In 2022, the Evanston History Center began a partnership with the Kitchen Table Stories Project to establish a local Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander (ASPA) archive. One goal of the project is to shine a brighter light on ASPA history in Evanston. The project, called “Placemaking,” is an ongoing endeavor.
Despite the longtime presence of ASPA individuals and families in Evanston, the city’s ASPA history has not been granted the attention or focus of our local histories and archives. Today, over 10% of Evanston’s population identifies as Asian, South Asian, and/or Pacific Islander, but the ASPA community has not been represented in the mainstream historical record as widely as it deserves. This absence can reinforce the perpetual “foreigner” myth which has often and historically been associated with ASPA identities, and it also acts as a means by which a community’s history – its stories, contributions, and biographies – are muted or even erased.
In an effort to document, share, and preserve Evanston’s ASPA history, the Evanston History Center and the Kitchen Table Stories Project are engaging in an ongoing project to research that history, gather stories from the local ASPA community, and preserve and share this history today and into the future. From artifacts, biographies, and stories to accounts of immigration and refugee journeys and personal testimonies, this collected history will be housed in the Evanston History Center and shared as part of the Kitchen Table Stories Project.
The goal of this project is not only to ensure that ASPA history in Evanston is uncovered, preserved, and shared, but also to create a living archive, with resources for families, students, and educators. This is particularly important in the wake of the 2021 passage of the TEAACH Act (Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History) in Illinois. The law requires that Asian American history be taught in public schools starting in the 2022-2023 school year. Illinois is the first state in the nation to hold such a requirement.
Tell Us Your Stories!
Please use this submission form to add to the archives by telling us your stories. You can also email Jenny Thompson, PhD, Director of Education at the Evanston History Center to share your stories: email@example.com.
The form can be found at: https://forms.gle/Egnye8HFajVGYnnd8
About the participants: Founded by artist and educator Melissa Raman Molitor, the Kitchen Table Stories Project is a multimedia healing justice project centering on the voices and narratives of the local Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander diaspora. The Evanston History Center is a non-profit museum and education center which features an extensive local history archive.