On April 18, 1906, a savage earthquake and fire ruined San Francisco, destroying all the documents at City Hall. Chinese immigrants, denied the rights to immigrate to the United States as well as to become naturalized citizens,  recast themselves as Native-born sons by submitting falsified paperwork.  These "paper sons" soon were subjected to harsh interrogations by immigration officials bent on denying and deporting those claiming citizenship.  Ironically, the hundreds of cubic feet of documentation and photographs obtained and processed through the State are now housed within the archive collections and museums as physical historic reminders of a turbulent Asian American past.

On 00:00 January 1, 2000, many predict that digital fires will scourge the cyberscapes, nullifying the power of bits and bytes, and paper will once again reign supreme.  While the technophiles once told us that CDROMS and magnetic media would last "forever," who hasn't experienced the terror of a hard disk crash, a scratched CD, a computer virus which wiped out all one's stored data?

Yet one cannot deny the many positive attributes of the technology-enhanced digital bits.  The internet networked explosion and proliferation has made information much more accessible and portable, and mass storage capacities of digital devices makes storage of theis information much more compact when compared to their analog equivalents.  Is the tradeoff worthwhile?

This web project will examine the display of Asian American online archival resources.  How have papered documents been captured and transformed when digitized?  How have online curators redefined the object?  Who are the intended audience for these rsources? Will their digitized life enhance or diminish their longevity, cult- and use-values for their constituencies?

As different institutions have their own purposes for displaying Asian American archival resources, I will briefly examine and analyze four different types: Archival repositories, University Research Departments, Communty Museums, and Government funded museums. Is there a common structure which optimally presents this information?

Lastly, the analysis of these sites will inform the development and potential acquisition of the H.K. Yuen collection, a multimedia collection of photographs, audiotape, newspapers, and other paper ephemera of progressive movements occuring in the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily on the U.C. Berkeley campus.