Augusta Chinese-American Oral History Project

October 16, 2018

WRITER: Mandy Mastrovita, mastrovi@uga.edu, 706-583-0209
CONTACT: Sheila McAlister, mcalists@uga.edu, 706-542-5418

ATLANTA, Ga. — 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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