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The Libraries Contribute to the Vietnamese American Oral History Project

Vietnamese Americans in Southern California have many compelling stories to share about living in Vietnam, fleeing their homeland, and rebuilding their lives in the United States. With help from an anonymous donor, UCI's School of Humanities has launched a project to assemble and record oral histories of Vietnamese Americans in Southern California. The Libraries' Southeast Asian Archive and the Digital Scholarship Service are essential collaborators to ensure this material will be accessible for generations to come.oral

The Libraries will ensure that the interviews are preserved and made available online through UCIspace @ the Libraries. Researchers will be able to listen to the audio recordings, read transcripts or translations, and view photographs or other mementos donated by the narrators. As part of the Libraries' Digital Scholarship Services, Libraries staff are helping project director Thuy Vo Dang create archival-quality recordings and describe the interviews so they may be easily discoverable on the web. Research Librarian for the Southeast Asian Archive, Christina Woo, and Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship, Michelle Light, serve on the advisory board for the project.

The oral histories are also an important acquisition for the Libraries' internationally renowned Southeast Asian Archive. The Southeast Asian Archive is committed to documenting and preserving the Vietnamese American experience. This project will give voice to a diversity of experiences that might not otherwise be captured for posterity. Vo Dang notes, "It is commonly understood that 'history' privileges major events, general trends, and notable leaders. The personal, intimate, and every-day forms of knowledge and experiences of any particular time period would be lost without life stories preserved by projects such as the VAOHP." She hopes that the project will help later generations "understand how Vietnamese Americans lived, what they lost, how they rebuilt, what they passed on, and most importantly, what their lives can illuminate about the major events and trends of official 'history.'" The Southeast Asian Archive is a fitting, permanent home for these stories.

For more information about this project, see the VAOHP site. Contact Michelle Light, Head of Special Collections, Archives, and Digital Scholarship (x47193 or michelle.light@uci.edu) for more information about the Libraries' role in the project or how the Libraries might help you with your digital scholarship needs.


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