Refugee Educators’ Network donates Southeast Asia Community Resource Center Collection to Sacramento State Library

Over 6000 pieces from the Southeast Asia Community Resource Center (SEACRC) were received by the Library this fall semester. This unique collection offers a breadth of history that the Sacramento State Library collection lacked.  The demands from our students and faculty for research on the diverse Southeast Asian population are greater than our resources had been able to provide.  The collection helps to fill that gap and includes materials for the following groups: Armenian, Cambodian (Khmer), Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Khmu, Korean, Lahu, Lao, Mien, Russian, Thai, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese. 

The collection features items such as the following:

  • The only grammar written for the Hmong language (Mottin), donated from the estate by a friend of the missionary linguist who wrote it in the 1970s.
  • A full color book about the Mien’s religious paintings and the history of the people.
  • A Hmong skirt and jacket donated by a man who was in Laos during the secret war (1964), and another skirt and jacket made by refugees in a Thai camp (1984).
  • CIA training film from the 1960s, showing how to teach Hmong villagers to use an M-16 (released under the Freedom of Information Act).

The collection also includes many children’s storybooks, M.A. theses and Ph.D. dissertations, dictionaries, language books, and novels (in native languages).

The Southeast Asia Community Resource Center, housed in  the Folsom Cordova Unified School District, provided resources to support Southeast Asian bilingual teachers and students from 1983 to 2002 when funding ended.  With help from grants and other sources of funds, SEACRC collected considerable reference materials including books, magazines, maps, audio, video, scale models, posters, photographs, slides, travel books, catalogs, handbooks, manuals, and more.     

The Refugee Educators' Network, Inc. (REN) began as the Education Subcommittee of the Sacramento Area Refugee Forum in the early 1980s. Since then, REN members developed a library of books, videos, magazines, and artifacts, sponsored 14 conferences, and published handbooks and a 22 volume newsletter, Context: Newcomers in California’s Classrooms.  

When Vietnamese, Laotian and Cambodian refugees began to arrive in the Sacramento area in the late 1970s, there was little information about their backgrounds and languages. With the support of grants from the Department of Education and the proceeds from conferences and sales of books, the Refugee Educators’ Network, Inc., collected materials and made information easily accessible to anyone. For 22 years, a newsletter was published and distributed to educators and other interested individuals. The group also published and sold handbooks for teachers of Lao, Khmer, Hmong, Mien, Khmu, Lahu, Lua’, Vietnamese, and Chinese from Vietnam.  In the last few years, educators’ focus has been on state standards. Thus, in 2005 with the impending retirement of the REN Chairperson, Judy Lewis, one of the primary organizers of the collection, rather than let the collection be lost or dispersed, REN contacted the Sacramento State Library to see if there was interest in having the collection.

The collection, which had been housed in a temporary building on a public school campus in Rancho Cordova, was enthusiastically received by Tamara Frost Trujillo, the Head of Collections and Acting Director of the Library, and selectors Roz Van Auker (Juvenile and Teaching Curriculum), Hong Wang (Politics), and Kathryn Blackmer Reyes (Ethnic Studies).

The materials arrived in the Library this fall and many are already available for check-out.   To find them in the EUREKA catalog, do a keyword search for “Southeast Asia Community Resource Center”. Currently some 600 titles have been cataloged. Each book will have a bookplate donor label, identifying it as part of the SEACRC collection.

Some of the materials and issues of Context are available in pdf format at the Refugee Educators’ Network website. We anticipate having the whole collection catalogued and available in Spring 2007.

For additional information see:
Refugee Educator’s Network: