In 2009, researchers Andrew Flinn, Mary Stevens, and Elizabeth Shepherd said, “The defining characteristic of community archives is the active participation of a community in documenting and making accessible their history of their particular group and/or locality on their own terms.”
Michelle Caswell expanded on this definition in her book “Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work” by saying, “Another important distinction needs to be made between community archives in which community members have autonomy over archival practices, and extractive collective practices by which mainstream institutions collect materials from oppressed communities without entering into an ongoing relationship of care.”
As Asian Americans, our culture and stories have been historically extracted, exotified, and commodified. For centuries, our experiences have been misused to support dominant false narratives or erased and ignored altogether. Dallas Asian American Historical Society’s mission to preserve our legacy is rooted in the belief that our stories not only have value, but deserve to be told and safeguarded first by our own community.
We work with fellow community members to digitize their physical artifacts for our freely accessible online collection and offer preservation supplies and resources, so they can retain ownership and keep their family’s legacy alive. For those who choose to donate artifacts, we are currently looking for an institutional partner who can store and preserve them for students/researchers after the items have been added to our online archives, but will always be publicly accessible.
As #GivingTuesday approaches, we appreciate any financial support that can go towards subscription and storage costs for our online collection, but most importantly, please consider giving back to the community through your stories and memories. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed about our next digitizing and storytelling events or contact us and schedule an appointment to preserve your artifacts. Our legacy is here. Help us amplify it.