Former Members

Henry Chan

with King Fong, Henry Tsang, Toylaan Ah Ket, Shirley Fitzgerald, Kate Bagnall

HENRY CHAN 1937-2008

In 2000 Henry, a Chinese historian, with colleagues and friends in the Australian Chinese community, founded the Australian Chinese Historical Society. He was a foundation member and its first President. Until his death in 2008, Henry devoted almost all his time to encouraging projects, seminars and talks about Chinese contributions to Australian society. He spent time with local communities, especially around NSW, speaking to local historians and local history groups, helping to organize weekend events, tours to places of significance in the history of the Chinese in Australia, and the contributions, large and small, of individuals and immigrant communities.

Henry was born in Guangzhou in 1937, the only son of Chan Runling and his wife, Huang Lixia. His family came from Sungai, Zengcheng County, in Guangdong province. Henry’s family had had links with Australia since the mid-19th century, first in Queensland and then in NSW. Henry’s father had been sent by his own father to Auckland, NZ, in 1933 to set up a NZ branch of the family greengrocery business. Henry and his mother joined him there in 1940.

Henry was educated in Auckland and at Canterbury University, Christchurch, where he studied European and New Zealand History. He taught history at Colenso High School in Napier and in 1968, he was Junior Lecturer at Massey University, Palmerston North, where he met his wife, Mary Joiner, then a Lecturer in English. They were married in 1970, and their son, Sebastian, was born in 1973.

The family spent a year in London in 1974 where Henry studied for an MA in Chinese and Japanese history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. They returned to NZ in 1975, and the following year moved to Sydney where Mary took up a Lectureship at UNSW and Henry, a position in the Rare Books Library at Sydney University. In 1986, Henry was appointed to a Lectureship in Chinese History at the University of Newcastle, from where he commuted to Sydney until he retired in 1998, and he and Mary moved to Katoomba.

In 2004 Henry was awarded a Fellowship at the National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, where he studied Chinese immigration to New Zealand. In 2006, a book on immigration to NZ from Zengcheng was published for the 80th anniversary of the Zengcheng Association of Wellington: Zengcheng New Zealanders.

Over the last two decades of his life, Henry made contributions to almost every important event and institutional initiative in Chinese Australian Studies.

In 2017 the Annual Henry Chan lectures began.

Arthur 2016

Arthur Gar-lock Chang



Died Thursday January 14th aged 94

Arthur came to Australia from China in 1935 to join his father working in Tingha in northern NSW. He later moved to Sydney and was prominent in the Chinese Seaman’s Union and Chinese Youth League in combating the White Australia Policy, especially as it manifested itself in deportations after the end of WWII. Arthur was prominent in the Chinese-Australian community and was a founding member and Honorary Life Member of the Chinese-Australian Historical Society.




Margaret Toylaan Allen (nee Ah Ket) passed away on Thursday 16th July 2015, aged 94 years.

Margaret was a foundation member of the CAHS, very active in its early years and later honoured as a life member. She completed an Honours Degree at Sydney University with a thesis on the adaptation of Chinese Religion in Australian society.*Margaret was the daughter of William Ah Ket who was the first Chinese Barrister in Australia, a prominent figure in the history of the Chinese in the early years of the last century, and a leader in the campaign for the rights of Chinese and other non-European immigrants.

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