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.
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.”
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
Father with daughters
Fire dance performance
Woman preparing food
For more photos, check out the Omai Fa’atasi Historypin collection!
By Eddie Wong, Founder and Archives Advisory Board Member
In the early days of Visual Communications, we went out to community events and simply shot what was interesting to us. On a cool January evening in 1973, I went to the LA Chinese New Year’s Parade and was mesmerized by the Chinese Drum and Bugle Corps aka the LA Chinese Imperial Dragons. I wondered why would parents want their children to be in something as regimented and militaristic such as a marching band. This led me to meet the parents and teens in the group, who were very receptive to the idea of having a VC film crew document them in 1974.
What started out as a cine-verite look at a Chinese American marching band became a film essay on the Chinese American middle class. The title of the documentary “Chinatown Two-Step” alludes to the movement of generation of poor Chinatown kids who grew up during the Depression to become more economically secure, thoroughly Americanized folk. Becoming middle class professionals meant moving out of Chinatown and to suburbia where there were opportunities for their kids to socialize with other Chinese Americans. Thus, for the children, drum corps provided a pre-mating dance of sorts.
If you’ve been to Grand Central Market, you’ve been to an interesting, and historic, LA landmark. Located in Downtown’s Historic Core district, the Market is LA’s first open air market, housed in the first concrete and reinforced structure in LA. When you visit, it sometimes can feel like you’re traveling through time– the Market has a distinct character that’s very much its own. Inside you can find a variety of foods that makes it hard to choose what to order for lunch– tacos, Chinese, sandwiches, etc. That variety is what makes the market so fun– in fact, we take our interns there on special field trips– we all choose whatever food we want, and then we walk across the street to Angels Flight and ride the trolley up to California Plaza.
We just pinned a Historypin collection of photos of Grand Central Market from the 1970s. Here’s a preview:
Hope you check out the rest on the Historypin page!
Thanks to the NSA, metadata is no longer a nebulous term. Metadata, or data about data, is a necessary component to provide contextual information about an item– it’s the “aboutness” of something. It’s so important to have. When you don’t have metadata, you just don’t have much.
The thing with metadata is that you can never really have enough. The more, the merrier. A more detailed description of an event helps contextualize those photos and demystify them to viewers. It’s not good enough to assume that photos of a Chinese ping pong team is of the 1984 Olympic Games when it’s really the thawing of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. in the 1970s.
That’s where Eddie Wong, (VC founder and current archives advisory board member) comes in. After leaving VC and moving to the San Francisco Bay area, Eddie became the Executive Director at the Center for Asian American Media and later at the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. This week, we had the pleasure of having Eddie at the VC office to assist us with some missing metadata for select photo collections. Thanks so much, Eddie! You’ve demystified some mysteries for us. Until next time!
Eddie Wong, VC Founder, with a poster of his 1970s-self. Don’t worry, the original photo isn’t faded– the poster just faded from exposure to sunlight.