At Risk Stories

At Risk Stories

The (#) oral histories in the NIAM Oral History Project collection were recorded in an effort to expand on the relatively small cross-section of Indian American community represented in earlier projects, by incorporating personal narratives from younger and more diverse narrators. Between 2020 and 2021, volunteers and museum staff conducted structured interviews with a wide array of members of the Chicago Indian American community. Each oral history consists of audio recordings, which average approximately one hour in length, and a transcript. Major themes include:

Mr. Santimoy Banerjee (At Risk Stories)

Santimoy Banerjee, 80, is a philanthropist and retired biochemist. The interview includes discussion of his training in the 1960s in the growing field of biochemistry at the University of Calcutta Bose Institute and at Harvard...

Ms. Mekhala Banerjee (At Risk Stories)

Mekhala Banerjee, 73, is a retired cancer research lab technician and an author. The interview includes discussion of her childhood in Burdwan, outside of Calcutta, her arranged marriage, trouble learning English when she moved to...

Ms. Krishna Chakrabarthy (At Risk Stories)

Krishna Chakrabarthy, 80, is a retired biochemist, college lecturer, and active member of the Bengali community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of her youth in Gujarat, her father’s influence on her decision to study in the United States, her arranged marriage, and her and...

Dr. Mallikarjuna Rao and Dr. Satyavathi Anne (At Risk Stories)

Mallikarjuna Rao, 80, and Satyavathi Anne, 79, are retired pathologists, both born and raised in villages in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, but they did not meet until medical school when their marriage was...

Dr. Upendranath Nimmagada (At Risk Stories)

Upendranath Nimmagada, 79, is a retired surgeon and active administrator of a medical school he co-founded in his home state in India. The interview includes discussion of his early life during which his father died and his family was supported by the local village, his...

Ms. Shimmi Chandra (At Risk Stories)

Shimmi Chandra, 85, is a retired real estate agent and one of the pioneering members of the Indian American community in the United States. She arrived in 1959 with her husband and they founded Indian...

Dr. Umesh Sharma (At Risk Stories)

Umesh Sharma, 81, is a general surgeon who retired as chief of staff at Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, Illinois. The interview includes discussion of his childhood and decision to go to medical school, his...

Ms. Prem Sharma (At Risk Stories)

Prem Sharma, 77, is a pioneer member of Chicago’s Indian American community, the founder of Apna Ghar, a domestic violence support service for immigrant women, and has played a leading role in the Indian women’s community since the late 1970s. The interview includes discussion of...

Mr. Gyan Agarwal (At Risk Stories)

Gyan Agarwal, 81, is a retired professor of electrical engineering and one of the founding members of the Indian American community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of his journey from a remote village to a professor of electrical engineering in Chicago.

Ms. Harpreet Datt (At Risk Stories)

Harpreet Datt, 70, is a product manager and active member of the Chicago Indo-American community. The interview includes discussion of her rebellious younger years and her appreciation for Indian culture.

Dr. Arvind Menon (At Risk Stories)

Arvind Menon is one of the pioneers of the Indian community in Chicago; being a very successful physician who came to the US when there was high demand for doctors from abroad in the late...

Ms. Lakshmi Menon (At Risk Stories)

Lakshmi Menon, 75, is a pioneer in the Indian American cultural heritage sphere who has been a part of countless efforts to build bridges between her community and others.

Ms. Urmilla Chawla (At Risk Stories)

Urmilla Chawla, 77, is a retired school teacher, journalist, and author. The Chawlas are a pioneer family in the Chicao Indo-American community. The interview includes discussion of memories of her family fleeing their home in...

Dr. Kamal Chawla (At Risk Stories)

Kamal Chawla, 80, is a cardiologist and pioneer of the Indian community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of his initial guilt over not returning to India but eventual acceptance by his family and feeling...

Ms. Hema Rajagopalan (At Risk Stories)

Hema Rajagopalan, 70, is an award-winning classical Indian dancer who became famous at age 6 for her talent. The interview includes discussion of her approach to dance as a physical form of moral education and...

Ms. Sujaya Rupani (At Risk Stories)

Sujaya Rupani, 66, is an ophthalmologist and active member of the Indian community in Chicago. The interview includes discussion of her successful work life and moments of culture shock as she adapted to the US....

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