New Collections

Last January's positive article in the Los Angeles Times introduced the Southeast Asian Archive to a wider audience and resulted in a number of gifts to the collection. Three donations received from individuals who have been involved with Southeast Asian refugee resettlement complement each other in an especially meaningful way.

Mitchell Bonner has long been active in San Francisco's Lao community. The collection he donated to the Southeast Asian Archive contains many newspaper clippings (mainly 1980s and 1990s) from San Francisco area newspapers concerning Southeast Asian refugees and events in the home countries. Included also are programs of cultural events, such as the Kmhmu New Year Celebration of 1983 in Stockton and the 1991 & 1992 Local Cultures "Living Traditions of Southeast Asian Americans" at the Festival at the Lake in Oakland. Mr. Bonner's gift also contains issues of refugee publications from the Bay Area, such as Khmer News, The Tenderloin Times, materials relating to the San Francisco Refugee Forum, refugee orientation publications, ORR research studies, and U.S. government documents.

Guire John Cleary was assistant director of the Tolstoy Foundation in San Francisco from 1980-1983. He previously was active with Church World Service in 1979. With Ms. Jade Ngoc Le, the former director of the United States Catholic Conference transit center, his donation is given in memory of their friend and dedicated Lao community aide, Mr. Amphanphone Sivilay. Mr. Cleary's collection consists of a number of items used in Thai refugee camps left behind in 1979 by Hmong, Mien and ethnic Lao refugee families at San Francisco's Travelodge Transit Center. Among the artifacts are clothing, cooking pots and utensils, cultivation tools, hand forged scissors, fishing lines, refugee identification cards, an English language exercise book, and an I.C.E.M. plastic bag used to hold refugee x-rays and documentation.

Included in the papers and publications donated by Mr. Cleary are correspondence and documents on the Lao Temple Project, which concerned creation of a Lao cultural center and Thereavada Buddhist Temple in the Bay Area; a UC Berkeley student paper, "Unemployed Lao refugees in San Francisco," by Michael Stroud, and 32 copies of the National Geographic (1932-1982) which contain articles pertaining to Indochina.

Brigitte Marshall's collection of 21 photographs, taken in 1990-1991, beautifully document the Southeast Asian refugee camp experience. Her photographs show the realities and implications of everyday life of Hmong and Mien refugees in Chiang Kham and Ban Vinai refugee camps and the Phanat Nikhom Refugee Processing Center. She developed her photograph collection in order to provide service providers working with refugees some perspective for the challenges that faced refugees new to the United States.

The Southeast Asian Archive is indeed fortunate to have these collections. These gifts provide valuable resources for the research and teaching that will educate future generations as to the challenges faced by the many Southeast Asians who have resettled in the United States.