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Stories from the Sea.

The Newport Beach Public Library Foundation in collaboration with UCI Humanities Center is pleased to virtually present a new experimental program called Stories from the Sea: An Oral History Project. We are teaming up with a small group of literary journalism, history, and humanities students and professors to create a multi-generational, multi-media oral history project/presentation documenting our community members’ stories.

Our focus area is the Newport Beach bay and coastline. We are looking to uncover stories about living, working, and enjoying the sea and its nearby environs, development and conservancy of the shoreline and coastal ways, untold stories of indigenous and people of color histories, and other interests the students will be bringing to the table.

We are seeking community elders with compelling, focused tales and the willingness to share any documentation they might have in the form of photos, ephemera, film, or objects that the students can scan or reproduce. We are seeking the personal side of history and are looking for enthusiastic individuals who can commit a little time to spend with a young person via the phone, Zoom, or other virtual platforms.

If you are interested or know of someone who might be interested, please fill out the attached online questionnaire by clicking HERE.

If you have any questions, please contact NBPLF Director of Programs Kunga Wangmo-Upshaw at or 949-717-3818.

More About Stories from the Sea: An Oral History Project

Oceans are rarely neutral places as they evoke the human imagination, arouse emotions of fear and nostalgia, and are sites of pleasure, contemplation, heroism, industry, and death. “Stories from the Sea” will be part of NBPLF and UCI Humanities Center’s 2020-21 exploration of how oceans and waterways have shaped humanities-based inquiry and cultural production. Now an affluent neighborhood and tourist destination, Newport Beach, possesses a layered and palimpsestic history—from the native lands populated by Acjachemen (Junaneño) and the Tongva (Gabrielino) peoples, being part of a Spanish land-grant, Japanese families participating in commercial farming and fishing industry prior to WWII, to contemporary conservation issues surrounding sand erosion, sea-level rise, and airport pollution.

The goal of “Stories from the Sea” is to create a multi-generational exchange between students and community elders to capture first-hand-accounts of the local coastal area. The student’s research will culminate in a final project (a public presentation either in person or online) that will become part of the Newport Beach Public Library’s (NBPL) local history collection, exist on the NBPLF website, and be made available to our partners’ archives. In addition to the one-on-one interviews, students will learn about the archives at Sherman Library & Gardens, Newport Beach Historical Society, Balboa Museum, Newport Beach Conservancy, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous People and among others.

Project leaders/Instructors are Judy Tzu-Chun Wu, Director of UCI Humanities Center; Meg Linton, CEO NBPLF/Writer/Curator; Kunga Wangmo-Upshaw, NBPLF Director of Programs; Dr. Patricia Pierson, UCI Associate Director of Literary Journalism; Krystal Tribbett, Curator OC Regional History, Research Librarian for OC, Vinayak Chaturvedi, Associate Professor of History and UCI History Department Internship Program, and many others.

This program is organized by UCI Humanities Center and the Newport Beach Public Library Foundation.

This program is funded by a generous grant from the Isidore and Penny Myers Foundation.

This project was made possible, in part, with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.