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About this collection

The Filipino American Library Collection consists of materials owned by the Filipino American Library in Historic Filipinotown that were transferred to the University of Southern California Special Collections in 2017.

The Filipino-American Library was founded in a church basement in 1985 as the Pilipino American Reading Room and Library (PARRAL) in a neighborhood close to Echo Park by Helen Agcaoili Summers Brown, affectionately referred to as “Auntie Helen” in the local community. In January of 2000 PARRAL moved to a new location on Temple Street and was renamed the Filipino American Library (FAL). It contained the largest collection of Filipino and Filipino American reading materials at more than 6,000 titles, and promoted literacy and cultural engagement through many community programs and exhibits. When the FAL closed its doors, its collections were dispersed among the USC Libraries and the Echo Park Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library.

Items selected by affiliates of the FAL to be made digitally available include lantern slides, bound volumes, photographic prints, maps, and loose printed materials that all reveal the Filipino American experience spanning life in the Philippines, contributions by Filipino Americans in the World War II effort, and the acculturation and growth of the Filipino American community in Southern California. Materials are written in English, Tagalog, and Ilocano. Highlights of the Filipino American Library Collection include:

  • Items commemorating Filipino veterans from World War II, including publications and a certificate of commendation from President Clinton
  • Bilingual short stories written by staff from the Asian American Bilingual Center about Asian immigrants and their journey and settlement to the United States
  • Reports, summaries, and recommendations surrounding the health, education, and welfare of Asian Americans
  • Ephemeral materials from the Philippines detailing geography, culture, religion, and life in the Philippines in the early 20th century

Thanks to generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the USC Libraries are digitizing this collection for public access as part of the L.A. as Subject Community Histories Digitization Project.

 
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