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Celebrate Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage and History This May

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and to celebrate, we’re taking a look through our City Archives & Special Collections to honor the history and heritage of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in the New Orleans area.

These two photos are from 1906, which show the shrimp platforms of Manila Village –– a settlement of Chinese and Filipino sailors, fishermen, and laborers located on an island in Barataria Bay established in the 1870s.

The photos –– showing Quong Son Platform and Chung Fat Platform, respectively –– were taken on July 7, 1906, during a day trip to Grand Isle to celebrate the New Orleans Horticultural Society’s 21st anniversary.

These are some of the only known photographs documenting the raised shrimp platforms of Manila Village, which was destroyed in 1965 during Hurricane Betsy. The location is now underwater, but Manila Village’s influence on the shrimping industry, as well as its now-common stilted homes, would prove long-lasting.

Louisiana is also believed to be home to one of the United States’ first permanent Asian American settlements. Called Saint Malo, the fishing village was established in the 1830s on the eastern shore of Lake Borgne. It was destroyed by a hurricane in 1915.


Our Vertical Files and Local Serials Collection holds thousands of magazines, comic books, flyers, and other publications, including this program from the 1984 Asian/Pacific American Heritage Festival, which took place during the infamous 1984 World’s Fair. 

It also contains issues of “Dat Hua,” a local Vietnamese-language magazine that listed resources for community organizations provided by the Associated Catholic Charities.

You can also celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with these book selections that highlight the culture, heritage, and experiences across the Asian, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian diaspora:

APAHM Reads for Adults

APAHM Reads for Youth

Spotlight on AAPI Authors:

For the past two years, the Library has partnered with VAYLA, a New Orleans-based nonprofit that incubates AAPI leaders for a more just tomorrow, and are committed to activating tomorrow’s AAPI leaders in New Orleans and beyond. VAYLA works to engender leadership to address social inequities through an anti-racist, Queer, Feminist lens, with projects like “Rooting Storms: Remembering What Remains.” This ongoing storytelling and reimagining data equity project aims to capture Asian American Pacific Islander diasporic stories in New Orleans and the Gulf South, during rapidly increasing Climate Crises and ongoing Environmental Racism through Storytelling.

VAYLA’s Executive Director, Jacqueline Thanh, MSW, started this project through the inaugural Harvard University Climate Justice Design Fellowship.

“This is a living breathing archive that intends to create dialogue with storytellers and community members,” Thanh said. “Through narrative plentitude and AAPI stories we can redefine data equity, mobility, and sovereignty for Asian Americans Pacific Islanders in New Orleans and beyond.”

VAYLA’s web-based story archive weaves across cultural and generational lines, languages, and borders. The project “seeks to acknowledge climate trauma and make visible the invisible labor and displacement that generations of Asian American Pacific Islanders have experienced and continue to experience in Greater New Orleans and the Gulf South.”

From 2000 to the present, at least 28 tropical or subtropical cyclones affected the U.S. state of Louisiana, which has a population of roughly 76,000 Asian-identifying residents, according to the latest U.S. Census.

New Orleans’ current population is roughly 391,000 people, but data conversations about the racial and ethnic backgrounds of our city often don’t include information about Asian Americans. Rooting Storms hopes to reimagine data and advocacy methods for AAPI populations that are seldom represented in quantitative and qualitative data, as these communities experience climate inequities, environmental racism, and data erasure.

Visit to explore these stories and find out how you can build on this project with your own.

Writing Tips to Survive NaNoWriMo 

November is here, and that means NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month. The New Orleans Public Library is hosting workshops throughout the month to connect you with other local writers to share thoughts, struggles, successes, and writing tips.

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