Finding aid for the Sonia Sunoo papers 3023
USC Libraries East Asian Library
Doheny Memorial Library
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles, California 90089-1825
Language of Material:
USC Libraries East Asian Library
Title: Sonia Sunoo papers
Sunoo, Sonia Shinn
Identifier/Call Number: 3023
Identifier/Call Number: 1597
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.
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.
[Box/Folder# or Item name]. Sonia Sunoo papers, Collection no. 3023, Korean Heritage Library, USC Libraries, University of
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)
Sunoo, Sonia Shinn -- Archives
Ahn, Philip, 1905-1978
Box 1, Folder 1
Ahn, Young-ho (Joan Ahn - matchmaker, comical story)
Box 1, Folder 2
Ahn, Seung-wha (Korean American oral history project)
Box 1, Folder 3
Ahn, Philip [clipping]
Box 1, Folder 4
Cha, Kyong-soo (Park Kyong-sein's sister)
Box 1, Folder 5
Cha, Song-dal (died in LA 1989)
Box 1, Folder 6
Chang, Lee Wook, Dr (Korean woman pioneers)
Box 1, Folder 7
Char, Edward (Yong-Chun) Ada (died March 1982)
Box 1, Folder 9
Charr, Evelyn (née Young-sun Kim)
Box 1, Folder 11
Choy, Nung Yik
Box 1, Folder 14
Chun, Ho-taik (1904)
Box 1, Folder 16
DeYoung, Zona (Mrs. Henry de Young)
Box 1, Folder 17
Har, Sang-ok, Mr. and Mrs. Myong-Won (née Sook-ja Woo)
Box 1, Folder 19
Kang, Young-sun, Dr.
Box 1, Folder 20
Kim, Choon-ha (Mrs)
Box 1, Folder 23
Kim, Hei-won, Mrs.
Box 1, Folder 24
Kim, H. Young-soon, Mrs.
Box 1, Folder 25
Kim, James (wife Sarah refused interview)
Box 1, Folder 28
Kim, Sarah, Rev.
Box 1, Folder 30
Box 1, Folder 32
Kim, Sam (Kyong-sam)
Box 1, Folder 33
Kim, Sung-nak, Rev.
Box 1, Folder 35
Box 1, Folder 37
Kor Sch-role of Ch-Kmeth [church articles and clippings]
Box 1, Folder 39
Box 1, Folder 42
Lee, Ke-man, Mrs.
Box 1, Folder 43
Lee, Mary Kwang-son Paik
Box 1, Folder 46
Lee, Wha-mok (Mrs. Sun-do)
Box 1, Folder 48
Lim, Doo Wha (Blanche)
Box 1, Folder 49
Park, Maria (Mrs. Kwanboo, née Lim)
Box 1, Folder 50
Namkung, Hyok, Rev
Box 1, Folder 51
Box 1, Folder 53
Park, Julian Rev. and Mrs. Mildred
Box 1, Folder 55
Shin, Tong-gi and (Mrs) Han So-je, M.D.
Box 1, Folder 58
Whang, S., Mrs.