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Guide to New Neighbors: Sunset Park's Chinese Community oral histories 1994.007

Brooklyn Historical Society
128 Pierrepont Street
Brooklyn 11201

Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion and Maria Santiago

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 15, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Scope and Contents

Brooklyn Historical Society, in partnership with the Chinatown History Museum, initiated the New Neighbors: Sunset Park's Chinese Community Oral History project in 1993. Using funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, twenty-nine interviews were conducted documenting the experiences of both Chinese and non-Chinese community members whose homes clustered around Eighth Avenue in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn. Chinese and non-Chinese members of the community were interviewed. While the ethnically-Chinese narrators were chosen to represent both early (pre-1985) and late (post-1985) waves of immigration, non-Chinese narrators were chosen to represent the different ethnic communities who shared the neighborhood with -- or had been displaced by -- the new arrivals. This included people of Latino, Norwegian, and Italian heritage.

This collection includes recordings and transcripts of interviews conducted between March of 1993 and June of 1994. Eleven interviews were conducted in English; fifteen were conducted in Cantonese; and three were conducted in Mandarin. Mary Ting Yi Lui and Ka-Kam Chui performed interviews in Cantonese and English; Gregory Ruf conducted interviews in Mandarin and English. Fabiana Chiu aided on one interview which was conducted with assistance in Spanish. The oral histories often contain descriptions of immigration, living arrangements, neighborhood ethnicities, discrimination, employment, community development, political leadership, petty and organized crime, and adjustment to American life. Also included is a small sampling of newspaper clippings, brochures, and administrative documentation of the project's development, management, and exhibition.


The collection contains the digitized content of twenty-nine interviews, digitized and print transcripts in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin (with English translations where applicable), and printed administrative documentation of the project's development, management, and exhibition. The collection is arranged thematically into 3 series: 1) Oral histories; 2) Oral History Transcripts; 3) Administrative Materials. Interview recordings were originally made on compact cassette tapes and are housed separately.

Series 1: Oral Histories makes up the bulk of the collection. There is audio for each of the twenty-nine interviews, all conducted for the original scope of the project. A complete listing of each interview with a biographical note, scope and content note, and controlled access headings follows. Interviews are also described in the Past Perfect archives catalog, including the audio and transcription where available. Digitized oral histories in Series 1 are in alphabetical order by narrator name.

Series 2: Oral History Transcripts contains handwritten and typed transcripts for each of the twenty-nine interviews, including those in Mandarin and Cantonese along with an English-language translation for most. For a complete listing of translations, participants, and dates of the interview, please see the Interview Lists folder in box 2. Abstracts of the interviews are also included in this series. Folders are organized alphabetically by narrator name. Each folder contains all available transcripts for that interview. When available, digitized transcripts are attached to relevant records in Past Perfect's archives catalog. Contents of box 2 were inventoried and remain unprocessed.

Series 3: Administrative Materials includes all retained materials that went into the funding and implementation for Brooklyn Historical Society and Chinatown History Museum project and exhibition. Materials are arranged as they were found; with separate files pertaining to grant funding, project planning, research, hiring, printed ephemera related to Sunset Park's Chinese community, and choice of narrators. This series has not been inventoried or processed.