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Asian American Experience: Oral Histories

This guide presents sample oral history resources for the course Asian American Experience. Fall 2014. Professor Allan P. Isaac. American Studies Department.

Oral Histories

Oral Histories are first-hand accounts and as such, primary source materials.

Examples of oral histories include:

  • Interviews
  • Speeches
  • Story telling
  • etc.

Oral History Collections

This selection of oral histories is limited to collections that make videos, audios and/or full transcripts available on the Web: 

Chinese Laundries in Massachusets Oral History Project. Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Interviews of Chinese Americans who owned, or whose parents owned a laundry in Massachusetts. Transcripts available only.

Densho: the Japanese American Legacy Project. With more than 750 video interviews, it is one of the largest digital archives of the Japanese American internment. You need to register to acess the archives. 

Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project. Showcases Seattle's Filipino Cannery Union activists. The link Asian American Issues, on the left hand side, leads to Seattle's  Asian Americans civil rights activists. Video available. 

South Asian Oral History Project. Based at the University of Washington in Seattle, it captures the narratives of South Asian immigrants in the Pacific Northwest. Video and audio available.

Vietnamese American Oral History Project: Life Stories of Vietnamese-Americans in Southern California. This oral history project is based at UC Irvine in California. Audio files with transcripts. 

University of Hawaii, Manoa. College of Social Sciences, Center for Oral History. Includes oral histories of Native Hawaiians, African Americans and Japanese Okinawans. Transcripts available. 

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral Histories. Transcripts available.  Go to Browse > Nationality and Cultural Heritage to select specific groups, such as Chinese, Korean, etc. 

Oral History Online. Transcripts avaiable. 

  • Go to "Search Interviews" > Place of Birth (e.g. China, Vietnam) 
  • Go to "Find Collections" > Under Collection name, click on "Terms" for collections > (e.g. Asians in Minnesota Oral History Projects) 

New Jersey: Seabrook Community

New Jersey Digital Highway. A digital collection of immigrants in New Jersey, including the Seabrook community, where approximately 2,500 people of Japanese descent resettled after their internment. (photos, "I remember..." short essays," documents, etc.) Select "Seabrook Educational Center" from the collections list and search. 

 Buddist Wedding at Seabook. New Jersey Digital Highway Seabrook Collection. 1940s?

New Jersey and Rutgers

Chinese Exclusion Law in New Jersey: Immigration Law in the Past and Present. The exhibit focuses on the period of Chinese Exclusion that lasted from 1882-1943 and was curated by students in a research course taught by Prof. Andy Urban, American Studies and History Departments. 

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