chinese community newspapers & photographs, and family records

 Collection
Identifier: MS 556
Finding aid note: Box 1 stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center; boxes 2-3 stored offsite at Library Service Center. Please request access by email at woodson@rice.edu and allow 24 hours retrieval time.

Scope and Contents

Newspaper issues of the Southwest Chinese Journal (cataloged separately), photographs submitted to the newspaper for publication purposes and a small amount of correspondence regarding the Lee Printing Company of Houston, Texas, owned by Gene and Hedy Lee. The newspapers and photographs reflect Chinese culture in Houston during the 1970s and 1980s, including family life, business activities, cultural arts and organizations, news, and special events such as the Miss Chinatown contests. The bulk of the materials are comprised of these photographs, many of which taken by photographer Alvin Wong Gee. Gene's Food Market materials include wholesale grocery receipts and two interior photographs.

Dates

  • 1962-2010
  • Majority of material found within 1976 - 1985

Language of Materials

The newspaper issues are in Chinese, with English language identification of newspaper title, volume, issue and date. Photographs are largely unidentified, but do in some cases have annotations in either Chinese or English. Correspondence with the Lee Printing Company is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This material is open for research. Box 1 stored onsite at the Woodson Research Center; boxes 2-3 stored offsite at Library Service Center. Please request access by email at woodson@rice.edu and allow 24 hours retrieval time.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish from this material must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center. Contact woodson@rice.edu.

Biographical / Historical

Gene L. Lee, military veteran, entrepreneur, and publisher, was born on October 5, 1926, in Canton, part of China's Guangdong province. While only a young boy, Lee's father left their village of Toisan and traveled to Canada. Lee's mother passed away soon thereafter and Lee was raised by his sister with financial assistance provided by their father in Canada. Lee rarely spoke of his early childhood, for it was certainly marked by upheaval and uncertainty.

Lee did, however, travel in a month-long journey to the United States in 1949. His family was instrumental in aiding his travels: his father helped pay for the ship voyage, uncles and cousins joined Lee, and he ultimately lived with his sister and her husband in Houston, Texas. Soon after arriving in Texas, Lee was drafted into the United States Army and was assigned to occupation duty in Germany. Lee fondly remembered his service in the military as a time in which he met people of great diversity and was exposed to a host of disciplines including classes on typing, mathematics, and history. These formative experiences reflected Lee's life-long ambition to learn as much as possible through self-education.

While in Germany Lee met his future wife, Hedy. Following a courtship of only six weeks, Gene and Hedy married. The couple knew very little English and used a pocket dictionary to assist their communication. The Lees lived for two years in Germany while Gene completed his military service.

The couple returned to Houston and Lee began working in at his uncle's grocery. Gene and Hedy, though, soon purchased their own market and, throughout the 1960s, turned it into a successful business. Lee exhibited a strong work-ethic and labored seven days a week. Gene's Food Market, located at 3404 Leeland, was a family enterprise; all five of the Lee children worked in the store.

In 1970 Lee opened Lee Printing Company in Houston. He had long expressed an interest in the printing business, took community college courses on the subject, and sought advice from some of Houston's existing printers. Lee Printing provided both English and Chinese printing services and even sold office supplies to other businesses.

The printing industry directed the already successful Lee toward publishing his own newspaper. In 1976, he introduced the region's first Chinese/English newspaper, the Southwest Chinese Journal. Similar to his success in the grocery and printing business, Lee's positive influence was easily seen in the printing industry. One of his employees, Wea Lee (no relation), a Lamar University graduate, later founded the Southern News Group, which publishes multiple Chinese-language papers.

Lee retired from his prosperous businesses in 1994 and handed the daily operations to his son, Sam. Gene Lee, in addition to being a successful entrepreneur and businessman was also an avid reader and dedicated to self-education. He immersed himself in classical Chinese literature, history, and poetry. A connoisseur of Chinese music, Lee played violin with a Cantonese opera group.

Gene Lee passed away on October 24, 2010, and was survived by his wife, Hedy, their five children, nine grandchildren, and one great-grandaughter.

Extent

3 Linear Feet ( (3 boxes))

Overview

Newspaper issues of the Southwest Chinese Journal (cataloged separately), photographs submitted to the newspaper for publication purposes and a small amount of correspondence regarding the Lee Printing Company of Houston, Texas, owned by Gene and Hedy Lee. The newspapers and photographs reflect Chinese culture in Houston during the 1970s and 1980s, including family life, business activities, cultural arts and organizations, news, and special events such as the Miss Chinatown pageants. (1 box, plus newspaper issues)

Arrangement

Newspapers are cataloged separately in the Fondren Library catalog. They are available in the Woodson Research Center and in the Asian Studies Alcove, Fondren Library 1st floor.

Photographs are arranged by the original subject groupings provided by Gene and Hedy Lee.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This material was donated by Gene & Hedy Lee, 2010. Audio reels donated 2017 by Hedy Lee.

Separated Materials

Newspaper issues of the Southwest Chinese Journal have been cataloged separately and are available in the Fondren Library's Asian Studies Alcove (1st floor) and in the Woodson Research Center. Years present in the run of newspapers are 1976-1978, 1979 is missing, 1980-1985.

Source

Title
Guide to the Gene & Hedy Lee Chinese language newspapers & photographs, 1962-2010 (bulk 1976-1985)
Status
Completed
Author
Amanda Focke
Date
2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Contact:
Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA