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Viet Stories Oral History Project Now on Calisphere

News Date
August 29, 2022
By Austin Nguyen and Christina Acevedo


Viet Stories: Vietnamese American Oral History Project, a project that documents and preserves the experiences of first-generation Vietnamese Americans living in Southern California, has been migrated to Calisphere, an archival site that libraries use to host public content. This move makes the Viet Stories collection more readily available to the general public, improving access and search capabilities to one of the most frequently accessed digital collections in UCI's Special Collections & Archives.

More than 220 Viet Stories oral histories that include video and audio oral history recordings, transcripts in English and Vietnamese, and photographs are now on Calisphere. According to Jolene Beiser, UCI Libraries Special Collections archivist, there are an additional 200 oral histories yet to be processed and transcribed, that UCI Libraries hope to publish to Calisphere in the next few years.


The goal of the Viet Stories: Vietnamese American Oral History Project at UCI has been to gather and preserve the life stories of Vietnamese Americans in Southern California. Launched in 2011, the project is housed in the UCI Department of Asian American Studies in the School of Humanities and a collaboration with the UCI Libraries Southeast Asian Archive.

The project’s primary organizers, curator Dr. Thuy Vo Dang and professor Dr. Linda Trinh Vo, led a group of advisors and collaborators to document the experiences of first-generation Vietnamese Americans. As immigrants to the United States in the search for political freedom and an escape from the atrocities of war, the individuals depicted in the Viet Stories collection all struggled yet persevered against countless forms of societal alienation and degradation of self-worth. The histories and legacies of the Vietnamese diaspora remain a sensitive and important topic to those directly involved, and the Viet Stories collection captures the Vietnamese immigrant experience and the effects of these experiences on future generations.

Vian Nguyen, a student assistant and intern for the Viet Stories Oral History Project, reflected on her experience: “My favorite part about working on this project was getting to hear the stories of people in my community, as well as my parents’ and grandparents’ stories. This project opens opportunities for their voices to be heard.”

In regard to the reach and success of the Viet Stories Oral History Project, Vian also noted, “As both a student who has created oral histories from this archive and an intern who directly worked with curators and community members, I have seen the impact of oral histories on my family and the Vietnamese American community.”


The Calisphere collection helps to preserve and disseminate the voices of the Viet Stories project participants, making them available for people to study and reflect on. The site includes a keyword feature and filtering tools to enable search. UCI Libraries have also published a finding aid for the Viet Stories project records.

Beiser explained that the idea to transfer the project began in 2019 when UCISpace, a platform that formerly held the digital collection, began presenting barriers to access due to server issues . With an estimated 2,580,525 total visits (approximately 20,000 visit per month), the Viet Stories collection is by far the most frequently accessed digital collection in UCI's Special Collections & Archives. The migration to Calisphere ensures the collection will remain accessible to researchers and the community.


To learn more about the special collections within UCI Libraries, visit the Special Collections & Archives webpage.