Skip to main content

Norman Gan-chao and Anne Lee Yao Papers

Identifier: H-Mss-1106

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists mainly of photographic work of Norman Yao while in Hong Kong, Claremont, and other locations from the 1930s to 1980s and contains photographs, photo albums, negatives, 35 mm slides, postcards, official documents, correspondence, and ephemera.


  • Creation: 1943-1989 and undated


Language of Materials

Languages represented in the collection: Chinese and English.


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to reproduce or to publish must be submitted in writing to Special Collections.

Biography / Administrative History

Norman Gan-chao Yao 姚淦潮 (1913-1980) was born and grew up in Zengcheng County 增城縣, Canton, China. Anne Lee Yao 姚李勤芳(1915-1971) was born in Shanghai, China. Both of them attended the University of Shanghai 滬江大學 and graduated in 1938, Norman majoring in business administration, and Anne in education. After graduation, Anne worked as a primary school teacher in Shanghai while Norman returned to Canton working as an accountant and cashier at the Eurasia Aviation Corporation, first in Kunming, then in Hong Kong. In 1943, Norman and Anne met again in Shanghai. In the same year they got married at the Shanghai YMCA where Anne was employed. The next year their son, Peter Yao, was born in Shanghai. The couple stayed in Shanghai until 1946 when they returned to Canton where Anne gave birth to their daughter, Margaret. In 1947, Anne began to work as a librarian for United States Information Service, Canton Office, while Norman was employed as the chief clerk, accountant and later manager of the Canton Office of the Hsin Dah Trading Corporation. In 1949, they moved to Hong Kong. Anne continued working as librarian for the United States Information Service, Hong Kong Office, in charge of the Library in Kowloon, while Norman worked as the Photographer and Dark Room Technician in the Investigative Section of the American Consulate General in Hong Kong.

In 1956, sponsored by the Claremont Church, and the World Service Committee of the National Council of Churches, the Yaos immigrated to Claremont, California, under the Refugee Relief Program. Edward Lockwood 駱愛華, former YMCA World Service Executive who met the Yaos in Canton in 1947, played a major role in the Yao family's move to the United States, and subsequent settling into their new home. Soon after they arrived, Anne Lee Yao began working at the Honnold Library at The Claremont Colleges, a post she retained until her passing in 1971. Norman Yao was first employed at Grisworld's Candied Fruit Co., and later with The Claremont Colleges as a contracted photographer. Norman Yao was a lifelong enthusiast of photography, and the photographs he took in Hong Kong and in Claremont constitute the majority of the collections in the Yao Papers.

Norman Yao's Life Events with Historical Events

Republic of China Founded
Norman Yao was born in Canton
Yao attends University of Shanghai
1937 Battle of Shanghai
World War II begins
Yao's first wife dies
Battle of Hong Kong (Pearl Harbor)
Yao moves back to Canton
Norman Yao marries Anne
Son, Petter Yao, is born
World War II ends
Daughter, Margaret is born
Chinese Communists capture Canton
The Yao family flees to Hong Kong
Refugee Relief Act
The Yao family moves to America
Ronald Reagan elected President of United States
Norman Yao dies


11.4 Linear Feet (8 records boxes, 1 document box, 1 flat box)


Norman Gan-chao Yao 姚淦潮 (1913-1980) and Anne Lee Yao 姚李勤芳, both from China, immigrated from Hong Kong to Claremont, Califorinia in 1956 under the Refugee Relief Program with their two children, Peter Yao and Margaret. Norman Yao, a lifelong enthusiast of photography, later worked as a contract photographer with The Claremont Colleges. The collection consists primarily of Norman Yao's photographic work in Hong Kong, Claremont, and other locations and spans from the 1930s to the 1980s, including photographs, photo albums, negatives, contact sheets, and 35 mm slides. Other collection materials include postcards, official immigration and work documents, correspondence, and ephemera.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is organized into the following three series:

Series 1: Biographical materials, 1943-1985 and undated Series 2: Photographs, 1949-1979 and undated Series 3: Other photographic materials, 1967-1989 and undated

Folders are arranged alphabetically by file name within each series.

Physical Location

Please consult repository.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition

Gift of Peter Yao and Margaret Crusey, May 2017.


No additions to the collection are anticipated.

Processing Information

Processed by Marcus Liu in Spring 2018 in the Claremont Center for Engagement with Primary Sources (CCEPS), with assistance from Lisa Crane and by Sean Buchanan, Special Collections student assistant in 2019. Special Collections would like to thank Peter Yao and Margaret Crusey for their generous donation to CCEPS to fund the processing of this collection. All photographic materials were sleeved in protective acid-free enclosures. Scrapbooks and photo albums with tight and/or damaging bindings were disbound; pages were numbered and placed into file folders by page range. Rolled and/or curved items were flattened.

Norman Gan-chao and Anne Lee Yao Papers
Lisa L. Crane
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the 01 - Special Collections & Archives, The Claremont Colleges Library Repository

800 North Dartmouth Ave
Claremont CA 91711 United States