“The history of South Asians in the United States is not a history that you learn about in textbooks, it’s not something that you see in museums or learn about in popular media,” says Samip Mallick, executive director of South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). “But it’s a history that’s integrally a part of American history — a really rich history — one that was in danger of being lost.”
Mallick and his organization hope to preserve that history through SAADA, a digitized archive of South Asian American materials available online through the organization’s website. SAADA itself was co-founded in 2008 by Mallick and Michelle Caswell in order to document and provide access to the diverse and relatively unknown stories of South Asian Americans.
Mallick, whose parents immigrated from India in the 1960s, left Chicago this past summer and relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, bringing SAADA to the City of Brotherly Love. Since then, he’s been collaborating with other nonprofits like Asian Arts Initiative and has worked with organizations like Drexel University to feature images from their collections.
“South Asians have made incredibly rich contributions to American culture and society that haven’t really been recognized,” explains Mallick when Gino Barrica and I interviewed him for our podcast, Talkadelphia. “[We’re] making sure people know about this history. Even within in the South Asian community, people don’t always recognize the importance.”
Currently the archive includes 1000+ items. Every week, The Aerogram will continue to feature original images from SAADA. To view our past postings, click here.
SAADA’s work is relevant and important today, and it will continue to be relevant and important tomorrow. We need to preserve the history of South Asian Americans for the next generation and beyond. SAADA needs staff, researchers, office space, digitization equipment, and the right technology. Please consider donating to SAADA today.