So the summer comes to an end, and I leave VC saddled with much more knowledge than I came here with. My ten weeks here flew by, and words cannot express enough how grateful I am to have gotten this experience. Not only did I learn so much about archives, I got to meet amazing people, including my fellow summer interns, Helen, and the rest of the staff.

I worked on so many different projects this summer that I feel like I truly got a well-rounded introduction to archives. I started out by learning the basics about metadata and archival practices before I got to apply those learnings to my work. I got to handle several types of audiovisual formats, something that I was really eager to do. I got to work with materials such as 3/4″ U-matic tapes, mini-DVs, cassette tapes, and VHS tapes. I even got a chance to go through the digitization process with the U-matic tapes to help complete the Amerasians: Media and the Arts collection that a previous intern worked on. For my final project, I got to encode two finding aids for the Willie Funakoshi Collection and the Little Tokyo Redevelopment Collection, which allowed me to contribute to the Online Archive of California! In addition to the archives experience, I was exposed to the valuable work a non-profit like VC does within the Asian American community.


After all this excitement, I have to leave and return to the world outside of VC, where I’ll be preparing for grad school (in information studies), returning to my work at the Special Collections Department at UCLA, and hopefully relaxing before school starts up again. No matter where I end up in the future, I know that my experiences will have a lasting impact on my life. Thanks for everything, Visual Communications! Let’s hope that this experience isn’t our last.

We are so pleased to announce that we have two new finding aids up on the Online Archive of California! Our Getty intern, Robin, deserves the credit for writing and encoding these finding aids.

The Willie Funakoshi Collection is a beautiful set of photos (that we’ve digitized) of the Nisei Week Queens and courts spanning three decades! Nisei Week is an annual festival held in Little Tokyo that was first organized by Nisei, or second-generation Japanese Americans, to celebrate their Japanese cultural heritage, and remains an active part of the Japanese American community. More detailed description, including interviewees and subjects covered, is on the finding aid. You can view a selection of these photographs on our Historypin channel.

Screen shot 2014-08-28 at 10.56.03 AM

The Little Tokyo Redevelopment Collection is a valuable treasure trove of footage covering the redevelopment of the Little Tokyo neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles. The Little Tokyo People’s Rights Organization (LTPRO) was founded in 1973 as a result of the Little Tokyo Project, which was adopted by the now-defunct Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles in order to redevelop the neighborhood. LTPRO challenged the ongoing evictions caused by the redevelopment efforts and assisted community businesses and long-time senior residents, who were in danger of displacement by transnational companies. It sought to maintain housing and sustainable living conditions for Japanese American working class people. 

The original format of the materials was 3/4″ U-matic tape, which we’ve all digitized. More detailed description, including interviewees, is available on the finding aid. Footage from this collection was used in Visual Communications’ film “Something’s Rotten in Little Tokyo.”  

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Check it out and share with any interested parties you know! As always, VC films are available for distribution. Researchers can view the footage and photos, along with any other materials from any of our other collections, in-house for no charge. Just make an appointment!

Omai Fa’atasi–meaning “come together” and “unite”–was the name of a Samoan community group based in Southern California. As of the 2010 census, nearly 30,000 of the 184,440 Samoans in the USA live in Southern California, making it one of the largest Samoan communities in the United States.  In 1978, VC released OMAI FA’ATASI: SAMOA MO SAMOA, a film depicting Samoan Americans living in the Carson/Long Beach area. We recently pinned a new Historypin collection showcasing the photos taken during the shoot of the film. Here’s a small selection of those photos:

Two Samoan girls

Two Samoan girls

Father with daughters

Father with daughters

Fire dance

Fire dance performance

Woman preparing food

Woman preparing food

For more photos, check out the Omai Fa’atasi Historypin collection!


picture_robinHello to everyone! My name is Robin Chang, and I’m fortunate enough to join Visual Communications this summer as an archival intern with the Getty Multicultural Program. I currently attend UCLA, where I am pursuing two degrees in Asian American Studies and Asian Studies. Some of my interests include Korean diaspora studies, Korean folklore, and integrating what I’ve learned into my fiction writing. I’m presently looking into graduate school to work towards becoming an archivist, and hopefully one day, an author.

For quite a few years now, I’ve been actively pursuing ways to contribute to equitable portrayals of Asian American people in different forms of media. However, it was only when I started working at UCLA’s Department of Special Collections that I realized what a precious resource archives are—not only to researchers and scholars, but also to anyone and everyone who’s utilized information services. Like many people, it had never fully occurred to me that someone was organizing the information neatly stacked in the library catalogs. Unfortunately, I also came to the realization that there are very few collections dedicated to Asian American experiences. Hearing that VC had collections on Asian American histories, I knew that I couldn’t miss out on this opportunity.

During my time here, I would like most to learn the practices and knowledge required for sustainable preservation of materials regarding Asian Pacific American Experiences. The archival knowledge that I have so far has only barely scratched the surface and has largely been in an academic, research-oriented setting, so I look forward to working with Helen, VC’s own archivist, to gain a perspective on the value of archives in grassroots organizations like VC. I really appreciate the opportunity that’s been afforded to me, and plan on making the most of the experience with Helen and the rest of the staff and interns this summer. Keep an eye out for more things to come!

