Snapshots in Time: 40 years of Asian American History Revealed

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Candles light a vigil commemorating the tenth anniversary of the murder of Vincent Chin, a young Chinese-American beaten to death in Detroit in 1982 in a case with overtones of racial hatred and lenient sentencing of the men responsible. The case led to a public outcry around the country. Hing Hay Park, June 23, 1992. Michelle Corsilles (middle) and Anne Xuan Clark, right. Photo, Dean Wong.

Since 1974, it has been the mission of The International Examiner to serve the Asian Pacific American communities by providing accurate, in-depth, timely, and sensitive coverage of the issues that matter. As a nonprofit, pan-Asian American media, we provide a unique perspective to these issues, which have been documented with hundreds of images. Images of protests and celebration, crime and tragedy, as well as daily captures of the APA pursuit of a shared identity, have been locked away for decades.

Two years ago, the IE staff and board members launched a digital archives project with financial help from King County 4Culture. It was the first time an effort was made to catalog and preserve the photographs in the paper’s possession. A year ago, a grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods allowed the project to move toward creating a curated online gallery of images available to the public.

“Back in the era of the 70s and early 80s, when the paper was still relatively young, photography was not as accessible as it is now,” says Ron Chew, IE Board Advisor. “We didn’t have a lot of still images or video because the technology had not emerged yet. A handful of API community photographers helped capture events, places, people, and special moments that would not be so vividly remembered otherwise. That’s why the digital archives are so important.

“The digital archives is a treasure chest of community memory,” Chew continues. “Without these photos and the photographers who created them, we wouldn’t have a rich sense of the community activism and ethnic pride that underlies the Civil Rights era and birth of the pan-API movement. It was important to take these photos out of their obscure files, preserve them, and make them widely available in digital form to educate future generations.”

This spring — just in time for the Examiner’s 40th anniversary — we are able to unveil the results of the project: a catalog of nearly 2,000 images, organized, indexed, and stored in appropriate archival materials, as well as a searchable, online gallery via Flickr, containing 200+ of the best and most informative images. All images have been tagged and captioned with information relating them to specific historical events and other larger themes.

We have worked with the photographers (when we could find them), to provide as accurate information as possible. There is always room for improvement, however! Thanks to Flickr, viewers can weigh in with comments or corrections gently offered!

The IE Digital Archives Project team consists of Project Managers Eleanor Boba, Stephen Jeong, Tuyen Kim Than, and Archivist Ben Abraham. The following IE interns have also assisted with this project: Paige Minister, Debbie Wu, and Chelsee Yee, working alongside Kathy Ho, Travis Quezon, Christina Twu, and Ryan Catabay. Thank you to our many community advisors and photographers who have helped us in this long endeavor in creating a digital landmark for the APA experience.

The complete collection can be viewed by appointment at the office of The International Examiner. Please contact Kathy Ho at Kathy.ho@IExaminer.org.

We are grateful to King County 4Culture and the Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods for making this endeavor possible.

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