New Finding Aid: Asian-American and Pacific-Islander Resources

This is a guest post by Andrew Gaudio, reference librarian and classics, medieval studies and linguistics specialist in the Humanities and Social Sciences Division.

A 1943 photograph by Ansel Adams of the Catholic church at the Manzanar Relocation Center in California. It was one of the camps where the U.S. government detained Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The Library of Congress collects materials on most subjects, excluding agriculture and medicine. In a collection of over 160 million items, finding what you are looking for can be challenging. To help you better navigate collections on Asian-American and Pacific-Islander resources—and to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month—the Humanities and Social Sciences Division has created a new research guide.

It functions as an entry point for researchers seeking materials in multiple formats on Asian-American and Pacific-Islander studies and related resources at the Library. The types of resources covered in the guide—including both print and online materials—range from special collections containing photographs, diary entries and recorded interviews to monographs, reference works and serials. They are housed within reading rooms throughout the Library, including the Main Reading Room, the Asian Reading Room, the Manuscript Reading Room, the Prints and Photographs Reading Room and the Microform Reading Room.

For me, two online collections, both referenced in the guide, are especially striking. They document life for Japanese-Americans in World War II internment camps. Photographer Ansel Adams shot hundreds of images at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California, including the photo at the top of this post. He donated the collection to the Library in the 1960s, placing no copyright restrictions on their use. And just this month, the Library placed online a collection of newspapers published in internment camps from 1942 to 1946.

To learn about many other notable Asian-American and Pacific-Islander resources at the Library, consult the guide!

On a side note, did you ever wonder why May is designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month? The answer is rooted in 19th-century American history. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrants arrived in the United States. Then, on May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed, largely by Chinese laborers. With these events in mind, New York representative Frank Horton and California representative Norman Mineta introduced a resolution in June 1977 to mark the first 10 days of the month as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week. Congress passed the resolution, and President Jimmy Carter approved it on October 5, 1978. In 1990, George H. W. Bush signed a bill to extend Asian-American Heritage Week to a month that year. Two years later, he signed Public Law 102-450, which officially designated May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

For more information, visit the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month portal.


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