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September 2010  |  Return to issue home

South Asia Oral History Project Now Online

Participants in the South Asian Oral History Project.

Participants in the South Asian Oral History Project: Back row, from left: Rajinder Manhas, Prem Kumar, Dev Manhas, Zakir Parpia, Zafar Siddiqui. Front row, from left: Amy Bhatt, Shaila Kode, Santosh Wahi, Nazma Rizvi, Amy Lally, Owais Jaffrey and Deepa Banerjee, South Asian Studies librarian.*

In 2003, Irene Joshi, the UW's first South Asian Studies librarian, was concerned that historically important life stories were being lost as the first generation of post-World War II South Asian immigrants to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest started to reach the end of their lives. 

Thanks to her generous gift, the South Asia Oral History Project was born, and in 2004 and 2005, the first set of interviews was with individuals arriving in the Seattle area in the 1950s from South Asia.

They shared experiences such as working on the early Apollo space shuttle launches, joining the Peace Corps, attending the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, and being some of the earliest South Asian students enrolled at the University of Washington.

Subsequent phases feature subjects arriving in the Pacific Northwest in the 1960s and 70s, to work in aerospace and engineering; phase three interview are with subjects who immigrated in the 1980s, primarily to work in the high-tech field.

Deepa Bannerjee, South Asia Studies Librarian, worked with partners from the Jackson School of International Studies, the Museum of History and Industry, and Amy Bhatt, graduate student, to interview subjects. 

Angela Rosette-Tavares, Libraries' Digital Initiatives, has created an online digital database with audio, video where possible, transcripts as well as photos and biographical information about each of the subjects.

* Photo by John Pai

September 2010  |  Return to issue home

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