Please join us in celebrating the Hmong Archives’ new permanent home at the East Side Freedom Library on February 1oth. An agreement of association will be signed at 7 PM, with a brief program, light refreshments, and tours available. More information about the celebration can be be found on the event page.
From the Hmong Archives:
On February 10, 1999, Hmong Archives became a nonprofit to “research, collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate materials in all formats about or by Hmong,” thanks to the efforts of Yuepheng Xiong of Hmong ABC. Over a month later, with repainted used furniture, and a collection of Hmong books in Chinese, 500 cassettes, and boxes of papers and other objects, we celebrated our modest “grand opening” with a buffet from Foodsmart and speeches. That night we received one of our treasures, a Hmong Texas phonograph record that Steve Trimble had bought at Goodwill and now donated. The dream of an institution to collect and preserve Hmong culture for future generations had begun in a 12 by 12 foot room on the second floor of the Nobles Building at Metropolitan State University, now their
In our first year we counted 12 visitors, 2 items checked out, about 100 hours worked in the room, and 51 donations that amounted to 10,833 items. That included 631 audio, 843 books, 7821 file items, 162 objects, 366 photographs, and only 57 videos. By late 2015, those numbers grew to 3175 audio, 6382 books, over 113,000 files, 5827 objects, 20,396 photographs, and 4791 videos, for a total of 187,321 items accessioned, done with 29,726 volunteer hours. We collect Hmong stuff (Hmoob teej tug) in 13 categories, including archival boxes, cards, maps, newspapers, periodicals, posters, and works of art.
Hmong Archives has moved as often, if not as far, as Hmong people. After three years we lost our first space when Metro State decided to build a new Library. We moved to the Minnehaha Mall in Frogtown for three years, then Concordia for three years, and finally above Hmong ABC on University Avenue for another three years. In Dec. 2010 we moved to the home of Hmong Archives’ co-founder, Marlin Heise, at 343 Michigan Street, where it has been difficult to encourage use by the public.
Three years ago we learned about a new nonprofit library being established on the East Side which would focus in labor, immigration, ethnic history, and the arts—especially with East Side connections.
The new East Side Freedom Library was collecting thousands of books and other materials for teaching and programs, and would be based in the historic Carnegie Library on Greenbrier Street, made available by the move of the Arlington Hills Branch Library to its new center on Payne and Maryland. Their board has invited Hmong Archives to move in, keep our organizational independence, and join in programs.
We are progressing with boxing up the 6000 books to be cataloged by volunteers at ESFL. By the time of our February 10 celebration we hope to have all books and many videos at ESFL. We remain a low budget and volunteer nonprofit, accomplishing small miracles along the way. Our move back to the East Side at the East Side Freedom Library is a giant step in making our collections available locally and on the Internet to researchers and visitors interested in Hmong cultural studies.
Please join us at 1105 Greenbrier Street, on Saint Paul’s East Side, on February 10, from 5-9 PM to celebrate the signing of our association agreement with the East Side Freedom Library.