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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1193: DVD-158: Vt-332

Papers of Cheng Imm Tan, 1960-2019 (inclusive), 1990-2019 (bulk)


Correspondence, diaries, Gung Kwok training material, photographs, DVDs, and videotapes; meeting minutes and planning materials of Cheng Imm Tan, immigrant community advocate and Asian American women's lion and dragon dance troupe founder.


  • Creation: 1960-2019
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1990-2019


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Most of the collection is open for research. Cheng Imm Tan's diaries (#3.5-3.7) and correspondence with Jee Ko (#2.7) are closed until her death, as specified in the agreement between Cheng Imm Tan and the Schlesinger Library. Researchers must contact Research Services for access to audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Cheng Imm Tan is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3.46 linear feet ((6 file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 1 folio folder, 15 photograph folders, 14 slides, 23 videotapes, 12 DVDs, archived web site content)
46.14 Megabytes

The collection documents Tan's work on behalf of immigrants and survivors of domestic abuse (including her efforts to make domestic abuse in the Asian American community more widely recognized), and her work to empower Asian American women through the performance of dances traditionally performed by men. It includes photographs, videotapes and DVDs, flyers, and teaching documents of Gund Kwok; Tan's immigration and travel documents and school papers; diaries; correspondence, including with Ken Morin; a birthday book celebrating Tan's sixtieth birthday; biographical information including resumes; meeting minutes and planning materials from Tan's work with the Office of New Bostonians and other organizations; and a videotape of Tan's ordination. Most folder titles were created by Tan; folder titles or additions by the archivist appear in square brackets. Gund Kwok's website and their youtube channel are being captured periodically as part of Schlesinger Library's web archiving program and are represented in this finding aid as #E.1. Electronic records were received on eight 3" disks and 16 CD-Rs and imaged using FTK Imager. Selected electronic records are described in the finding aid as #E.2-E.14.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL, PERSONAL, AND PROFESSIONAL, 1960-2019 (#1.1-6.23, 7FB.1v, FD.1, E.1-E.14), includes diaries and Tan's resume; correspondence with family and friends; schoolwork (including transcripts and assessments of Tan by her teachers); Tan's Malaysian passports; newsclippings including interviews with Tan; articles about and training materials for the Asian Task Force on Domestic Violence, as well as the program for a fashion show benefit for the Task Force; meeting minutes and planning documents for Tan's work with the Boston School Committee and the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians; and material related to Tan's ordination, including speeches, congratulatory letters, and an evaluation of Tan by the president of the board of Unitarian Universality Urban Ministry regarding Tan's performance as a minister at large. The series also includes material related to the Gund Kwok Dance Troupe, including flyers, regarding shipments of dragons, lion heads, and musical instruments; job descriptions; exercises and training documents; membership applications (including member statements regarding what they hope to gain from Gund Kwok); trial class syllabus and explanation of class expectations, including class etiquette and troupe member responsibilities. Also included are planning materials, programs, and attendees' comments for the "Asian Women. Eat. Speak. Share" events Gund Kwok held in 2001 and 2003. Of note are the letters from Ken Morin, in which he discusses his work with men's liberation; notes from women Tan met at the Women's Theological Center, expressing their feelings towards her; letters from friends expressing ambivalence towards major life developments such as marriage and having children; a letter from the director of Renewal House acknowledging difficulties in reaching the Asian community and expressing hope that Tan's presence on staff will alleviate this issue; and Tan's articles about attending the United Nations Decades for Women conference in Nairobi. The series is arranged with biographical and personal material appearing first, followed by an alphabetical listing of professional material. Gund Kwok's archived website is included in this series and is represented by #E.1. Electronic files, which sometimes overlap with the paper files, are listed as #E.2-E.14.

Series II, PHOTOGRAPHS AND AUDIOVISUAL, 1973-2010, undated (#PD.1-PD.16, DVD-158.1 - DVD-158.12, Vt-332.1 - Vt-332.23), includes photographs of the Gund Kwok troupe and Tan with others including Ken Morin and other family members, and Mayor Thomas Menino. The series also includes DVD and videotapes of Gund Kwok performances, including August Moon and Chinese New Year celebrations. Several performances begin or conclude with Tan explaining the tradition of Lion or Dragon Dance and Gund Kwok's purpose and urging women in attendance to consider joining the troupe. Demonstrations of the drumming that accompanies performances are also included. The series also includes a VHS tape of Tan's ordination and a recording made in honor of Tan's forty-ninth birthday. The series is arranged by format and then chronologically.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.


