Musicians, California, 1950s.


Archived exhibitions are no longer available for booking but are maintained as a virtual record of past Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) programs.

Ricardo Alvarado immigrated to San Francisco in 1928 from the Philippines. He was part of the wave of Filipino immigrants known as the Manong (“older brother”) generation, who came to the United States between 1901 and 1935, after the Spanish American War of 1898 made the islands a U.S. territory. At first, he made a living working as a janitor and houseboy. During World War II, he served his new country as a medical technician in the Army’s highly decorated First Filipino Infantry Regiment. When he returned from the Pacific, he supported himself as a cook. In many ways, his biography reflects the limited career opportunities so many immigrants encountered in the 1940s and 1950s.

What sets him apart was his eye for capturing on film the special celebrations and daily rituals of the Filipino American (Pinoy) community in San Francisco after the war. More than a hobby, photography was his passion. He canvassed the Bay Area’s city streets and rural back roads for subjects. His view camera gave him entrée into large social functions—weddings, funerals, baptisms, parties, and dances—as well as intimate family gatherings. He recorded street scenes, beauty pageants, cock fights, agricultural workers tending crops, and entrepreneurs on the job.

When he died in 1976, he left behind a rich trove of historically significant and visually arresting images, yet they remained hidden until his daughter, Janet Alvarado, found his collection of nearly 3,000 photographs and recognized their importance.

She formed The Alvarado Project to ensure that her father’s unique record of Pinoy life would be preserved and would receive the attention it deserves.

SITES is proud to bring this compelling record of Asian Pacific American life to the nation. Through My Father’s Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Ocreto Alvarado (1914-1976), created by The Alvarado Project, is an exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. It is organized for travel by SITES. Additional support has been provided by FedEx and a circle of friends.



Contents 50 black-and-white photographs; text panels; labels
Participation Fee $2,000 for an 8-week booking period.
Running Feet 203 running feet (64 running meters)
Crates 3
Weight 300
Category History & Culture
Security Moderate
Shipping Shipping for this exhibition has been donated by Federal Express.
SITES Contacts Ed Liskey, 202.633.3142 (Scheduling)
Toured Through 4/16/06



Dates   Host Institution Status
4/19/03 6/15/03 Sunrise Civic Center, Sunrise, FL Booked
7/5/03 8/31/03 Golden State Museum, Sacramento, CA Booked
9/20/03 11/16/03 The Lentz Center for Asian Culture, Lincoln, NE Booked
12/6/03 5/16/04 Wing Luke Asian Museum, Seattle, WA Booked
6/5/04 8/1/04 UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, CA Booked
8/21/04 10/24/04 Pensacola Museum of Art, Pensacola, FL Booked
11/13/04 1/9/05 Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY Booked
1/29/05 3/27/05 Las Vegas Art Museum, Las Vegas, NV Booked
4/16/05 6/12/05 Independence Branch - Free Library of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA Booked
7/2/05 8/28/05 Vallejo Naval and Historic Museum, Vallejo, CA Booked
9/17/05 11/13/05 Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, MO Booked
12/3/05 1/29/06 Academy Art Center at Linekona, Honolulu, HI Booked
2/18/06 4/16/06 Georgia College & State University Museum, Milledgeville, GA


5/6/06 7/2/06 Garfield Park Arts Center, Indianapolis, IN Booked

Press Releases and Features


Smithsonian Photography Exhibition on Filipino American History Premieres This Fall in Washington

While Janet Alvarado was growing up, her father, Ricardo, told her stories about life in America before she was born. "They were colorful stories filled with vivid images of a vibrant community and a multicultural past," Alvarado remembers. A new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution offers an opportunity to see this rich community through the eyes of Filipino American photographer Ricardo Alvarado.

"Through My Father's Eyes: The Filipino American Photographs of Ricardo Orceto Alvarado (1914-1976)," a collection of 50 rare photographs, will premiere at the National Museum of American History, Behring Center on Thursday, Nov. 21 and will remain on view until March 31, 2003. The exhibition will then travel to Sacramento, CA, Seattle, WA, and Pensacola, FL, and several other cities.

"Through My Father's Eyes," created by The Alvarado Project, is an exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Institution's Asian Pacific American Program in collaboration with the Museum of American History. It is organized for travel by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.

Ricardo Alvarado immigrated to the United States from the Philippines in 1928 as part of the early 20th-century wave of immigrants from that country known as the Manong generation. Alvarado thought America would bring new opportunities, but he was given only menial jobs. During World War II, he served in the Pacific with the U.S. Army's First Filipino Regiment. When the war came to an end, Alvarado supported his passion for photography by working as a civilian cook for the Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco.

Alvarado began documenting postwar Filipino American life in San Francisco and surrounding communities. For almost 20 years following the war, Alvarado witnessed a transformation among Filipino Americans - from a close-knit group of bachelors to a society that was defined by family life. Alvarado's photographs capture day-to-day activities as well as the special moments of celebrations. Together, the photographs offer a poignant portrayal of the Filipino American community in San Francisco from the early 1940s to the late 1950s.

Following Alvarado's death in 1976, his daughter, Janet, discovered his photographs. Janet Alvarado currently serves as the executive director of The Alvarado Project, which documents and preserves more than 3,000 of his images of post-World War II Filipino American communities.

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program seeks to integrate Asian Pacific American contributions to history, culture, art and society through Smithsonian collections, research, exhibitions and programs.

Each year, SITES shares the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside of Washington, D.C. One of the Smithsonian's four National Programs, SITES makes available a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown not only in museums but wherever people live, work and play, including libraries, science centers, historical societies, community centers, botanical gardens, schools and shopping malls. In 2002, SITES celebrates 50 years of connecting Americans to their shared cultural heritage.

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