Community-Centered Archives Partnerships

Our History

Forming a Partnership

Current Projects and Initiatives

What We're Exploring

Past Projects and Initiatives

Our Values

Our History

The UCI Libraries have been at the forefront of community-centered archives partnerships for more than 30 years. In the mid-1980s, members from the Southeast Asian American community in Orange County proposed that UCI Libraries preserve the history of the diasporic communities of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Research librarian Anne Frank, in partnership with community leaders, founded the Southeast Asian Archive in 1987 with the goal of documenting the experiences of refugees and immigrants from the Southeast Asian diaspora.

Since the establishment of the Southeast Asian Archive, the UCI Libraries have worked hand-in-hand with local communities to document unique and valuable histories. Our goal is to empower communities in the process of telling and preserving their own histories. The opening of the Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive (OC & SEAA) Center in 2015 solidified UCI Libraries’ Special Collections & Archives’ commitment to fostering community-centered archives.

We welcome partnerships with UC Irvine students, faculty and staff, the Orange County community, and those working to share the stories of the Southeast Asian diaspora. We trust in community expertise and lived experience as the impetus for building inclusive, community-centered archives.

Forming a Partnership with the OC & SEAA Center

  • When we develop a partnership, we may work with you to create a Community Partner Agreement. Please contact us at to get started.
  • If you represent a community organization and are interested in becoming a new contributor to Calisphere and the Online Archive of California (OAC), you can fill out a Partner Registration Form.
  • We invite partners who want to publish their archives online to contribute to the Community Archives Digital Portal as a way to deposit your organization's digital materials to the California Digital Library.

Current Projects and Initiatives

Learning from our Asian American and Pacific Islander Elders: toward a more inclusive history of Santa Ana

A partnership with the Department of Asian American Studies involving the training of a cohort of 25 students to document and preserve the histories of the AAPI community in Santa Ana through archival research, oral history, and story-mapping, and video. This project has received funding from the UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence.

Sharing Comfort and Care: Intergenerational Story-Mapping in the Cambodian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Communities of Orange County

A California Humanities for All grant-funded project, partnership with the UCI Department of Asian American Studies, The Cambodian Family (TCF), and Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) to train a cohort of 27 Southern California-based researchers to document the resiliency and foodways of Cambodian and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Documenting UCI student COVID-19 experiences

UCI School of Social Ecology partnership, including consultation, student training on documentation and oral history (workshops), and templates for consent/donor deeds.

Amplify Womxn of UCI: Hear Our Voices

UCI Academic and Professional Women partnership documenting experiences of women of color at UCI, including consultation, interview and consent templates, and archival preservation.

Through Our Eyes, Hear Our Stories: Asian American and Pacific Islander Communities in a Time of Pandemic

UCI Epidemiology and UCI Humanities grant partnership, including consultation, student training on documentation and oral history (workshops), templates for consent/donor deeds, and archival preservation.

UCI School of Medicine LEAD-ABC Orange County African, Black, and Caribbean (OC ABC) video project

UCI School of Medicine partnership, including consultation and templates for consent/donor deeds.

Documenting Southeast Asian experiences at UCI

UCI Southeast Asian Student Association partnership, including consultation, student training on documentation and oral history (workshops), and templates for consent/donor deeds.

Oakland Community School / Black Panther Party Project

UCI Humanities Center and cross-community partnership, including consultation on oral history transcription and preservation documentation.

Documenting CA Essential Workers' COVID-19 Stories of Adaptation and Resilience

UCI Community-based Research Initiative Newkirk Center for Science & Society partnership, including consultation on oral history/interview collection and community-centered archives approaches.

Preserving Iyanna Blackburn's documentary, The 2%: Navigating UCI as a Black Student documentary

UCI Anteater TV and student partnership, including consultation and donor deed.

Activist Studio West: A Digital Repository of Movement Material

UCI Humanities partnership for the UCI-HBCU (Black) Digital Humanities Pathways Program, including consultation and training.

