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Monochrome image with large locomotive in foreground, workers in background
Chinese workers near Gold Run, 65 miles from Sacramento in summer 1866. Betty Lee Sung Collection, AAPI Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

New Guide Highlights Asian American and Pacific Islander Collections

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This guest post is by Manuscript Division reference librarian Edith Sandler.

In November 2023, the Manuscript Division gratefully accepted custody of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Collection in a transfer from the Asian Division, where the collection was first established in 2007 following a mandate and annual appropriation from Congress. A new online guide to Asian American and Pacific Islander Materials in the Manuscript Division describes the individual collections that make up the larger AAPI collection and provides details on how researchers can access material.

Before arriving in the Manuscript Division, the AAPI collection had grown to include approximately three dozen archival collections representing Asian American authors, scholars, artists, activists, and organizations. This includes author and ceramic artist Jade Snow Wong, sociologist and historian Betty Lee Sung, social worker Royal F. Morales, graphic artist James Miho, and organizations like Mu Performing Arts, the QBD Ink Theater Group, and the Organization of Pan Asian American Women.

Blue and white yearbook-style cover, with large image of fish at center
International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union Local 37 yearbook, 1952. Carlos Bulosan Collection, AAPI Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress.

Each of these collections contains unique material, including correspondence, manuscript drafts, diaries, photographs, organizational records, interviews, and speeches. Much of the material is in English, although some material is in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and other South Asian and Southeast Asian languages.

Colorful books and magazines laid out on table
U.S. and international editions of “Fifth Chinese Daughter.” Manuscript Division, Library of Congress. Photo by Shawn Miller. Privacy and publicity rights for individuals depicted may apply.

While some finding aids for individual collections are available online and are linked from the catalog record, others exist only in an unpublished draft form, and still other collections await more detailed description. The new guide to Asian American and Pacific Islander Materials in the Manuscript Division notes which collections have finding aids, and interested researchers are welcome to request draft copies of finding aids in progress. All collections described by the online guide are accessible to researchers in the Manuscript Reading Room.

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