Finding aid for the Sonia Sunoo papers 3023

Sarah cassone
USC Libraries East Asian Library
2018 April
Doheny Memorial Library
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California 90089-1825

Language of Material: English
Contributing Institution: USC Libraries East Asian Library
Title: Sonia Sunoo papers
creator: Sunoo, Sonia Shinn
Identifier/Call Number: 3023
Identifier/Call Number: 1597
Physical Description: 1 Linear Feet 1 bankers box
Date (inclusive): 1971-1998
Abstract: Sonia Shinn Sunoo was a Korean American teacher, researcher, and writer. This small collection consists primarily of Sunoo's oral history interview transcripts with early Korean immigrant picture brides (mail order brides). The collection also contains research materials regarding this topic in the form of correspondence, clippings, and notes.


Folders are arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Contents

The Sonia Sunoo papers, 1971-1998, consist primarily of oral history interview transcripts, as well as some research materials in the form of correspondence, clippings, and notes, created and collected by Sunoo and relating to Korean picture brides (mail order brides) who emigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. Shortly after 1910, there were more than 2,000 arranged marriages in the U.S. between older Korean men and younger brides.
This collection collects the interviews Sunoo conducted with these picture brides (all widowed and in their 80s), primarily between the years 1975-1977, as part of the UCLA funded Korean American Oral History Project. These interviews were published by the Korean American Oral History Project in the book "Korea Kaleidoscope: oral histories" in 1982, as well as in Sunoo's 2002 companion book entitled "Korean Picture Brides: 1903-1920: a collection of oral histories", which focuses specifically on the trials and experiences of the first generation of Korean immigrant women in America.
The collection also contains some research materials for Sunoo's Oregon Historical Quarterly published article entitled "Korean Women Pioneers of the Pacific Northwest", as well as general notes, clippings, and correspondence.

Biographical Note

Sonia Shinn Sunoo was a Korean American teacher, researcher, and writer. Her father left Korea for the United States in 1903, as part of the very first Koreans to emigrate. He worked on a sugar cane planation in Hawaii for two years before moving to California. Her mother left Korea at the age of nineteen as a picture bride to marry Sonia's father. Sonia was born in San Francisco in 1915 and grew up in Chinatown. She went to San Francisco State College where she majored in English and Biology. She also earned a M.A. in Human Development and Early Childhood Education.
In 1943, Sonia married Harold Sunoo. They had two children. Sonia taught Korean language at the University of Washington from 1943 to 1949. In 1951, she received a summer scholarship to attend Stanford for graduate work, but had to leave prior to completing her dissertation due to her husband's inability to find a job upon returning from oversees. After Harold was still unable to find teaching work, Sonia ended up helping him with his grocery store business in between her own research in the 1970s of Korean picture brides and early Korean immigrants as part of the Korean American Oral History Project. Both Sunoo and her husband also wrote articles in the 1970s and 1980s regarding the first Korean women immigrants in the in the United States. Sunoo's first book oral histories book was published in 1982.
An interview from 2001 revealed it was Sunoo's greatest wish to have her book on Korean picture brides published. Sunoo felt these women were courageous pioneers who sought escape and freedom from the Confucian strictures of Korea and that they were often misrepresented in their portrayal simply because they were marrying a stranger in the United States. Sunoo strived to tell the stories of these women's desire for freedom and education and reveal the true feminist values they represented. "Korean Picture Brides: 1903-1920: a collection of oral histories" was published on May 1, 2002.

Conditions Governing Access

COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE. Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of the Korean Heritage Library. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Korean Heritage Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

Preferred Citation

[Box/Folder# or Item name]. Sonia Sunoo papers, Collection no. 3023, Korean Heritage Library, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Sonia Sunoo.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Immigrants -- Korea -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Korean American women -- California -- Interviews -- Archival resources
Korean American women authors -- California -- Los Angeles -- Archival resources
Mail order brides -- Korea -- 20th century -- Archival resources
Oral histories (document genres)
Research (documents)
Sunoo, Sonia Shinn -- Archives
Ahn, Philip, 1905-1978

