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Unique Archival Resources Document Southeast Asian Diaspora

Thanks to two competitive grants awarded to the UCI Libraries, more than 150 shelf feet of unique archival collections in the Southeast Asian Archive are now available for research. Materials include poignant letters written by desperate refugees fleeing the former Indochina, photographs documenting both transitionary life in resettlement camps and new lives in California, deeply moving works of art expressing the refugees’ emotions and experiences, and records of resettlement organizations.

The Libraries received $208,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and $65,000 from the California State Library to organize and catalog all of the unpublished materials in the Archive’s nationally-renowned collections. In addition to the work already finished, 200 additional feet of materials will be available by the end of the NEH grant in April 2005. The collections are international in scope, but their greatest strength is in documenting the resettlement of Indochinese refugees to California, which has become home to more than 700,000 Southeast Asian immigrants since 1975.

Grant funds enabled production of an Archive brochure, which is available in English and four Southeast Asian languages: Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and Hmong. Copies were mailed to all public libraries in California, as well as to several hundred organizations and individuals involved with refugee and immigrant communities, in order to publicize the Archive’s mission to document this new segment of the Asian American community.

The NEH grant also funded development of a sophisticated Web resource on Southeast Asian Americans that will include digitized versions of 5,000 textual and visual items from the Archive’s collections. The resource will be of broad value for development of K-14 curricular units focused on issues relating to the Southeast Asian diaspora, the aftermath of the Vietnam War, social issues pertaining to refugees and immigrants, American ethnic communities, and other topics supported by the Archive’s resources. A board of scholars, led by Assistant Professor of Asian American Studies Linda Vo, is working with Library staff to develop a thematic framework for the resource, which will be available on the Web in mid-2005.

For more information about the grants, contact Jackie Dooley (jmdooley@uci.edu, x44935). For copies of the Archive brochure or information about the collections, contact Anne Frank (afrank@uci.edu, x44968).


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