Oral histories from Chinese-Americans living in Augusta now available

The Digital Library of Georgia (DLG) is pleased to announce the availability of the Augusta Chinese-American Oral History Project at https://dlg.usg.edu/collection/gaec_caoh. The collection, which belongs to the Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System (ARCPLS), contains 26 oral history interviews of of individuals who either immigrated to Augusta, Georgia from China, and/or grew up in Augusta during the early to mid-twentieth century. It is available thanks in part to the DLG’s 2018 Competitive Digitization grant program, a funding opportunity intended to broaden DLG partner participation for statewide historic digitization projects.

The interviews were gathered in 2011 and 2012 by members of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of Augusta (CCBA), with ARCPLS serving as a partner institution. The original intent of the project was to create an archive of stories and personal family histories of a select group of individuals, mostly elders within the Augusta Chinese-American community to preserve for future generations, particularly for the younger members of the community. By making the oral histories easily accessible online, younger generations are more likely to seek out information regarding their heritage.

ARCPLS Genealogy and Local History Librarian Tina Monaco notes: “Because of the variety of topics discussed by those interviewed, the oral histories appeal to a broad number of researchers, social historians, those tracing their family histories, and students. Anyone interested in studying immigration, minority cultures, economic history, race relations, or the establishment of Chinese-American organizations in the South will find the interviews informative.”

Monaco also states: “Several of the interviewees discuss family-owned businesses that opened in predominantly African-American neighborhoods in Augusta during the Jim Crow era. Whites in Augusta refused to provide services to African-Americans, thereby opening a window of opportunity, which Augusta’s Chinese-Americans took advantage of by opening successful groceries, restaurants, and laundry establishments, a few of which were damaged or destroyed during the Augusta Race Riots of 1970. This dynamic would be a rich area of study for both social scientists and historians concerned with the interaction of social and economic factors among minority and discriminated populations in the Jim Crow South. Finally, these stories offer a fresh voice to the complex narrative of southern history, one that speaks to the diversity and multiculturalism of the South.”

Travis Tom, curator of the Augusta Chinese-American Oral History project and board member of the CCBA notes: “We are hoping that the oral histories reach a wider audience–across the nation and perhaps the world–and educates those interested in how Chinese Americans settled in Augusta, Georgia (the Southeast) and started their lives. It is important that we recorded these stories to show how people in our community lived during our time (early 1900s-2011). We encourage other groups to do the same.”

About Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System

The Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System (ARCPLS) is a public library system serving more than 250,000 county residents. As a member of Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES), a program of the Georgia Public Library Service covering 53 library systems in 143 Georgia counties, ARCPLS supports any resident in the PINES network and provides access to over 10 million books. ARCPLS has a collection size of over 316,000 with a circulation of more than 478,000 annually. ARCPLS facilitates programs and classes to educate and entertain all ages at no cost. In addition to being a vital meeting place where the community can gather, explore new worlds, and share ideas and values, ARCPLS is a community hub and a critical anchor for our residents and neighbors. With a committed and diverse staff, ARCPLS continues to bring innovative and adaptive information and technology to its patrons. Visit ARCPLS at https://arcpls.org/

About the Digital Library of Georgia

Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia https://dlg.usg.edu is a GALILEO initiative that collaborates with Georgia’s libraries, archives, museums, and other institutions of education and culture to provide access to key information resources on Georgia history, culture, and life. This primary mission is accomplished through the ongoing development, maintenance, and preservation of digital collections and online digital library resources. DLG also serves as Georgia’s service hub for the Digital Public Library of America and as the home of the Georgia Newspaper Project, the state’s historic newspaper microfilming project.

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The Southern Voice Newspaper Collection, 1988-1995

Southern Voice, April 12, 1990. Southern Voice newspaper collection, 1988-1995, Kennesaw State University Archives.
Southern Voice, April 12, 1990. Southern Voice newspaper collection, 1988-1995, Kennesaw State University Archives.

We are excited to announce the availability the Southern Voice newspaper collection, 1988-1995 thanks to our partners at Kennesaw State University (KSU) Archives.

The Southern Voice newspaper, also known as SOVO, was an alternative news source for lesbians and gay men in the greater Atlanta area and Southeast for over 20 years. The paper was founded in 1988 by Christina Cash and Leigh VanderEls with a bi-weekly circulation of 5,000 copies. Southern Voice provided coverage of local and national events, editorials, and guides to local arts and entertainment. Circulation grew to 15,000 within two years, reaching a maximum readership of 100,000 during the 2000s. KSU Archives researchers have used the Southern Voice collection for exhibits, and class projects. Now, users of the Digital Library of Georgia and DPLA will be able to research local Georgia history, journalism, LGBT rights, and other issues.

Heather Oswald, Archivist and Coordinator of Outreach in the KSU Archives has been working with the Southern Voice collection since its initial donation, placing emphasis on making the paper as widely available as possible. She notes: “Southern Voice grew out of the need for a dedicated news source for the LGBT community following the 1987 March on Washington. From its initial publication in 1988, it functioned as one of the only papers targeted toward LGBT issues in the southeast, providing information on topics such as the fight against AIDS, marriage equality, discrimination, and violence against gay individuals. In addition, it provided alternative perspectives on major issues to those presented by the mainstream media. ”

The KSU Archives is working to locate, preserve, and digitize a complete run of the paper. Although they acquired a significant number of Southern Voice issues from donor David McLaughlin, they are still seeking a number of issues. Oswald has worked with colleagues from Atlanta-area institutions to help fill in gaps in the collection; these partners include the Atlanta History Center, Georgia State University, and Emory University. If you, or anyone you know, may have held on to back issues of the Southern Voice, please contact the KSU Archives at archives@kennesaw.edu. For information on the specific issues the KSU Archives is missing, visit https://archives.kennesaw.edu/lgbtq-publications-collection.

We hope that you enjoy this important new resource!

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