Community advocate and consultant Cheng Imm Tan was born January 19, 1958, in Penang, Malaysia, to Gim Chit Khoo and Guan Hoo Tan. She came to the United States in 1978 to enroll at Wilson College, and graduated from Dickinson College in 1981. Tan received a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School in 1986. In 1989 she married Kenneth G. Morin; the couple adopted a baby from China in 2007. From 1984 to 1985, she worked as a researcher for the Consumer's Association of Penang, in Penang, writing a book and conducting surveys, interviews, and workshops on rape, prostitution, and sexual harassment. In 1985 she co-led a workshop at the Third World Women's Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. She served as senior minister at large and as director of Refugee and Immigrant Women's Programs with the Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry in Boston from 1986 to 1998. From 1986 to 1991, Tan worked at Renewal House, a battered women's shelter in Roxbury, Massachusetts. Early in her tenure at Renewal House, Tan realized that language and cultural barriers prevented the few Asian women who used the shelter from getting effective help. This prompted her to found the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK) in 1986, with the aim of addressing the denial and silence around domestic abuse in Asian communities. In 1993, ATASK launched the Asian Shelter and Advocacy Project (ASAP), which opened New England's first emergency shelter and transitional housing programs for Asian survivors of domestic abuse. ATASK's other services include a 24-hour multilingual hotline. In 1998, ATASK, in collaboration with the Unitarian Universality Urban Ministry, founded Ricesticks and Tea, the only food pantry in the greater Boston area serving the Asian American community with culturally appropriate food.

Also in 1998, Tan was hired by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to start the Mayor's Office of New Bostonians (later the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Advancement), which attempted to recognize and attend to the needs and concerns of Boston's diverse immigrant communities. She served as director until 2014. In 1998, Tan also founded Gund Kwok, an all women Asian Lion Dance troupe. The Lion Dance has traditionally been performed only by male dancers, and Tan wished to change that tradition and create new ways for Asian women to show and celebrate their power and strength. The troupe's goals including challenging women to "realize their physical potential and achieve excellence in a supportive environment" and empowering Asian women from diverse communities to break through stereotypes and build teamwork and cooperation. After a few years, the troupe expanded its mission to also dance the Dragon Dance, and is now known as Gund Kwok, Asian Women's Lion and Dragon Dance Troupe. The troupe performs frequently in the greater Boston area, both at festivals in Chinatown and at private events. Tan has received many awards for her work on behalf of women and immigrants and has served on Massachusetts commissions on domestic violence and on Asian Americans, as well as on an advisory council on refugees and immigrants. She is a certified life coach, and as of 2022, in addition to her volunteer work with Gund Kwok, she works as a consultant and personal coach.


The collection is arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Biographical, personal, and professional, 1960-2019 (#1.1-6.23, 7FB.1v, FD.1, E.1-E.14)
  2. Series II. Photographs and audiovisual, 1973-2010, undated (#PD.1-PD.16, DVD-158.1--DVD-158.12, Vt-332.1--Vt-332.23)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2019-M42, 2019-M101, 2020-M14

The papers of Cheng Imm Tan were given to the Schlesinger Library by Cheng Imm Tan between February 2019 and February 2020.


Donors: Cheng Imm Tan

Accession number: 2019-M101

Processed by: Susan Earle

The following items have been removed from the collection and offered to the City of Boston Archives:

  1. DVDs and digital videotapes of Office of New Bostonians events.

Processing Information

Processed: December 2023

By: Susan Earle, with assistance from Janin I. Escobedo Garcia

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

General processing procedures in place at the Library include the following:  books (when not heavily annotated) by and about the collection's creator and on subjects which fall within the Library's collecting area are removed and cataloged separately with information about their provenance; other books and serials are not retained.  Other material not normally retained include:  invoices, receipts, orders, etc.

When samples of weeded documents are retained, it is indicated in the finding aid.

Tan, Cheng Imm. Papers of Cheng Imm Tan: A Finding Aid, 1960-2019 (inclusive), 1990-2019 (bulk)
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Fund, Pforzheimer Fund for the Schlesinger Library, Sybil Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library, and Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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