The CSUDH Gerth Archives and Special Collections, noted for its preservation of Southern California histories and cultures, has had three major developments toward its mission of making materials more accessible to the public.
The Archives is inviting the campus community and public to explore the newly completed Japanese American Digitization Project online, as well as the “Know Justice, Know Peace” exhibition currently on view in the University Library. In addition, the Archives recently received a $150,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commissions to catalog the L.A. Free Press collection.
More information about each of these developments is below.
Japanese American Digitization Project
After eight years, the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project (CSUJAD) has been completed, making over 50,000 digital objects from nearly 30 institutions accessible online to a worldwide audience.
The historic project, housed within the Archives, brings together documents, oral histories, photographs, and other archival materials relating to the history of Japanese Americans. There is a special focus on the incarceration of people of Japanese ancestry during World War II and their experiences in California.
“It has been a great honor to work with folks who wanted their family records preserved and that included the records and photographs of their time in incarceration camps—one of the great civil liberties failures in U.S. history,” says Greg Williams, director of the Gerth Archives and principal investigator of CSUJAD.
Know Justice, Know Peace Exhibition on View Now
The “Know Justice, Know Peace” exhibition demonstrates the advancements of activism and counterculture in Los Angeles as represented in the Gerth Archives. It features a variety of materials from the Archives’ Civil Rights Collection, AIDS Crisis, Watts Rebellion, Los Angeles Communist Party, as well as the political and countercultural photographs (1966-1970) of Jim Coke, Long Beach resident and CSUDH alum.
“With CSUDH’s history of activism arising out the Watts Rebellion, the purpose of this exhibition is to document the persistent focus Americans have on advancing activism when they identify injustices,” says Williams.
The exhibition is currently on view Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through December 2022 in the Leo F. Cain Library South, Room 1940.
Grant to Catalog L.A. Free Press Collection
The Gerth Archives & Special Collections has received a $150,000 grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)—the National Archives’ granting agency—to catalog and digitize the records of the Los Angeles Free Press/Arthur Kunkin Collection.
The collection, brought to the campus after being removed from the desert in 2021, consists of archives of the L.A. Free Press—one of the first underground newspapers in the United States—and its publisher, Art Kunkin.
“By essentially inventing the model that hundreds of underground newspapers adopted in the 1960s and 1970s, the Free Press broadened freedom of the press in this country and shook up journalism in Los Angeles,” Williams says. “When accessible, this collection will reveal a great deal of documentation on Kunkin’s vision for participatory democracy and inclusive journalism.”
The project will take 18 months and will result in a fully cataloged collection and some digital materials. Portions of the collection are already on display in the “Know Justice, Know Peace, 100 Years of Activism in the Archives” exhibition.