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Family Day participants, April 2024. Photo courtesy Stan Murgolo/Library of Congress.

Join Us for Family Days at the Library: Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month on May 11th

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This post was written by Dianne Choie, Educational Programs Specialist at the Library of Congress.

Visit Us in Person

On Saturday, May 11th, the Library of Congress’ Informal Learning Office (ILO) continues a series of monthly, in-person family programs. We look forward to welcoming you to this special opportunity to enjoy creative activities while learning more about America’s national library.

This month we are focusing on sharing family narratives while gaining inspiration from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) stories in the Library’s collection. Explore our “story garden” to read about the experiences of AAPI individuals from a variety of backgrounds, interests, and locations. Use these descriptions to spark creative writing, drawing, and conversations to tell your own family stories. Then take home a guide to dig deeper with interviews recording your family’s oral histories.

Several people in traditional robes sitting on the ground in front of decorations and platters of food.
Wedding of Pen Hing and Sopheap Kuth, at residence of Chhoun Chen, Lowell, Massachusetts. John Lueders-Booth, 1987. (Lowell Folklife Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).

This free, drop-in program will run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The activities are designed for kids and their families, but all ages are welcome to join. There is no charge for the event, but you will need to pre-register for free passes for entry. A limited number of walk-up tickets are available daily.

Family Day will also feature a Mask-Making Workshop with Library of Congress Innovator in Residence Jeffrey Yoo Warren from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room LJ-119. This event requires a free special event ticket. Register Here. 

Author, actor, and civil rights advocate George Takei will discuss his new book My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story at 2 p.m. Book sales and signing to follow. This event requires a free special event ticket. Register Here.

ADA accommodations can be requested five business days in advance at 202-707-6363 or by emailing [email protected].

A black and white photo of a group of children playing outdoors.
School picnic, First Korean School, Silver Spring, Maryland. Lucy M. Long, 1982. (Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).

Join In from Home

If you can’t visit us for the May 11th program in person, you can still participate! Keep reading for additional resources to explore the Library of Congress from home.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community includes people with heritage from across the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands. Hundreds of languages and dialects are spoken throughout this area, and as people have moved and immigrated to the United States and elsewhere, languages and cultures have expanded and changed.

A black and white video of students smiling in front of a chalkboard.
Classroom scenes, Khmer Village School, Houston, Texas. Frank Proschan, 1982. (Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).

It’s not possible to fully represent all the identities and experiences in the AAPI community in one short blog post, but the Library of Congress has many resources that represent a rich sampling. Below is a guide to exploring some of the AAPI stories in the collections. Hopefully, learning about these different aspects of family, culture, language, celebration, and more will inspire you to record and share your own family’s experiences and perspectives.

The American Folklife Center (AFC) at the Library of Congress “documents and shares the many expressions of human experience to inspire, revitalize, and perpetuate living cultural traditions.” The AFC collection has a treasure trove of AAPI materials, many of which are available online. The AFC site also lists AAPI-related blog posts, podcast episodes, and public program videos on its AAPI “Related Online Resources” page. Here are a few highlights from the many AAPI materials in the AFC collection:

  • Hear interviews with Japanese American family David, Yoshiko, and Iyo Nagashima about their farm in Billings, Montana and see photographs of them at home to learn about Japanese traditions in Montana.
An elderly Asian woman in a blue dress shows off vegetables.
Iyo Nagashima. Kay Young, 1979. (Montana Folklife Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).
A woman in traditional Korean dress sits with Korean instruments.
Mrs. Bong Hee (Ma) Stephens, Korean dancer, Arlington, Illinois. Jonas Dovydenas, 1977. (Chicago Ethnic Arts Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).
Classroom scenes, First Korean School, Silver Spring, Maryland. Lucy M. Long, 1982. (Ethnic Heritage and Language Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).

The Veterans History Project (VHP) collects many stories from the AAPI community. Here are some you might enjoy exploring:

The Prints & Photographs Division has many images featuring members of the AAPI community. Explore some of them below:

Black and white photograph of Anna May Wong.
Anna May Wong, 1934. (Prints & Photographs, Library of Congress).
  • View Ansel Adams’s Photographs of Japanese American Internment at Manzanar.
  • This blog post shares the fascinating story of how the Japanese American subject of a Dorothea Lange photo was identified by librarian Kara Chittenden as Shizuko Ina. Ina’s grandson, the artist Adrian Tomine created a print based on the photo of his grandmother that was added to the Library’s collection.
  • The Library of Congress has posted photos of Japanese Americans before and during World War II on its Flickr page, asking for help with identifying the photos’ subjects. Thanks to information that was subsequently shared, two photographs now have updated information in their Library listings: here and here.

The Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress holds Asian American and Pacific Islander Materials that include ceramicist and memoirist Jade Snow Wong’s papers, activist and author Betty Lee Sung’s papers, and the Asian Adoptee Archive with materials from author Mei-Ling Hopgood.

We hope you enjoy delving into some of the AAPI stories in the Library of Congress collection! Record some of your own family’s stories with help from StoryCorps. The thousands of stories that this organization has collected nationwide are archived at the Library of Congress and available on the StoryCorps website. If you’d like, find instructions for adding your stories to the archive here.

Whether you can join us on May 11th or not, we hope you have fun exploring AAPI stories in the Library’s collections and documenting your own stories with your family!

Many thanks to the following librarians for their invaluable research help: Melanie Zeck in the American Folklife Center, Pang Xiong and Edith Sandler in the Manuscript Reading Room, and Kara Chittenden in Prints & Photographs.

Kindergarten assembly, First Korean School Silver Spring, Maryland. Lucy M. Long, 1982. (Ethnic Heritage and Language Schools in America Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress).

Note: An earlier version of this blog post did not include additional information on the Prints & Photographs catalog. 



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