What We’re Exploring

Documenting the Black Experience at UCI and in Orange County

A project aimed at documenting the lived experiences of UCI’s black students in an effort to record an under-documented aspect of UCI’s dynamic history. The project will include facilitating the collection of oral histories and documentation (including photographs, slides, video recordings, audio recordings, scrapbooks, organizational records, departmental records, publications, event literature such as posters, postcards, flyers, and handbills, and other ephemera) from UCI black alumni, faculty, and staff.

Korean American Women's Archive (KAWA) Project

A two-year project to record the life histories of 50 Korean American women in the Southern California region, reflecting the challenges, triumphs, and impact of this under-documented community, who help to preserve family traditions, values, and culture and are civic connectors. The project will include recording, preserving, transcribing and making accessible these stories in a digital collection, open to researchers around the world.

Past Projects & Initiatives

Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Research Project

In Spring 2017, the UCI Libraries was awarded a prestigious Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant in the community anchors category for “Transforming Knowledge/Transforming Libraries.” This three-year research project will explore the outcomes of undergraduate students applying what they learn in ethnic studies combined with lived experience in contributing to community archives. The research team will partner with the UCI departments of Asian American Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies and African American Studies, as well as stakeholders representing organizations throughout Orange County, California. Additionally, this collaborative partnership will work to connect library and information studies practice with the ethnic studies curriculum and provide undergraduates with first-hand experience in building and providing access to the digital cultural heritage of under-represented communities.

Research on Beginnings of Activism for the Department of Asian American Studies (BADAAS) at UCI

In 2017, the UCI Libraries celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Southeast Asian Archive (SEAA) and joined the School of Humanities in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Department of Asian American Studies. Department Chair Dr. Judy Wu and SEAA Curator Dr. Thuy Vo Dang led a research internship for five students and one staff member/recent alum who worked collaboratively to research the history of Asian American Studies at UCI.  The research team began with archival research in Special Collections and then conducted oral histories with alumni.  They presented their research at the national American Association of University Professors (AAUP) conference and received funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to continue their research and development of a short documentary, exhibit, and website (see

Dr. Ana Rosas' Class and Exhibit - “The Material of Memory: Revisiting Our Histories of Immigration”

This student curated exhibit, which was on display in the UCI Student Center Viewpoint Gallery in March-April 2017, featured personal mementos of student family immigration histories. The exhibit was curated under the faculty advisement of Dr. Ana Rosas, Associate Professor, Chicano/Latino Studies and History. The project was co-sponsored by the Department of Chicano/Latino Studies, Department of History, School of Social Sciences, UCI Special Collections and Archives, UCI Illuminations and UCI Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture and Inclusion. UCI Special Collections and Archives will preserve material from the exhibit in the University Archives.

Transforming the Historical Narrative: Our Values

Community-centered archives come into being through collaborative partnerships between mainstream archival institutions and communities that are underrepresented in the historical record. The goal is to empower communities in the process of telling and preserving their own histories. In a community-centered archive partnership, archival institutions like the UCI Libraries Special Collections & Archives, Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center are:

  • Attentive to inequities reflected in archives
    • An institution should seek to understand how communities have been misrepresented, absent, or maligned in historical documentation.
  • Responsive to the community’s needs
    • An institution must be flexible, adaptable, and take an iterative and ethical approach to responding to how community memory and evidence is preserved, described, and made accessible. This means being willing to bend and stretch how archival work is defined to reflect what matters to the community.
  • Collaborative through shared authority
    • In a community-centered approach, the institution focuses on shared authority, making decisions together and respecting the value, expertise, and perspective brought to the partnership by the community.
  • Cognizant of the divergent priorities of communities
    • Community-institution partnerships must vary depending on the needs of each community, from the level of involvement by specific contributors to decisions about what archival material to collect.

We trust in a community’s expertise and lived experience as the impetus for building impactful community-centered archives.


Orange County & Southeast Asian Archive Center

University of California, Irvine

Located in Lower Gateway Plaza Facing Aldrich Park

(949) 824-4968