Box 1, Folder 1

Ahn, Young-ho (Joan Ahn - matchmaker, comical story) 1976

Box 1, Folder 2

Ahn, Seung-wha (Korean American oral history project) 1975-12-03

Box 1, Folder 3

Ahn, Philip [clipping] 1975-12-03

Box 1, Folder 4

Cha, Kyong-soo (Park Kyong-sein's sister) 1977-02-18

Box 1, Folder 5

Cha, Song-dal (died in LA 1989) 1975-12-03

Box 1, Folder 6

Chang, Lee Wook, Dr (Korean woman pioneers) 1981-1982

Box 1, Folder 7

Char, Edward (Yong-Chun) Ada (died March 1982) 1975-12-18

Box 1, Folder 8

Charr, Emsen 1975-1982

Box 1, Folder 9

Charr, Evelyn (née Young-sun Kim) 1975-1998

Box 1, Folder 10

Choy, Joseph undated

Box 1, Folder 11

Choy, Nung Yik 1976-07-28

Box 1, Folder 12

Chu, Kuang-Myong 1976-11

Box 1, Folder 13

Chu, Young-Han 1976-01

Box 1, Folder 14

Chun, Ho-taik (1904) 1976-01-31

Box 1, Folder 15

DeYoung, Henry, Dr. 1979

Box 1, Folder 16

DeYoung, Zona (Mrs. Henry de Young) 1979-1985

Box 1, Folder 17

Har, Sang-ok, Mr. and Mrs. Myong-Won (née Sook-ja Woo) 1980-1988

Box 1, Folder 18

Hyun, Chul 1976-01-20

Box 1, Folder 19

Kang, Young-sun, Dr. 1975-1994

Box 1, Folder 20

Kim, Choon-ha (Mrs) 1976-1994

Box 1, Folder 21

Kim, Choon-ha 1976-1983

Box 1, Folder 22

Kim, Dong-woo 1976, 1985

Box 1, Folder 23

Kim, Hei-won, Mrs. 1975-12-08

Box 1, Folder 24

Kim, H. Young-soon, Mrs. 1976

Box 1, Folder 25

Kim, James (wife Sarah refused interview) 1976-1977

Box 1, Folder 26

Kim, Kyeng-bo 1975-12-05

Box 1, Folder 27

Kim, Pil-kwon 1973-06-22

Box 1, Folder 28

Kim, Sarah, Rev. 1976-01-09

Box 1, Folder 29

Kim, Herbert 1976-01-07

Box 1, Folder 30

Kim, Hyong-soon 1977-01-25

Box 1, Folder 31

Kim, Sae-sun 1978

Box 1, Folder 32

Kim, Sam (Kyong-sam) 1971, 1977

Box 1, Folder 33

Kim, Sung-nak, Rev. 1975-1982

Box 1, Folder 34

Kim, Warren 1976

Box 1, Folder 35

Kim, Young-chul 1976-07-16

Box 1, Folder 36

Kown, Yong-ho 1976-01-09

Box 1, Folder 37

Kor Sch-role of Ch-Kmeth [church articles and clippings] 1977-1996

Box 1, Folder 38

Lee, Anna undated

Box 1, Folder 39

Lee, Bom-young 1976-01-02

Box 1, Folder 40

Lee, Chang-hei 1979

Box 1, Folder 41

Lee, Dai Wi, Rev. 1981

Box 1, Folder 42

Lee, Ke-man, Mrs. undated

Box 1, Folder 43

Lee, Mary Kwang-son Paik 1977

Box 1, Folder 44

Lee, Sundo 1976

Box 1, Folder 45

Lee, Thos sang-gi 1975

Box 1, Folder 46

Lee, Wha-mok (Mrs. Sun-do) 1975-12-19

Box 1, Folder 47

Lim, Mable 1975-12-09

Box 1, Folder 48

Lim, Doo Wha (Blanche) 1976

Box 1, Folder 49

Park, Maria (Mrs. Kwanboo, née Lim) undated

Box 1, Folder 50

Namkung, Hyok, Rev 1982-04-27

Box 1, Folder 51

Paik, Myeung-son 1976-1983

Box 1, Folder 52

Park, Ne-qun 1975-1979

Box 1, Folder 53

Park, Julian Rev. and Mrs. Mildred 1977-2002

Box 1, Folder 54

Rhee, Byong-uk 1976

Box 1, Folder 55

Shin, Tong-gi and (Mrs) Han So-je, M.D. 1976-01-12

Box 1, Folder 56

Song, Leo 1975, 1986

Box 1, Folder 57

Sunoo, Rosa 1975-11-28

Box 1, Folder 58

Whang, S., Mrs. 1971, 1977

Box 1, Folder 59

Whang, Sa-sun 1971, 1977

Box 1, Folder 60

Yang, Choo-Eun 1976

Box 1, Folder 61

Yoon, Do-Yun 1975