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MC 814; T-209; Vt-159

Cambodian-American Women and Youth Oral History Projects Collection, 1969-2001 (inclusive), 1985-2001 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

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Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 814; T-209; Vt-159
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Title: Cambodian-American Women and Youth Oral History Projects Collection, 1969-2001 (inclusive), 1985-2001 (bulk)
Date(s): 1969-2001
Date(s): 1985-2001
Quantity: 2.71 linear feet (6 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 197 audiotapes and 32 videotapes)
Language of materials: Materials in English and Khmer.
Abstract: Administrative records, draft transcripts, audiotapes, videotapes, and bound interviews related to the Cambodian-American Women and Youth Oral History Projects. Also includes files and interview transcripts regarding Cambodian puppetry.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 88-M156, 2001-M124, 2003-M58, 2006-M26, 2007-M23, 2009-M88
The Cambodian-American Women and Youth Oral History Projects Collection was transferred to the Schlesinger Library from the Schlesinger Library Oral History Office in September 2014.

Processing Information:

Processed: February 2015
By: Mary O. Murphy, with assistance from Dan Bullman

Access Restrictions:

Access. The bulk of the collection is open for research. Interview transcripts, audio, and audiovisual material are restricted as to publication or broadcast until the death of the interviewee. Researchers must sign a special permission form stating that they will not use the names of interviewees in their research and continue to only identify interviewees by their initials. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the records created by the Cambodian-American Women and Youth Oral History Projects is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Cambodian-American Women and Youth Oral History Projects Collection, 1969-2001 (inclusive), 1985-2001 (bulk); item description, dates. MC 814, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

HISTORY

The Cambodian-American Women Oral History Project was initiated in 1986 by Richard F. Mollica, M.D., in conjunction with the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. An assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate in the Harvard Program in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Mollica had worked with patients at the Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic in Brighton, Massachusetts, and became aware of the importance of recording Cambodian women refugees' experiences. With the support of the Ford Foundation and with the assistance from Svang Tor, who served as the project's co-director and interpreter, Mollica interviewed ten Cambodian women and later groups of Cambodian-American youth. Each of the first 10 interviews explores the "trauma" story, beginning in Cambodia and continuing through immigration to the United States; the impact of the interviewee's experiences, both political and personal, on her life; changes in gender-related roles after her arrival in the United States; and the significance of Buddhism in her ability to cope with her trauma and new life.
Following work on part one of the project, Mollica began a second phase of interviews with groups of Cambodian-American youth in 1991. Inspired by responses of the women interviewees who often spoke of their children and concerns for their acculturation process, Mollica recorded group interviews in English with young people who had lived in the United States for five years or more. Mollica proposed to focus the interviews on trauma stories and survival experiences of the Pol Pot regime, acculturation experiences in the United States, as well as inter-generational relationships, racism and prejudice, dating behavior, and religious and cultural conflicts.
The first phase of the project was coordinated at the Schlesinger Library by former Director Patricia King, who Mollica considered to be the project's mentor. Following King's death, Schlesinger Library Oral History Coordinator Ruth Hill served as the project's advisor, assisting in the collection, transcription, translation, and editing of the oral histories of the women refugees. Mollica also worked with the Schlesinger Library and communicated with Ruth Hill on the second phase of the project, though it appears the cooperative work was less so during this period. Later, Mollica, Svang Tor and others were interviewed by Ruth Hill on the subject of Cambodian puppetry.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in three series:

