The Autry Files

May 24, 2021

Music and Memories: A Love Letter to Chinatown


By Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla, Library Collections Assistant

It is a weekday morning, and I am exploring a playlist titled “Chinese Rap Collection 2021,” by user XHZY on Spotify. The music keeps me company and helps me focus as I settle into the workday. A song by Vava, a rapper from Ya’an, Sichuan, China catches my attention and I switch over to the artist page so I can listen to more of her work. The second song under the “Popular” section of her page, 我的新衣 (wǒ de xīn yī) (My New Swag) begins with a rich instrumental section featuring traditional Chinese... Read more

May 19, 2021

Kimchi Fried Rice at the End of the Jar

Community / DIY

By Jen Kim, Conservator

So grateful am I for my colleague Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla’s post on the AAPI experience and comfort food, that I am chiming in with my family’s own style of kimchi fried rice. It’s a very basic version of the dish that’s great for using up leftovers. In fact, it’s better with leftovers. Like Christina, I don’t have a formal recipe, and no measurements, but hopefully this description can impart some sense of how I make it.

I always use older kimchi (there are many types but I’m referring to the bright red stuff with napa... Read more

May 18, 2021

How I Owe My Life to Spam (Plus a Recipe for Spam Fried Rice)

Community / DIY

By: Keisha Raines, Communications and Digital Marketing Manager

There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground for Spam. You either think it’s weird (which it is) and gross or you love it and think it’s delicious (which it also is.) For my family in war-torn Guam, it was salvation. Without Spam, I might not be here today. To understand how canned pork plays into my creation, you need to know how it got to Guam.

To say the residents of Guam love Spam is an understatement. The people of Guam eat an average of 16 cans per person annually, more Spam per capita than... Read more

May 18, 2021

Garlic, SPAM, & Rice: A Comfort Food Trinity

Community / DIY
By Liza Posas, Head of Research Services and Archives

I am joining in on the fried rice game with my Autry colleagues Jennifer, Yuki, Keisha, and of course the woman who led the charge, Christina.

Like my colleagues, my version of fried rice is derived from something that is as familial as it is familiar. Growing up, my father was the fried rice maker in the house. And our fried rice was synonymous to GARLIC fried rice that included just a few ingredients, basic instructions, and the promise of comfort food savoriness (or dare I say “umami”).

Dad’s Garlic Fried... Read more

May 13, 2021

Spam Fried Rice for the Soul

Community / DIY

By Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla, Library Collections Assistant

The years of our coronavirus, 2020 and 2021, have been hard on us all—including Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, targeted as scapegoats for the COVID-19 crisis from the start. Given the co-morbidity of disease and racial violence, from anti-Jewish pogroms during the Black Death to 19th century anti-Asian racism during the 1817 Cholera Pandemic , I am hardly surprised, yet... Read more

April 20, 2021

Women in the Archives: Part 1

Collections / Library and Archives / Revealing Women in the Archives
By Christina Lehua Hummel-Colla, Library Collections Assistant

There is always a need to revisit archives and one of the great things about archives is that it is the raw materials that can be reinterpreted over and over again across time to create another story that relates to the now. And that’s one of the reasons why research is called research is because you’re searching over and over again. So, archives are not dusty, static elements for you to just observe, archives are really there for you to engage with and they’re dynamic and they also have a pulse... Read more

April 5, 2021

The Zoom Classroom: Online Learning During a Pandemic

Community / The Autry's Collecting Community History Initiative
By Marina Nye, Curatorial Research Assistant and PhD Student, UCLA History Department

Students and teachers across the United States have had to adjust to a new online learning environment due to COVID-19. From kindergarteners to college students, this new Zoom platform has created unprecedented challenges. The submissions to the Collecting Community History Initiative (CCHI) shed light on student’s day-to-day online schooling.

Students are doing their best to conduct business as usual in a home setting. Elementary school student Jimmy explains “my mom is the ‘principal’ and my dad... Read more

April 5, 2021

What’s Cooking in Quarantine?: The Importance of Culinary Arts During the Stay-at-Home Order

Community / The Autry's Collecting Community History Initiative
By Marina Nye, Curatorial Research Assistant and PhD Student, UCLA History Department

Not even a year ago, a baking craze swept over the nation as Americans were confined to their homes. Everyone sought new hobbies to occupy their time during the stay-at-home order such as cooking and baking. Sourdough starter kits flew off the shelves and bakers exchanged family recipes in online forums. The submissions to the Collecting Community History Initiative elucidate how important baking was during unprecedented times.

Americans gravitated towards culinary arts because baking is often... Read more

March 17, 2021

Piecing Together the Story of Lottie L. Tillotson

Collections / Library and Archives / Revealing Women in the Archives
By Alejandra Gaeta, Associate Archivist/Librarian

“Little is known about Lottie Tillotson.”

It was that first sentence that caught my attention and that ultimately led me down the rabbit hole of research. It is such an unusual statement to have written in a finding aid, a document that is meant to provide a summary of succinct facts that is useful for researchers. (A finding aid is a document that provides information about archival collections, including biographical information of the people it involves, descriptions of the types of materials it contains and how the collection is... Read more

March 8, 2021

Ingenuity in Scarcity: Sustainable Solutions to Material Shortages during the Pandemic (The Autry’s Collecting Community History Initiative)

The Autry's Collecting Community History Initiative / Collections / Community / DIY

Nicole Mitchell: “I custom-designed, and dyed antibacterial hemp face covers, Made-in-LA. I chose hemp because of its natural antibacterial properties, UV, and mold resistance. Hemp fabric gets softer and more durable with every wash cycle. Our first production runs, I decided to keep a minimalistic design with no logo or prints because our top priority was to produce quality protection for the people a quick as possible. Urbane face covers represent a movement of unity not only to protect our global health but to consume items where the product lifecycle will benefit... Read more