UC Davis
The Stockton Sikh Temple, which was built in 1912.

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — The Punjabi American Heritage Society and University of California, Davis will collaborate to launch one of the most extensive collections of Punjabi American pioneers’ memorabilia on Oct. 8.

The archive – called the Pioneering Punjabis Digital Archive – draws upon private collections of letters, diaries, interviews and photos from many Indian American families in the Yuba/Sutter County area of Central California, Nicole Ranganath, a curator and historian at UC Davis’ Middle East/South Asia Studies program, said.

Ranganath, who spearheaded the project alongside volunteers from the university and the Punjabi American Heritage Society, said the late Tejinder ‘Ted’ Sibia, a librarian who extensively chronicled the Sikh American community in the Central Valley via his photos, would be honored at unveiling ceremony at UC Davis.

Some of the most extensive contributions to the archive were donated by the family of the late Hari Singh Everest, a journalist who wrote extensively about India and the nascent Indian American community. Two years of Everest’s diaries were digitized for the archive, along with 500 articles – many written in Gurmukhi – and letters to the editors of several newspapers. Everest was also one of the first South Asian American teachers in the Sutter/Yuba County region.

Ten pioneering Punjabi-American families will also be honored as part of the exhibit — Ranganath said the archive will also feature curriculum to teach Punjabi American history at both the primary school and university levels. A Punjabi language resource section will also be offered, she added.

Sikhs were amongst the first of immigrant groups from India to settle in the U.S., they arrived in central California in the late 19th century and took up positions mainly in agriculture. U.S. law at the time forbade Asians from acquiring citizenship and purchasing land; thus, many early pioneers married Mexican women and purchased the land in their names.