Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Francis J. Tsai
Part 1


Part 2


Description BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION: Francis (Frank) Tsai was born in 1948 in South Bend, Indiana. His father, Hong-ji Tsai, had graduated from Purdue University in engineering in about 1937 and had stayed on to work for the Studebaker Corporation. During World War II the senior Tsai joined the United States Marines and was stationed as a liaison officer in Shanghai. While in Shanghai he married the daughter of family friends. After the war he returned with his wife to South Bend and the Studebaker Corporation. The company's executives planned to send Tsai's father back to Shanghai to manage a planned Studebaker plant in that city, but with the Communist victory in China in 1949 those plans were abandoned, and the family remained in South Bend. In 1951, when Frank was about three, the family moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan, and six years later they moved to the Twin Cities area, where Tsai's father had been offered a job by the Honeywell Corporation of Minneapolis. Tsai grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs of Glen Lake, where he attended the Immaculate Heart of Mary Elementary School, and St. Louis Park, where he attended Benilde High School. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor's degree in child psychology in 1970, and in 1972 he received a master's degree in public health from the university. During 1972 and 1973 Tsai worked as a health educator at the Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco's Chinatown, a project funded through the Office of Economic Opportunity in Washington, D.C. He returned to Minneapolis in the fall of 1973 and accepted a position at Northeast Community Organization, working on a health planning project under a grant from Hennepin County. From 1974 to 1976 Tsai served as a public health counselor for the Minneapolis school district, and in 1977 he accepted a position as health analyst for the Minnesota Department of Health. While working at the state health department, Tsai began to work with early organizers of the Minnesota Asian American Project, a pan-Asian organization designed to serve the needs of the Asian-American community. In 1978 he became the first president of the organization and spearheaded efforts to establish an Asian cultural center in the Twin Cities. He left the state health department to work full-time at South Side Community Enterprises, where he focuses his efforts on raising funds for the project. In 1979, when adequate support for the project failed to materialize, Tsai accepted a job in Chicago as director of a feasibility study for the Cooperative Health Plan, a private, for-profit stock company offering a prepaid health plan. Later, after implementation of the company's health plan, he became director of the company. SUBJECTS DISCUSSED: Family background in Shanghai; child rearing in the immigrant community; intermarriage of second- and third-generation Chinese; the structure of the Chinese community in Minnesota; political attitudes; discrimination; and initiation of the pan-Asian Minnesota Asian American Project (MAAP), and efforts of its members to develop an Asian cultural center in the Twin Cities. COMMENTS ON INTERVIEW: As president of MAAP, Tsai had contact with leaders of various class and regional groups in the Chinese community, as well as with leaders of other Asian groups. His perspective on the Chinese and larger Asian community therefore reflects his broad experience with both the older Asian immigrant groups and those who have arrived recently. He is also very perceptive in his observations concerning the second and third generations.
Quantity 1 hour sound cassette
47 pages transcript
Format Content Category: sound recordings
Content Category: text
Measurements 00:59:45 running time
Creation Interviewee: Tsai, Francis J.
Interviewer: Mason, Sarah R.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Subjects Asian Americans -- Minnesota
Chinese Americans -- Minnesota.
Made in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States
Dates Creation: 01/04/1979
Holding Type Oral History - Interview
Identifiers OH 51
Accession Number AV1981.361.8
More Info MHS Library Catalog
Related Collections Oral History - Project, MHS Collection, project: 'Asians in Minnesota Oral History Project'

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