A small selection of VC’s audiovisual materials are now digitized and up on the web!  Last November, VC joined the California Audiovisual Preservation Project as a partner institution to work towards the goal of digitizing and preserving California-based historical recordings. We’re extremely honored to be a part of this Project, and look forward to sharing our materials online!

To participate in the project, VC went had to go through several steps. It wasn’t an automatic process– all materials had to be nominated, and then accepted for inclusion and digitization.  The first step was for us to identify and prioritize materials appropriate for the project.  Because CAVPP’s California Light and Sound project is rooted in California-based subjects and events, we had to choose materials that were California-specific. Although we have certain moving image materials that are worthy of digitization, they didn’t meet the California subject requirement.  Another important factor was to nominate materials that we couldn’t digitize in-house. While we have digitization capabilities for a number of formats, we didn’t have an easy way to digitize 16mm film and 1/8″ audiocassette tapes.  With the resources of the CAVPP, that wasn’t a problem.  We ended up choosing a total of five selections, comprised of multiple tapes/reels, and started the nomination process through the Internet Archive site, which hosts all the CAVPP materials.  The nomination process included entering metadata (data about data), both descriptive (subjects, topics, dates, interviewer, etc.) and technical (format, sound, etc.) The more metadata included, the better! The more information available lends to a better contextual understanding of the materials.

After the nomination process, we were notified which materials were accepted into the program (spoiler alert: all of them!). Five of VC’s AV materials is now part of the California Light and Sound Collection and hosted on the Internet Archive, available online to anyone! Check out the listings below, and follow the links to the videos and audio!

Little Tokyo 1930s Home Movie (1934)

Description: Home movie of pre-World War II Los Angeles, including the Little Tokyo neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Harbor. Footage documents Downtown Los Angeles night traffic, the annual Nisei Week Parade in Little Tokyo, ships at the harbor, and construction. This internegative was obtained through a restoration process performed on the original 1930s 16mm film.

1930s Little Tokyo Nisei Week Parade

1930s Little Tokyo Nisei Week Parade

Military Intelligence Service Oral Histories (March 11, 1989)

Additional Title:: Saga of the MIS
Description: These oral histories are recordings of a panel featuring Japanese American World War II veterans who served in the Military Intelligence Service, the army’s unit of Japanese Americans that provided translation and interrogation services. Speakers talk about their experiences that range from family life, Pearl Harbor, being incarcerated in the internment camps, joining the military, training for the Military Intelligence Service, and serving in combat in the South Pacific.  Nearly all of these MIS panelists were born and raised in California.

Susan Ahn Cuddy Oral Histories (1996)

Description: This footage is an oral history of Susan Ahn Cuddy, who was born in Los Angeles and the first Korean American woman in the U.S. Navy. he is the daughter of Dosan Chang Ho Ahn and Helen Ahn, prominent Korean independence activists.  Cuddy and her family were one of the first Korean families in Los Angeles.  Cuddy joined the navy in 1942 and went on to become a lieutenant.  She later worked at the Office of Naval Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and the Library of Congress.  She attended UC Irvine.

Susan Ahn Cuddy

Susan Ahn Cuddy

Colonel Young Oak Kim Oral History (February 4, 1986)

Description: This oral history is of Colonel Young Oak Kim, a highly decorated World War II veteran. He was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the Bunker Hill area of Downtown. He and his family were one of the first Korean families in Los Angeles. During WWII, he fought with the 100th Infantry Battalion, a segregated unit of Japanese Americans from Hawaii. He was the only non-Japanese American. He later rejoined the army to fight in the Korean War.  Kim was the Asian American to command a regular U.S. combat battalion. He was active with community work and helped establish Go For Broke and the Japanese American National Museum, and served as a board member for Visual Communications.

Filipino American Home Movies (1950s)

Description: These 16mm reels from the 1950s are Kodachrome home movies of a Filipino American family in California and Hawai’i. Footage was taken by George Cayetano. Footage includes arrival of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Former President and First Lady of the Philippines, at Hickam Field in Honolulu, Hawai’i. Footage also covers the Filipino-American farming community in Delano, California, documenting farming life, community festivals and parades, family life, and social gatherings like a Filipino Debut, a coming-of-age ceremony.

Chinatown: Portrait of a Working Community 

Description: 1977 film about the changing landscape of San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Produced during a volatile period in which community re-development initiatives in most U.S. urban centers threatened the unique community fabric of various ethnic communities, CHINATOWN: PORTRAIT OF A WORKING COMMUNITY juxtaposes the vivacity of the people, businesses and community institutions of one of California’s first and arguably, largest Chinatowns against the violent closure, in August 1977, of the International Hotel, a low-income hotel abutting Chinatown along Kearny and Jackson Streets. Filmed footage of the evictions, a watershed moment in the Asian American progressive movement, was later repurposed by its photographer Curtis Choy for his own landmark 1983 documentary of the incident, THE FALL OF THE I-HOTEL.

Chinatown: Portrait of a Working Community

Chinatown: Portrait of a Working Community

The CAVPP project was made possible with grants from the institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment of the Humanities, and the California State Library.  Thanks so much for helping small institutions like VC make our materials accessible and discoverable to the public!

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