Erika Lee is a Regents Professor of History and Asian American Studies, a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History, and Director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. Recently elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, she is the President-Elect of the Organization of American Historians and the author of award-winning books including At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 (University of North Carolina Press, 2003), Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (co-authored with Judy Yung, Oxford University Press, 2010), and The Making of Asian America: A History (Simon & Schuster, 2015, 2nd ed., 2016, Chinese version, 2019). Her recently-published America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States. Called “unflinching and powerful” by Carol Anderson (author of White Rage) and “essential reading” by Ibram X. Kendi (author of How to Be an Antiracist), America for Americans won the American Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, and the Richard Frisbie Honored Book Award for Nonfiction. It was also a finalist for the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award and the Minnesota Nonfiction Book Award and was named to best books lists by Time, USA Today, and Ms. Magazine. It was highlighted by the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New York Public Library as one of the most important books illuminating the Trump era and informing essential issues in the 2020 election. It has been excerpted in The Atlantic and profiled in The New Yorker. Op-eds based on the book appeared in Time and the Washington Post. She has been awarded numerous national and university fellowships and awards for her research, teaching, and leadership, including the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, the 2017 Dean's Medal and the Arthur Red Motley Award for Excellence in Teaching from the College of Liberal Arts, the 2016 Pioneer Award from OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates, and the 2015 Immigrant Heritage Award from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. She is an active public scholar, appears regularly in the media, and has been an invited speaker at universities, historical societies, and community organizations around the U.S. and internationally. At the Immigration History Research Center, Lee has helped to pioneer new ways of merging immigration history with the digital humanities. She launched and oversees the National Endowment for the Humanities-funded Immigrant Stories Project which works with recent immigrants and refugees to collect, preserve, and share their experiences with a new multi-lingual digital story-telling website ( and archive. She also founded and directs the Immigrants in COVID America project, documenting the impact of the pandemic on immigrants and refugees ( and founded and co-organized the #ImmigrationSyllabus project (, a digital educational resource offering historical perspectives to contemporary immigration debates.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: History, University of California, 1998
  • B.A.: History and Cross-Cultural Studies, Tufts University, 1991 - none
  • M.A.: History, University of California, Berkeley, 1993 - none


  • 20th-century United States
  • Law and Public Policy
  • Migration, Race, and Ethnicity
  • Asian Americans