Southeast Asian Archive

Since the end of the Vietnam Conflict in 1975 a large number of refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam have come to the United States, and especially to California. In order to document their experiences in a new culture, the UC Irvine Libraries established the Southeast Asian Archive in 1987. The Archive's collection is broad and interdisciplinary in documenting the social, cultural, religious, political, and economic life of Americans of Southeast Asian origin. Strengths include materials relating to the resettlement of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants in the United States, refugee camp and other experiences of the "boat people" and land refugees, and the development and progress of new ethnic communities. There is a special focus on materials pertaining to Southeast Asian Americans in Orange County and California.

Note: The scope of the collection is limited to documenting the diasporic peoples from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos including self-identified Khmer Americans, Hmong Americans, Laotian Americans, Yao (Iu Mien) Americans, and ethnic and cultural minorities. We do not collect materials about the home countries. We also do not collect materials about all Southeast Asian immigrants (e.g., Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines or Singapore).

Holdings are in English and Southeast Asian languages, and include books, periodicals, refugee orientation publications, government documents, reports and surveys, newspaper clippings, video and audio recordings, personal and family papers, organizational records, oral histories, posters, photographs, ephemera, works of art, some artifacts, and dissertations and theses. 

To develop our archival and monographic holdings, we are actively trying to document the following topics related to the diasporic peoples of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos:

  • Refugee and immigrant resettlement experience 
  • Refugee camps
  • Visual arts and film
  • Performing arts (music, dance)
  • Politics, leadership, and activism
  • Social service providers
  • Health (including mental health) services
  • Education
  • Business and development
  • Literature
  • 1.5 generation and beyond
  • Cross-cultural interaction

Visit the Southeast Asian Archive collections in Special Collections & Archives and in the Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center.

Spotlight On:

SEAA Brochure

SEAA Brochure (Multilingual)
English (pdf)
Cambodian (pdf)
Hmong (pdf)
Lao (pdf)
Vietnamese (pdf)


Documenting the Southeast Asian American Experience (Digital Collection)