East Asia Library Oral History Project at the University of Washington Libraries
History through Memories and Stories:
Exploring Seattle’s Chinese Immigrant Experiences
This oral history project documents the life and experiences of Seattle’s Chinese immigrant community from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mainland China, and other areas of the world. Chinese immigrants came from very diverse social and economic backgrounds. Their decisions to come to the U.S. and their American experiences were significantly shaped by the political, economic, and social developments of their times. This project aims to create an archive for use by future scholars that provides a balanced representation of the various groups of Chinese immigrants from different geographical areas and historical periods.
“History through Memory and Stories” was initiated by the Director of the UW East Asia Library Zhijia Shen in the summer of 2014. She is the project’s principle investigator and director. The project team further consists of an oral history team leader, a technology manager, a communications manager, and research assistants. All team members serve as oral historians and carry out interviews. There is also an advisory committee consisting of community leaders.Further information on the project staff and their backgrounds is available on the website at http://depts.washington.edu/oralhist.
Project staff training:
All of the members of the History Through Memories and Stories team have received oral history training from Lorraine McConaghy, a historian at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle and the 2010 recipient of the Washington State Historical Society’s Robert Gray Medal for her valuable contributions to the documentation of the history of the Pacific Northwest. Ms. McConaghy will continue to advise the team going forward.
As this project aims to produce primary source materials for future scholars and researchers, we are committed to adhering to the highest standards.
Protocol for interviews and documentation:
Interviews may take place on the UW campus or at the narrator’s home. (Narrator is the term used by oral historians for the person being interviewed.) An interview session will typically last two hours and there may be multiple sessions as needed. At the beginning of each interview, the oral historian will take three photographs of the interviewee and interviewer. Interviews will either be in English or in Mandarin Chinese. The entire interview session will be recorded and later transcribed in the language in which the interview was conducted. A video recording of the interview will also be produced.
Interview recordings and transcripts, photos, as well as family papers and artifacts, will be archived in the UW Libraries Special Collections. Digital content of the oral history interviews will be made available through a portal to be developed by the Digital Initiative of UW Libraries, and linked to the project website and the website of the East Asia Library.
Each month the University of Washington East Asia Library hosts a Community Forum for members of Seattle’s Taiwanese and Chinese community. These forums have multiple purposes. They are an opportunity for the community members to share their stories and experiences with one another, to receive updates on the progress of the History Through Memories and Stories project and contribute their insights, and to learn from and exchange knowledge with guest speakers—who may be academics, oral historians, and community leaders with relevant specialized knowledge. The event is held in Mandarin Chinese and is open to the public. Tea and snacks are provided.
A note of gratitude:
The History through Memories and Stories team would like to express its deep gratitude to the members of the Chinese and Taiwanese community. This project would not be possible without you.
Contact Information:Phone: (206)543-5635
Website: depts.washington.edu/oralhist East Asia Library
322 Gowen Hall
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195-3521