Preservation and Access: Common Heritage

Period of Performance

5/1/2017 - 12/31/2018

Funding Totals

$12,000.00 (approved)
$11,285.00 (awarded)

Hmong Heritage Collection

FAIN: PY-253045-17

Catawba County Library (Newton, NC 28658-3331)
Siobhan Cremins Loendorf (Project Director: May 2016 to August 2019)

Five digitization days and a variety of public programming events to capture the memories and artifacts of Hmong community members in Catawba County, just east of North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Home to the fourth largest population of Hmong immigrants in the United States, Catawba attracted many refugees from Laos after the Vietnam War. This project seeks to document the experiences and contributions of the Hmong community through a partnership between the Catawba County Library, the Historical Association of Catawba County, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and two community organizations, Hmong Southeast Puavpheej and Hmong Carolinas, Inc. Members of the Hmong community would be invited to digitize their documents, photos, and letters, and encouraged to provide oral histories for future generations. All of the cultural heritage items, digitized with permission, would be saved on the library’s computer network and published via the Digital Heritage NC website to enable broader public access. Among other public programs planned, the library would host a presentation in June 2017 to showcase traditional Hmong dances and clothing.

The Catawba County Library will collaborate with the Historical Association of Catawba County and the Digital Heritage Center of NC to collect and curate a digital collection of the Hmong community's cultural heritage, making it accessible to the public by publishing the collection on the Digital Heritage website.  The library will host five collection days to gather materials and capture oral histories of our Hmong community members.  To further inform our larger community about Hmong traditions and history, the library will host three adult programs and three book discussions.  Hmong cultural heritage is currently underrepresented in our cultural institutions. This project recognizes the value of their culture and the importance of their history of migration and community building. The goals of this project are aligned with the mission of the local Hmong community organizations to secure and preserve Hmong art and culture and to practice, promote and coordinate cultural activities.

Media Coverage

County library, museum work to preserve Hmong culture (Media Coverage)
Author(s): John Bailey
Publication: Hickory Daily Record
Date: 3/7/2018
Abstract: This article talked about the NEH Hmong Keeb Kwm project and shared success stories from the first collection day. It included pictures of items that were digitized and quotes from the project team staff.

Hmong Keeb Kwm Scan Share Save (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Houa Yang
Publication: NC Preservation Wordpress Blog
Date: 12/6/2018
Abstract: These are the slides from a powerpoint presentation done at the NC Preservation conference in Raleigh, NC.

Associated Products

Hmong Keeb Kwm: The Hmong Heritage Project (Web Resource)
Title: Hmong Keeb Kwm: The Hmong Heritage Project
Author: Houa Yang
Abstract: Who are the Hmong? There is a large presence of a little known Asian group of people called Hmong that reside in Catawba County and the surrounding counties of North Carolina. North Carolina is home to the fourth largest Hmong population in the United States. Hmong, a sub-ethnic group from Southeast Asia have lived in the United States since 1975, as refugees of the Vietnam War. Identifying the need to recognize and include this population as a part of the local history of Catawba County, the Catawba County Library in partnership with the Historical Association of Catawba County, applied for and received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete a preservation endeavor, known as Hmong Keeb Kwm — “keeb kwm” being the Hmong word that embodies history, tradition, and culture. During the spring and summer of 2018, five collection events took place at the Catawba County Library branches and at True Life Alliance Church, a local Hmong assembly. There was an all-call for Hmong community members to bring their traditional artifacts, immigration documents, letters, photographs, and share their personal oral histories to be recorded. Collaborations were established with local Hmong organizations, such as Hmong Southeast Puavpheej, which helped in the success of the project. Culturally enriching programming such as a performing arts showcase, a panel discussion, and book discussions took place at the library. Through Hmong Keeb Kwm artifacts were collected from 16 participants, yielding over 145 digitized items, and 14 oral history recordings. All artifacts were returned to the original owners but a display of traditional artifacts that were donated to the Historical Association of Catawba County, can be found as part of the Unpacking exhibit, housed in the History Museum of Catawba County in Newton, North Carolina. The digital collection is made available online through a partnership with DigitalNC.
Year: 2018
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: The cultural heritage items collected through the Hmong-Keeb-Kwm project were digitized and sent to Digital NC. This site is a collection on the Digital NC website.

Hmong Keeb Kwm: Scan Share Save (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Hmong Keeb Kwm: Scan Share Save
Author: Houa Yang
Abstract: This powerpoint presentation introduced the Hmong people and our common heritage preservation project Hmong Keeb Kwm: Scan Share Save. We described the Hmong people and how they came to live in Catawba County and then we talked about how through this project we preserved and celebrated their history and built community.
Date: 11-16-2018
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: This is the NCPC conference archives.
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: Photos from the 2018 NCPC conference that show project members talking about Hmong Keeb Kwm.
Conference Name: North Carolina Preservation Conference

Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father Book Discussion slideshow (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father Book Discussion slideshow
Abstract: North Carolina is home to the fourth largest population of Hmong in the United States, with the largest concentration living in Catawba County and the surrounding areas. Join us this summer at the library as we read The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father by Kao Kalia Yang and Bamboo Among the Oaks: Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans by Mai Neng Moua. These illuminating titles will provide insight into Hmong history and culture.
Author: Houa Yang
Date: 06/25/2018
Location: Catawba County Library System at the main library, Southwest Library, and Sherrills Ford-Terrell Library
Primary URL: http://