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Share Your Immigrant Story and Help Shape Queens' History

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | September 1, 2015 8:42am
 The Queens Memory Project wants to hear from immigrants who settled in Queens.
The Queens Memory Project wants to hear from immigrants who settled in Queens.
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Queens Memory Project

QUEENS — Queens is constantly changing and immigrants from all over the world contribute to reshaping the borough.

Now, the Queens Memory Project, an initiative that seeks to record and preserve contemporary history of the borough, hopes to hear from various residents who chose Queens as their new home after immigrating from other countries.

The project, which launched several year ago in collaboration with the Queens Library and Queens College, has been collecting numerous stories from longtime residents whose families often lived in the borough for generations.

But the organizers are also hoping to get more immigrant stories from the borough where residents come from more than 120 countries and speak over 135 languages.

“People are sort of perceiving [the project] in the way that [the organizers] are only looking for people whose families has been here for 150 years,” said Joanne King, a spokeswoman for the library. “But they are looking for the contemporary story too, someone who immigrated from wherever they came from 15 years ago to tell about their immigrant experience: were they welcomed, did they feel pushed out, how did the neighborhood change?”

The library is organizing a series of free events this fall during which residents are invited to bring their family photos, documents and other memorabilia as well as to tell their story.

The organizers will scan their items and return the originals, the library said.

“Many items that can help add to the history of Queens are sitting in closets and basements all over our borough,” the library said in a statement. “Let Queens Memory help you take your place in history.”

Some of the stories, King said, will be recorded during the events. Residents will also receive a free flash drive containing digital copies of their materials. The scanned images will also be shared with the Digital Public Library of America

Locals can upload their pictures and stories directly to the website, but King said that not everyone has a scanner, and some people need help with the Internet.

Some of the events will be organized in collaboration with various ethnic groups to increase outreach.

Since 2013, the Queens Memory Project have gathered more than 1,800 images and audio records representing 50 neighborhoods in the borough, according to the Queens Library. They have also collected almost 300 oral histories from Queens residents.

The upcoming events will be held:

► at Queens Library at Woodhaven, 85-41 Forest Parkway, on Monday, Sept. 14 from 4 to 6 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 17 from 6 to 8 p.m.

► at Queens Library at St. Albans, 191-05 Linden Blvd., on Monday, Sept. 21 and Thursday, Sept. 24 from 6 to 8 p.m.

► at Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main St., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 6 to 8 pm and Sunday, Oct. 18, from noon to 4 p.m. This event will be organized in collaboration with Asian Americans for Equality.

► at Queens Library at Woodside, 54-22 Skillman Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 22, from noon to 2 p.m. This event will be organized in collaboration with Filipino group My Baryo, My Borough.

► at Queens Library at Forest Hills, 108-19 71st Ave., on Monday, Oct 26, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 31, from 2 to 5 p.m. This event will also be organized in collaboration with My Baryo, My Borough.

For additional information, go to www.queenslibrary.org or www.queensmemory.org.