SCOPE AND CONTENT

Series I, CAMBODIAN-AMERICAN WOMEN ORAL HISTORY PROJECT, 1985-2001 (#1.1-2.8, 3.1v-6.3v, T-209.1-T-209.191), documents refugee experiences of Cambodian women who fled to the United States as a result of the Pol Pot dictatorship in Cambodia, 1975-1979. In 1986, Richard F. Mollica, M.D., initiated the oral history project in conjunction with the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. An assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate in the Harvard Program in Psychiatric Epidemiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Mollica had worked with patients at the Indochinese Psychiatry Clinic in Brighton, Massachusetts, and became aware of the importance of recording Cambodian women refugees' experiences. With the support of the Ford Foundation and with the assistance of Svang Tor, who served as the project's co-director and interpreter, Mollica interviewed ten Cambodian women and later groups of Cambodian-American youth. Each of the first ten interviews (conducted in Khmer) explores the "trauma" story, beginning in Cambodia and continuing through immigration to the United States; the impact of the interviewee's experiences, both political and personal, on her life; changes in gender-related roles after her arrival in the United States; and the significance of Buddhism in her ability to cope with her trauma and new life. Series I includes administrative records, draft transcripts, audiotapes of interviews, and bound interviews. Interviews were conducted in Khmer, then translated/transcribed into English.
Subseries A, Administrative records and related, 1985-2001 (#1.1-1.16), contains correspondence between Richard F. Mollica and Schlesinger Library Director Patricia King and Oral History Coordinator Ruth Hill, among others. Subjects regard the development of the project and donation of the collection to the library as well as conferences, workshops, and related programs. There is correspondence and research material about the mental health status of refugees living in Thai-Cambodian refugee camps, such as that known as Site Two, Southeast Asia's largest refugee camp during the 1980s. Administrative files also include project proposals and reports that provide an overall description of the history, goals, challenges and progress of the oral history project.
Subseries B, Transcripts, 1986-2000 (#1.17-2.8), contains partial, full and annotated draft transcripts for a selection of the ten oral history interviews. Files are arranged in chronological order by interview number. Only the initials of those who were interviewed appear in this finding aid in order to protect the identity of participants. See the restrictions note above for further information. Transcripts in English.
Subseries C, Audiotapes, 1986-1993 (#T-209.1-T-209.191), contains audio cassettes and reels of all ten Cambodian-American oral histories. Interviews 1-7, and 9-10 are available on audiocassette, while interview 8 is contained on 3/4-inch reels. The audiotapes are arranged in chronological order by interview number. Only the initials of those who were interviewed appear in this finding aid in order to protect the identity of participants. See the restrictions note above for further information. Interviews are recorded in Khmer. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Subseries D, Bound interviews, 2001 (#3.1v-6.3v), contains hard-cover bound and inter-library loan spiral bound copies of the Cambodian-American women oral history interviews (formally identified by Schlesinger Library collection number OH-63). Interviews are arranged by interview number into two sets, beginning with the hard cover bound interviews. Interviews in English.
Series II, CAMBODIAN-AMERICAN YOUTH ORAL HISTORY PROJECT, 1991-1993 (#2.9-2.11, T-209.192-T.209.193, Vt-159.1-Vt-159.32), contains administrative records, audiotapes, and videotapes documenting a second phase of interviews with groups of Cambodian-American youth, beginning in 1991. Inspired by responses of Cambodian-American women interviewees who often spoke of their children and concerns for their acculturation process, Mollica and Tor collaborated for a second time to record group interviews with young people who had lived in the United States for five years or more (but who were also old enough to remember Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge). Mollica proposed to focus the interviews on trauma stories and survival experiences of the Pol Pot regime, acculturation experiences in the United States, as well as inter-generational relationships, racism and prejudice, dating behavior, and religious and cultural conflicts. The interviews are arranged chronologically into four groups, the first of which was comprised of college-aged Cambodian men and women who helped to design the project for three other groups of Cambodian-American youth interviewees. That planning group further focuses the inquiry to youth experiences of life before Pol Pot, family background, personal experiences under the Khmer Rouge, and Cambodian identity. Interviews are in English.
Subseries A, Administrative records, 1991-1996 (#2.9-2.11), contains a small set of correspondence, permission forms and photocopies of reimbursements, and project proposals and reports. Files are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Audiotapes and videotapes, 1993-1996 (#T-209.192-T.209.193, Vt-159.1-Vt-159.32), contains 2 audio cassettes and 32 VHS tapes arranged chronologically into four groups. The first was a planning group, comprised of college-aged Cambodian-American men and women who helped to design the project for three other focus groups of Cambodian-American youth interviewees. That planning group narrowed the inquiry to youth experiences of life before Pol Pot, family background, personal experiences under the Khmer Rouge, and Cambodian identity. Note that more than one interview session is captured on some of the videotapes, so users should be aware that the next interview can start at the end of a tape. This series also includes one "sample video" (Vt-159.32) that provides selections from across all of the interviews. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Series III, CAMBODIAN PUPPETRY INTERVIEWS AND RELATED, 1969, 1991-1994 (#2.12-7.5, T-209.194-T-209.197), contains a small set of administrative files and transcripts and audiotapes of interviews created by Schlesinger Library Oral History Coordinator Ruth Hill and Richard Mollica on the topic of Cambodian puppetry. Files contain correspondence, research material, and interview transcripts of conversation between Hill and Mollica, as well as Svang Tor and Hill's spouse, Hugh Morgan Hill, an African American educator and storyteller who performed as "Brother Blue" in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Files are arranged alphabetically.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Audiotapes
Cambodia--History--1975-1979
Cambodian American teenagers
Cambodian Americans--Mental health
Emigration and immigration--Psychological aspects
Oral histories
Refugee children--United States
Transcripts
Videotapes
Women immigrants--United States
Hill, Ruth Edmonds
King, Patricia Miller
Mollica, Richard F.
Tor, Svang

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