Hmong Archives

       Hmong Archives 343 Michigan Street Saint Paul,MN 55102 (651)612-5469
Hmong Archives 343 Michigan Street
Saint Paul,MN 55102

The mission of the Hmong Archives is to:

Research, collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate materials in all formats about or by Hmong.

For those unfamiliar with the Hmong Community, they have migrated to various parts of the world to escape persecution, primarily fleeing parts of Laos, China, Vietnam, and Thailand in search of safety and a better life.

The Hmong Archives were created in 1999 to preserve their history, which is being lost by newer generations at an alarming rate.

Currently the facility is managed by Martin Heise. At the moment Martin is traveling throughout Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand collecting materials for the archives. He typically travels to Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Germany, and French Guiana every year, visiting areas with high Hmong populations to collect materials related to Hmong culture.  The rest of the staff is comprised of volunteers and students participating in internship programs.

While the Archives receives visitors from all walks of life, most of their patrons are researchers from universities.

Hmong Embroidery "paj ntaub"
Hmong Embroidery “paj ntaub”

Most materials in the Archives come from donations made by individuals, organizations, and businesses. The never turn away a donation if it is related to Hmong culture, even movies that are dubbed into Hmong are added to the collection. While patrons cannot check out movies, they are free to come to the facility and watch movies.

Traditional Hmong Clothes "Khawb Ncaws Hmoob"
Traditional Hmong Clothes “Khawb Ncaws Hmoob”

As of 2011 their growing collection was comprised of:

  • 2,172 Audio items, including cassettes, CD’s and 3 phonographs records
  • 5,093 books
  • 84,796 items and 116 Archival boxes
  • 746 maps
  • Hmong cultural artifacts, such as, baskets, musical instruments, cross-bows, batik tools, costumes, and others
  • 10,813 photographs
  • 4,973 posters
  • 2,360 videos
  • 2,995 newspapers
  • 3,788 periodicals
  • 188 works of art

All media may be duplicated for a nominal fee for research only and may not be shown publicly, quoted, or broadcasted without written permission from the Hmong Archives.

Below is a video from a news clip highlighting the facility


Tsi? Niyukwaliho’ t^’ “Our Ways”

The Sovereign Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
Cultural Heritage Department

LogoThe Sovereign Oneida Nation of Wisconsin’s Cultural Heritage Department is an extension of the Oneida Nation tribal government. The department collects Oneida traditions, artifacts, language, customs, and history—and not just through the static papers or objects of the tribe’s past. Oneida’s Cultural Heritage Department is a very important tribal institution and is atypical to traditional (or western) collecting institutions. They offer cultural wellness and healing as well as active language revitalization—on top of records management and museum collections. Their mission reflects what is valuable to their unique ways of knowledge.

Our mission is to preserve, protect, maintain, and interpret the Oneida traditions, artifacts, language, customs, and history in a manner that shall promote the dignity and respect of the Oneida people and culture.

The Wisconsin Oneida Nation Tribal Reservation is located just west of Green Bay, straddles both Brown and Outagamie Counties. As one of the five founding members of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Oneida originated in New York, but were forced to cede territory in the early 19th century by the U.S. Government and relocated to Wisconsin. The Cultural Heritage Department is comprised of 5 branches that maintain and preserve the rich history and culture of the Oneida People—Culture, History, Language Revitalization, the Oneida Nation Museum, and the Oneida Community Library.

The History Department, which I had the opportunity to visit this weekend, is home of the tribal archives which includes both the tribes records management and tribal history and genealogy. The Tribal Historian, Loretta Metoxen, has vast and impressive knowledge and BASEBALLmemory of tribal history and her community. Loretta serves as an example of the different ways of preserving and sharing knowledge that indigenous culture keepers practice. The Tribal Libraries Archives and Museums Project here at SLIS is working on describing numerous reels of film outtakes of Oneida people produced in the 70’s. We met with Loretta in hopes that should provide more information about the people featured in the film—I was floored with the amount of information she could recall about almost everyone in the film. It was truly amazing.

Eric shows us a photo from the Oneida Nation Museum Archives.

