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The Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience edited by Franklin Odo + Author Profile [in Bloomsbury Review]

Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American ExperienceGathering History for the Future: A Profile of Curator & Historian Franklin Odo

For decades, Franklin Odo has been a professional groundbreaker. He was the first from his Hawai’i high school to get to Princeton University, and once there, he was the first Asian American to break into The Ivy Club, the most prestigious, lily-white eating establishment on campus. While still a Ph.D. student back at Princeton (after a master’s stopover at Harvard), he coedited the first bona fide Asian American breakout text, Roots: An Asian American Reader, with Amy Tachiki, Eddie Wong, and Buck Wong.

Doctorate in hand, Odo wandered the academic halls with professorial gigs at Columbia, the University of Hawai’i, and the University of California at Los Angeles. Then in 1997, the venerable Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, plucked him to become the first-ever director of the newly created Asian Pacific American Program. Last year Odo became the first Asian American to assume the title of curator at the National Museum of American History. And high time it was. “Given our history in the United States, it’s a major step for the Smithsonian to finally acknowledge Asian Americans in this arena,” he says.

With so many firsts under his belt, it comes as no surprise that Odo has written the very first book to bring together the canon of documents that are of utmost importance to Asian American history. Released last year, The Columbia Documentary History of the Asian American Experience is a six-year project. Together with Gary Okihiro’s The Columbia Guide to Asian American History, published in 2001, the two titles offer a comprehensive overview of the Asian American experience in the United States. Both texts bear witness to a sense of entitlement that urges Asian Americans to claim an important portion of American history as their own; indeed, Asian Americans have long been vital participants in the making of American history, and continue to play a growing role in the future of this country. …[click here for more]

Author profile: The Bloomsbury Review, September/October 2003

Tidbit: Yup, this is our beloved Bossman, director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program! He keeps us all on our toes, that’s for sure!

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2003


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