Archives & Other Sources

If you are able to go to a physical archives to do research for this class, it important to know a few things about archives. Archives generally collect the papers of individuals and organizations. They are not like libraries that collect published materials, such as books and magazines. Archives collect as much of the writings and media of people and organizations that donate to them as they can, and the papers are rarely very organized (think of your own computer files). Archivists impose some kind of order on the collections, generally by time, although there might be other organization levels, as well. Just as archives collect different things than libraries, they also have different ways of showing researchers (you) what they have. Rather than searching a catalog that leads to a book, in archives, catalog searches generally lead to finding aids. Finding aids describe the collection; at a minimum, a finding aid tells you what is in the collection, how much of it there is (generally number of linear feet), and how it is organized (boxes and folders, digital files). Some finding aids have a lot of description and some are very scanty.

The best research guide for finding collections local to you is the Research Guide for Finding Archival and Manuscript Collections.

Online Collections to Investigate

Here are some collections worth investigating. They cover labor, migrants/civil rights, or both. They are spread around the country, but most have some digital materials.

Given the brevity of the summer semester and possible access issues due to Covid, many students may find it more useful to use digitized archival collections and other sources of information for their research.

Archive of Immigrant Voices

From the Center for Global Migration Studies, this is an oral history site that aims to collect stories of the experience of migration.

Asian American Movement 1968

From the archives of the Asian Community Center in San Francisco, for their 40th anniversary.

The Calisphere

A gateway to digital collections all over California. Contains images, sound, and text. Very rich and deep.

Densho Digital Archives's mission is..."To preserve and share history of the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans to promote equity and justice today."

Hoji Shinbun Digital Collection: Japanese Diaspora Initiative, Hoover Institution Library & Archives, Stanford University

Currently the world's largest archive of open-access, full image Japanese American and other overseas Japanese newspapers in Asia and South America.

Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive from the Calisphere

The Japanese American Relocation Digital Archives (JARDA) contains thousands of primary sources documenting Japanese American internment.

Korean American Digital Archives University of Southern California

Documents the Korean American community during the period of resistance to Japanese rule in Korea and reveal the organizational and private experience of Koreans in America between 1903 and 1965.

Out of the Desert, Yale University

This is an excellent interactive map of processing and interment camps of Japanese Americans during World War II. It is similar to a exhibit, but it displays primary source materials, which can be searched or used to find other material.

Pioneering Punjabis

Over 700 video interviews, speeches, diaries, photographs, articles, and letters in which Punjabi Americans share their life stories, values, and contributions to California’s history from 1899 to the present.

South Asian American Digital Archive

This site links aggregates and links to collections nationwide that have content about the South Asian immigrant experience. It is not exhaustive, but it is a good place to discover locations that have some content of interest, which might lead to more.

South East Asian Archive

UCI Libraries Southeast Asian Archive collects, preserves, and makes accessible primary and secondary source materials documenting the history of the Cambodian, Hmong, Laotian, and Vietnamese diaspora. Collection strengths include Southeast Asian American experiences of resettlement and community formations since the Vietnam War, Cambodian Genocide, and geopolitical turmoil in the former French-occupied "Indochina" in the latter half of the 20th century. 

Viet Stories at the Vietnamese American Oral History Project

Assembles, preserves, and disseminates the life stories of Vietnamese Americans in Southern California. The project contributes to expanding archives on Vietnamese Americans with the primary goal of capturing first-generation stories for students, researchers, and the community.

The Welga Project Digital Archive and Repository

Focuses on preserving and presenting the broad aspects of the Filipino American experience.

Finding Archival Collections

Here are three locations for finding archival collections (both digital and physical). The latter two are more difficult to search, and may not surface any digital collections, but may be useful if the physical collection is accessible.

SNAC (Social Networks in Archival Context)

SNAC focuses on the creators (people or organizations) of archival collections, and helps make connections between individuals and organizations. Searching on a topic will lead to a results list of persons, corporate bodies, and organizations related to that term, which will lead to collections of archival materials by that individual or group.


Contains catalog records of archival materials and finding aids. Digitized and microform collections are not included. Try this if you can not find anything digitized, but access to the collections may be an issue.

WorldCat/FirstSearch (remember to sign in to HOLLIS after you click on this link, before going to WorldCat)

FirstSearch is the version of WorldCat that is most effective for archival research. To search for Archival Material in WorldCat, go to Advanced Search.  Put your search terms in a search box then make sure you check Archival Materials in the "Limit type to:" box and search. (Limiting is necessary because WorldCat contains millions of records for books and other media which normally overwhelm the AM records.)