For young Minnesota immigrants, Facebook more than a place to gossip

December 26, 2010 § Leave a comment

For many teens, Facebook offers a place to gossip and connect with friends, but for young immigrants, it provides something more. The social networking site has become a hub for discussions over whether to listen to elders’ dating advice, carry on family traditions, or return to their native countries. The conversations provide a real-time glimpse at how young immigrants struggle to establish their own identities. A new digital archive at the Univ. of Minnesota aims to preserve these exchanges for future historians. The Minnesota 2.0 archive includes pages of publicly-accessible Facebook writings of 1st and 2nd generation Somali, Hmong and Mexican immigrants. Donna Gabaccia, the director of Immigration History Research Center, the organization overseeing the project, said the archive could transform the way historians study the immigrant experience. “The voices of young people are rarely found in archives,” Gabaccia said. “What we have in archives are usually writings by adults. Sometimes you get a diary from a young person, but what we know about the lives of immigrant young people of the past is usually retrospective.” Students working on the project spent months monitoring Facebook “fan” and “group” pages for interesting conversations. They collected the best pages for inclusion in the new digital archive. (Minnesota Public Radio)

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