Chinese Musical and Theatrical Association (CMTA) collection Edit


1989.002 2013.015


  • 1930-1992 (Creation)


  • 120 Linear Feet (Whole)
    76 boxes (including 14 large boxes) and 23 oversize objects



  • Language of Materials

    Some materials also in English.

  • Arrangement

    Arranged into 15 series alphabetically: [1] Accessories, [2] Audio-visual materials, [3] Chan Wah-Soe's materials, [4] Correspondence, [5] Costumes, [6] Financial records, [7] Instruments, [8] Membership records, [9] Miscellaneous documents, [10] Printed material, [11] Programs and tickets, [12] Publicity, [13] Scripts and scores, [14] Stage and script notes, and [15] Stage props

  • Conditions Governing Access

    Most of the material in the sixth series, financial records, is restricted due to sensitive financial and legal information.

  • Conditions Governing Use

    For reference use only; not for reproduction, distribution, or deposit in another collection. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Director of Collections. If publishing, cite: Chinese Musical and Theatrical Association Collection, Museum of Chinese in America.

  • Scope and Contents

    The items and documents in this collection are related to the administration and performances of CMTA. Series 4, 6, and 8-14 consist of materials related to the day-to-day operations of the association. These materials are mostly paper documents and they include correspondence; bills and receipts; donation records; account ledgers; membership attendance books and charts; various books, journals, and newspapers; newspaper clippings and posters publicizing CMTA performances; tickets and programs for performances; opera scripts and scores; and stage and script notes. Series 1-2, 5, 7, and 11 contain materials related to the performances of the association. Most of these items are objects, such as musical instruments and stage props, and textiles, such as costumes and accessories. In addition, there are photographs and audio recordings of various CMTA performances. Finally, series 3 consists of items found in Chan Wah-Soe's trunk. Wah-Soe was a member of the military who was active in the association upon his return to the United States. His materials not only include objects related to his military service, such as his uniform and draft card, but also documents connected to his involvement with CMTA, such as accounting records and photographs of performers.

  • Biographical / Historical

    The Chinese Musical and Theatrical Association (CMTA) or Zung Gwok Jem Ngok Keik Se (Zhongguo yingyue jushe) was officially founded in 1931, although it had existed for several years before this date. The association’s name can be credited to the suggestion made by the Chinese war hero in the Sino-Japanese War, General Zoeng Fat Fui, who influenced the naming upon one of his visits to New York City. Located on 24 Pell Street in New York City’s Chinatown, CMTA was a membership association, with members paying dues. There were around 60 members, 10 of which were active participants. It is unclear whether the active participants performed more often or assisted with the administration of the association. According to the various records, the association usually was commissioned by other “benevolent” associations, clan associations, and individual patrons to perform, both publicly and privately, for occasions such as fundraisers, the national day of the Republic of China, Chinese New Year, New Year, Chinese Thanksgiving, individual patrons’ private birthday celebrations, and the founding anniversary of various operatic song groups. Stanley Chiu, a member of the association, appears to have held a leadership role in the organization; he played in the orchestra, but he also wrote some correspondence appealing to CMTA members for increased funds. He possibly oversaw the administrative aspect of CMTA.

  • General

    This finding aid was created with grant support from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

External Documents