Seattle, Washington (December 13, 2017): When an elderly relative passes away their children often discover old letters or photos or other documents that shed light on the historical events that their family members lived through. Families often do not realize the historical value of this material or do not know what to do with them.
To address this issue, the Korean American Historical Society (KAHS) recently received a $12,000 Common Heritage grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to collect and preserve this kind of historical material. In partnership with The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience, KAHS will hold public events in the coming year where people can bring photos, documents or other artifacts to be scanned or photographed and preserved in the KAHS collection. The originals will be returned to the participants with a digital copy of their documents or photos as well as protective envelopes or folders and advice on preserving them.
According to Mel Kang, KAHS President, “The Korean experience in America is made up of simple, ordinary experiences as well as the dramatic. A letter from a daughter at college, the opening of a new business, the arrival of relatives from Korea are important pieces of our story. The goal of our project is to reach out to the Korean community and capture these treasures.”
Since 1985 KAHS has been collecting the oral histories of Korean immigrants. From 1985 to 2001 they published the journal Occasional Papers which contained many of the oral histories as well as academic articles. KAHS and The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience have partnered on many projects in the past. In this project, the materials that are collected will be made available to the public and scholars through the Wing Luke Museum’s Gary Locke Library and Community Heritage Center. More information is available by downloading The Collective Memory Project and visiting KAHS’ Facebook Page.
The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency created to preserve America’s rich cultural heritage, and encourage and support scholarship and innovation in the humanities. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. The Endowment awards grants to top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. Kang noted that, “The Common Heritage grant program is highly competitive and KAHS is very grateful for this award.”