The archival collections of the Oneida Nation are numerous and spread out across the cultural heritage department. This weekend we were able to meet with Reggie Doxtater, the tribal archivist. Reggie works with numerous collections in records management that include tribal government records, oral transcriptions, photographs, maps, film footage and audiotapes. The Oneida Nation Museum also houses a photograph archive in its lower level. Shawn, a cultural interpreter for the museum, showed us his process for digitizing and describing photographs in PastPerfect. The collections at both the museum and records management are open to the public and attract researchers from around the country, but they mostly serve those in the community—providing a closer look at their heritage and cultural identity as Oneida people.

The Oneida Community Library is another arm of the Cultural Heritage Department. During our tour of the Oneida Reservation given by Eliza Skenandore, the multi-media specialist in the History Department, we were able to stop into the Oneida Community Library, which had an impressive collection of  literature on the Oneida and Iroquois Nations, rare books on the Oneida people, a fairly comprehensive general library collection, and rich programming for both children and adults.

kanuhs^te    tk’ay^’tuh    yewan’nut^kwa
“Building where they keep the reading books.”

A collection of 8mm tape recordings of Oneida Business Committee meetings from the 90’s


While we were visiting with Reggie he proposed another potential TLAM project to our group. Records Management has over 400 audio (and potentially video) tapes in their collection. These tapes hold recordings from Oneida Business Committee meeting from the early 1990’s—a rich time in tribal history, which includes the introduction of tribal gaming, increased tribal income, and expansion. Cultural Heritage has no way to play or convert these tapes into digital files. TLAM would like to come up with a project plan and workflow schedule for the for the tapes–If anyone is interested in helping with this project, or with the Oneida film project please feel free to visit the March TLAM meeting, or get in touch sooner!


The Naval Historical Collection

Grant Roedl
The archives facility that I choose for this assignment is Naval Historical Collection in Newport Rhode Island. The Naval Historical Collection, or the NHC for short, was established in 1969 and is a part of the U.S. Naval War College. The college was created in 1884 and has several notable graduates including Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. In fact the NHC has an entire exhibit dedicated to the admiral. The archive is home to 1,200 feet of records that document the history of the college since it began. In addition to the history of the facility, the archive also keeps records of past college presidents, professors, and naval officers who have taken part in the colleges history. Judging by the fact that most of materials collected are about the history of the school, it is fair to assume that the collections focus is the history of the college. However, this doesn’t mean that other subjects are not included. The archive also holds manuscripts, oral histories, books, and special collections that relate to the history of naval warfare.

the Naval Historical Collection facility

The way that the archive receives its collection is either by donors or it is self acquired due to the fact that it is created by the college itself. Most of the users of the archives are students from the school. Non college personnel however must write to the curator of the NHC for an appointment to view the collections. Due to the fact that anyone, who has permission, can view these materials is definitely a highlight because this allows everyone to learn the history of our nation’s navy.

College Personnel

National Air & Space Museum Archives

                                   The archives’ old home at Building 12.

  The archives staff outside Building 12.

The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum features an archives department with the lofty mission of “acquiring, preserving, organizing, and describing the documentary evidence of aerospace history”.

The archival collection includes artifacts spanning the history of flight in a wide variety of formats, including 20,000 film selections, two million photographic images, 40,000 aircraft technical manuals, and two million aircraft and spacecraft technical drawings.

For practical and storage reasons, the collection is stored in two different locations. Any hobbyist or researcher is welcome to visit either of the archives with an appointment. Users can also submit research requests and have the staff search the collection for suitable research materials. Additionally, researchers can order prints or reproductions of many documents at a cost.

The NASM has an archives reading room where general reference material is kept. The majority of archival reference questions can be answered using the materials stored at the museum. (The staff report that the most frequently requested item is the film of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, NC, which does not actually exist.) However, most of the archival collection is stored offsite. Researchers with specific or obscure questions may prefer to make an appointment to visit the offsite location for reference service better suited to their research needs. Originally, this offsite location was in Building 12 of the Paul E. Garber Restoration and Storage Facility.

                                           The Boeing Aviation Hanger at the Udvar-Hazy Center.

