SAADA Awarded NEH Common Heritage Grant

DECEMBER 14, 2015


"… everyday community history is important history."

December 14, 2015 (Philadelphia, PA) – Today, SAADA and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced that SAADA has been awarded a Common Heritage grant of $12,000 to host two digitization events in the Los Angeles area in May 2016.

SAADA is the South Asian American Digital Archive, the only national organization that digitally documents, preserves, and shares stories of South Asian Americans, giving voice to overlooked histories and creating a more inclusive society.

South Asian Americans have been a presence in the United States, and in California specifically, for more than 130 years. Early immigrants during the first wave of immigration from South Asia in the late 1800s and early 1900s worked on farms and in factories, helped build railroads, studied at California’s universities, fought for India’s freedom from British rule, and struggled for equal rights at home.

Today, there are more than 3.4 million individuals in the U.S. who trace their heritage to South Asia. In Los Angeles County alone, there are 114,922 South Asian Americans, according to the 2010 census, or 1.2% of the total population. South Asians are also one of the fastest growing communities in LA County; between 2000 and 2010, LA County’s Bangladeshi population grew 122%, Pakistanis 59%, Sri Lankans 45%, and Indians 29% in comparison to only a 3% total population growth in Los Angeles County over the same time period.

Through its NEH-supported “Our Stories: South Asian Americans in Los Angeles” project, SAADA will host two digitization events in the Los Angeles area in May 2016; the first at the Artesia Public Library, in what is known as Los Angeles’ “Little India” neighborhood, the second in the “Little Bangladesh” section of Koreatown, Los Angeles. These two communities, roughly 20 miles apart, reflect vastly different experiences of what it means to be South Asian American and showcase a microcosm of the diversity of stories within one immigrant community.

Members of the public in these areas will be invited to bring in their family photographs, home movies, audio recordings, journals, newspaper clippings, and correspondence for digitization. Select materials will be incorporated into SAADA’s archive and made freely accessible online.

These digitization events will highlight the importance of preserving South Asian American stories and communicate the idea that everyday community history is important history.

Since its founding in 2008, SAADA has built the largest publicly accessible collection of materials related to the experiences of South Asians in the United States, all made freely available to the public online through its website. The archive has had more than 164,000 visitors from around the world in the last year alone and materials from the archive have been used extensively by scholars, researchers, students, and artists in books, journal articles, documentary films, and a variety of creative works.

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