About SEAAdoc

SEAAdoc is an educational resource of the Southeast Asian Archive at the UC Irvine Libraries focusing on post-1975 refugees and immigrants from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam and the communities they have developed in the United States.   It contains 1,500 visual images and 4,000 pages of searchable text selected from the Archive to represent a cross section of our holdings.  SEAAdoc documents the exodus of Southeast Asian refugees and immigrants from their homelands, their experiences in Asian refugee camps, and subsequent resettlement in the United States.  Other materials reveal cultural, economic, educational, political, and social aspects of the new Southeast Asian American communities that have developed, and continue to grow, in the United States.

SEAAdoc has two primary sections: 

READ: A narrative introduction to the field of Southeast Asian American Studies. This is a useful point of entry for those unfamiliar with the field.

FIND: Keyword searching and guided browsing of all materials in SEAAdoc. Some of the areas of greatest strength are highlighted below.

Several other sections of SEAAdoc are present to help with its use: teach offers resources to facilitate classroom teaching; help answers basic questions about the site; and reproduction provides guidance for ordering copies of images and documents, as well as in obtaining permission for their re-use.

Types of Material

The visual component of SEAAdoc is very strong, since the pictorial imagery is central in today’s teaching and learning methodologies. Click on FIND and select “Browse by format” to retrieve a set of all Photographic prints, Paintings, Posters, Maps, and other visual media. Textual materials such as Books and articles, Ephemera, Oral histories, and other media also can be browsed.

Photographs of many aspects of Southeast Asian American life from 1975 to the early 2000s are SEAAdoc’s greatest strength. These include scenes of festivals, musicians, dancers, religious ceremonies, business establishments, community and family events, refugee camps and early resettlement scenes.

Visual documentation is especially strong in the Cultural Practices category, including topics such as Mien rituals, traditional Lao Buddhist ceremonies, New Year and Tet festivities, and family events such as weddings and funerals.

Ethnic Groups

Click on FIND and select “Browse by ethnic group” to retrieve a set of all SEAAdoc materials on Vietnamese Americans, Cambodian Americans, Laotian Americans, Hmong Americans, and other groups of Southeast Asian origin who were involved in the post-War diaspora. 

The two ethnicities with the largest number of hits are Laotian Americans and Vietnamese Americans. This is contrary to the total holdings of the Southeast Asian Archive where, in general, holdings on Vietnamese Americans are strongest due to the more extensive publishing about and from that community. Materials on Iu Mien people, Hmong Americans, and Cambodian Americans are also fairly well represented in SEAAdoc. Effort has been made to include materials on as many ethnic groups as possible. Thus, materials on smaller groups such as the Lahu, Khmu, and Cham also are present. When browsing by subject, Cultural practices and Social Aspects are the strongest subtopics for all ethnicities.


Click on FIND and select “Browse by topic” to retrieve materials on subjects matching topical essays in the READ section. Of the six broad topics, Cultural Practices and Social Aspects have the most materials, followed by Refugees and Immigrants, Political Issues, Economic Experiences, and Educational Conditions, in that order.

Each of these broad topical areas may be limited by a variety of subtopics (pull down choices from the “Optional Subtopics” menu).

Social Aspects focuses on issues such as resettlement policies, family, health, and social services. Here can be found a number of agency and government reports, brochures and ephemera from ethnic organizations.

A unique feature of the Refugees and Immigrants section is the original artwork created by Vietnamese refugees in the Hong Kong camps. Created as a means to draw attention to their plight, these paintings portray the exiles’ life in detention, including scenes of home, longing for freedom, and political feelings. Further documentation of life in the refugee camps is also provided by photographs, reports of camps visits by various organizations, and images of artifacts used by people in the camps.

Political Issues documents the 1999 Hi-Tek demonstrations that took place in Little Saigon, California, in both visual imagery and words. SEAAdoc also includes materials on electoral politics, human rights, and detention and deportation.

Browsing the category Economic Experiences retrieves materials about employment and social welfare. Photographs of Southeast Asian American businesses and agriculture are also available.

The category Educational Conditions, while containing only a small number of items, includes textual materials and ephemera, principally focusing on students.