In 2003, two days before the centennial anniversary of the Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk, the NASM celebrated the opening of the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA, a 45 minute drive from the museum in DC. This new companion museum provides a significantly larger space for the storage and display of the museum’s collection of aircraft and spacecraft. As of 2011, the center also features a new archives department and reading room that now houses the vast majority of the archival collection once stored in Building 12.

Orville Wright, 1908. (Carl H. Claudy)
Orville Wright, 1908. (Carl H. Claudy)

The archives organizes its collections by main subject, which is typically an individual or company. The collections tend to feature materials in several formats that either document or were created by the subject. For example, the Carl H. Claudy collection, to which the photo above belongs, includes photos of Claudy as a young boy and prints he created as an adult.

                            Louise Thaden, c. 1929. (unknown)

Though only a very small percentage of the archival collection is available for online searching, the archives provides 99 finding aids on its website to help users find information about its holdings. Little information is offered about an internal system of organization; however, a bit of searching reveals that the Smithsonian has its own method of organization called the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System (SIRIS), which includes a list of major collections found in the NASM archives. Certain collections have very detailed resources, such as the Samuel P. Langley Collection or this guide to the collection of United States Air Force Aircraft History cards. While these resources are excellent for the collections that have them, many of the collections may never be publicly available in this manner. One such example is the intriguing microfilm collection of German and Japanese air technical documents seized by the Allies near the end of World War II. The archives website reports that many reels of microfilm are damaged and cannot be reproduced, some preserved images are blurry due to photographer error, and the indexing often points the reader to incorrect or missing reels.

“There is no dust in SAADA!”

“We believe that History is not a spectator sport.” – SAADA Core Values

The South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) is located in Philadelphia and was established in 2008 to document the diverse range of experiences of South Asians in the United States. The collection is a purely digital repository that works in collaboration with organizations and individuals to collect digital files in a variety of formats, and everything in their collection is made available online.


SAADA has a very impressive collection policy that delineates the scope of the collection. While they consider anything that reflects the diverse experiences of South Asians in America, the following topics are their primary focus:

  •  Pre-1965 immigrants and visitors
  • The Bellingham Riots
  • South Asian American political involvement and activism
  • Professional associations and labor organizations
  • Regional and community organizations
  • Religious organizations and places of worship
  • Community newspapers
  • Student organizations
  • Prominent South Asian American artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and intellectuals

The collection policy also defines South Asians to include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and they are open to any resources that speak to the experiences of individuals from these communities or any of the extended South Asian diaspora communities across the world. The primary focus of the collection seems to be accessibility, and they take digital files of archival resources from several physically dispersed archival repositories and private collections in order to create a more cohesive look at the South Asian immigrant experience.


Celebrating diversity is definitely a priority of this repository, both figuratively and literally. SAADA is not only concerned with presenting the diverse narrative of the South Asian American experience, they are also focused on telling these stories in a variety of ways. They do not restrict formats for submission to the site, and currently hold 2,047 unique digital items ranging from photographs to websites to newspaper clippings dating as far back as the 19th century. Users can browse these images in a number of ways, including by type, location, time period, language, theme, and subject. It is an incredibly user-friendly interface in that way.


SAADA truly aims to be an activist archival institution, creating programs to illustrate that individuals make history, that ordinary people make extraordinary contributions to society, and that everyday stories matter. One of the more intriguing projects they have currently is the First Days Project. This initiative works with individuals to document the experience of their first days as immigrants to America. This takes the form of oral histories, videos, and text-based narratives and is presented in an interactive interface allowing users to explore the many stories of immigrants’ first days in America. The goal of this project is to encapsulate the feelings of excitement, nervousness, loss, humor, sadness, adventure, and confusion that accompany one on a first day in a new place.

that first day in america

This repository is a great example of an identity based community archive whose aim is to allow minority groups to tell their own stories through personal and organizational records of their experiences. They believe that strong archives are vital to community well being and that archives can be dynamic spaces for dialogue and debate – there is no dust in SAADA – and they truly foster this belief by providing a myriad of viewpoints on the South Asian American immigrant experience.

Northeast Historic Film


Alamo Theatre Interior, 1930.

