Stamps Across the Pacific

Virtual Exhibit

A Visual History of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Migrations

11 cent National Parks Centennial stamp portraying a statute of Ki’i, an ancient god of the Hawaiian people
11¢ National Parks Centennial airmail single, 1972
(Select image to learn more.)


Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander immigration to the United States has a long and complex history, dating back to the mid-19th century when Chinese immigrants first arrived in search of economic opportunities. Over time, they were joined by others from countries around the Pacific Rim, including Japan, Korea, and the Philippines, who began to arrive in large numbers during the twentieth century.

The experiences of these immigrants in America have been shaped by political and economic factors, including periodic outbreaks of violence against them and discriminatory government policies such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Despite these challenges, Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander immigrants have formed strong communities in the United States and are making significant contributions to American society in areas such as science, technology, and the arts.

This virtual exhibition features every U.S. postage stamp issued to date (2023) that honors Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans or their history and culture. It also highlights some stamps that depict the natural environments of the places from which they came.

This virtual exhibition was created by Daniel A. Piazza, NPM’s chief curator. It incorporates some content from an earlier virtual exhibition, People and Places of the Pacific, originally created by Museum Specialist MJ Meredith and Web Intern Joan Flintoft and subsequently updated by Lauren Maloy.

All images of U.S. postage stamps are copyright protected by the United States Postal Service.