Northeast Historic Film is a moving image archives located in Bucksport, Maine. It was established in 1986 and is currently located in the Alamo Theatre, a 1916 cinema building, that includes the restored, 125-seat Alamo Theatre auditorium. NHF currently has a staff of seven, with Executive Director David S. Weiss at the helm. Committed to its role in the Bucksport community, NHF presents public exhibits (including online exhibits), screenings, documentaries, symposia, film festivals and workshops for the public on preservation.

logoNHF’s extensive film collection, much of which is unique and irreplaceable, contains ten million feet of film and more than 8,000 hours of video.

They have a three-story, state-of-the-art vault building that houses materials from institutions all over the east coast. NHF also has a biannual newsletter called Moving Image Review that launched in 1988. Some services offered by NHF are moving image transfers, storage, stock footage licensing and group presentations that can include film screenings.


Credit: British Film Institute Collection, Northeast Historic Film. The Sailor’s Sacrifice, 1909, filmed in Maine.

The primary collecting focus is on northern New England-related moving image materials, with special attention paid to films that are “lost.” However, NHF also collects and preserves objects and ephemera that relate directly to individual moving image collections, including notes, still photographs and audiotapes. Such objects can also include promotional materials for individual items or creators such as posters, press books, biographical publications and correspondence. NHF collects posters from the silent era and all post-1920 posters of films with a New England connection, as well as ephemera relating to film exhibition and the history of movie theaters and their audiences in northern New England, including postcards, lantern slides, lobby cards and other images.

movie transferNHF has a pretty straight forward list of criteria for acceptance of film/tapes. High priority is given to items that are a.) related to the northern New England region through location, subject, maker, source or other connection, b.) unique, or inaccessible to the northern New England population, c.) otherwise likely tobe damaged or lost, d.) as close to the original film or tape generation as possible and is of good picture quality and e.) well-documented, and where possible accompanied by related non-motion picture references such as notes, still photographs and audiotapes.

Likewise, NHF does not purchase film/tape from organizations or individuals, recognizing that such purchase would place the archives in a position of assigning a monetary value to unique historic and cultural material which would be otherwise unavailabstorage cannistersle to the public.

All 800 collections are listed in alphabetical order on NHF’s very user-friendly website. I personally enjoyed the British Film Institute Collection and the Women Works Collection. With on click, a user can learn the collection date range, a summary, biographical/historical notes, genre of collection, subject, etc. Members of the public can make an appointment at any time to use the Study Center at NHF to view moving images, technology, still images/ephemera, books and periodicals.

In 2013, the Association of Moving Image Archivists honored Northeast Historic Film with the Silver Light Award, honoring its substantial contributions to the field.


Herman Miller Archives

Herman Miller is one of the most well-known names in modern furniture design. Though not many people are aware of this, it was Miller’s son, D.J. De Pree who started the company, using his father-in-law’s name instead of his own. De Pree worked with legendary designers George Nelson and Charles and Ray Eames to build his designs into the mid-century style icons that are recognized around the world today.

D.J. De Pree

“Was it possible that his furniture company was providing living environments of dubious value? Were consumers offered only interiors stuffed with over-scaled, over-elaborate, jaded furnishings?”

As far as I can tell, this is not a traditional archive. Over the summer of 2013, Herman Miller started Why, a digital repository of interviews with designers, blogs of design issues and some archival company information. So not only do you get to see cool pictures, you get to learn a lot with the photos in a really user-friendly way. I could not find any semblance of a digital archive on the site, but after some Googling, I discovered that they do in fact have a physical archive on site, but there is no information of it online.

Photo of physical Herman Miller Archives, from

There are several videos in the archive, on of which was an interview with George Nelson’s aide, Hilda Longinotti, who worked for the company for 21 years. She gives a firsthand account of amazing events, such as learning the proper way to speak from Nelson, designing pavilions for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and designing the store Barney’s, one of the most recognizable department stores in New york City.

Screenshot of Why blog on Herman Miller website
Screenshot of Why blog on Herman Miller website

But the most beautiful video in the archive is titled “108 Years in 108 seconds” and was designed by Dutch animators in order to show the Herman Miller timeline in a way that mirrored the image of the company. Take a look and learn a bit more about how Herman Miller came to be!