Discovery: Manipulated photos

USC Doheny Library Regional History Collection
A treasure trove for discovery & scholarship for this art history major.
By Susan Andrews
January 2009

Conducting research in USC College is exhilarating, rewarding & an essential component of the undergraduate experience according to art history major & senior Rachel Huichong Wen. She learned this first-hand after spending several weeks studying photographs & letters from the Japanese American relocation camps [government terminology] during WWII.

Approximately 10 War Relocation Authority Camps, 17 assembly centers & 8 Dept of Justice Detention Centers were built in the U.S. for more than 120,000 Japanese Americans following Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Approximately 64% of those incarcerated were American-born citizens.

Wen investigated photographs & letters from one of these camps. Located within USC's Doheny Library's History Collection section (at the USC Special Collections Library), these items are part of a repository consisting of a million photos donated to the library in the ’70s from the now defunct Los Angeles Examiner.

The Los Angeles Examiner Building

The neatly arranged files of photos residing inside a brown cardboard box represent a world of possibilities to Wen. "There is enough here for an entire class to study & research," she said enthusiastically. The photos are classified into 3 main categories: the relocation process, repatriation & "loyal Americans." The collection is categorized by relocation sites, which include Santa Anita, Tanforan, & Tule Lake in California; Poston in Arizona; & Payallup in Washington State.

"These photos & letters could be analyzed from multiple disciplines besides art history--sociology, international relations, psychology, to name a few," Wen said. "They can be interpreted from many different perspectives. I am only interpreting them through an art historian’s eye."

Within the Japanese American Relocation Collection, Wen found 5 images that were heavily manipulated. She focused her study on one of these photos & a second one from the Arizona-based Poston relocation camp, the Examiner’s report of November 30, 1943, & two 1943 memos from Parker, Arizona, which was located near the Poston camp. “These materials provide important accounts about the anti-Japanese American movement,” she said.

“One artifact is composed of images from different & unrelated photographs, which were cut & reassembled to create a different scene, as if by collage. The photograph shows a Japanese American behind the wheel of a U.S. army truck,” she said. “At first I thought they did not like the photo until I looked closer & saw the location where masking tape had been applied to the back to piece together the separate images of the man & of the truck.”

After these fabricated images were created, Wen explained, captions were written & then published in the Examiner. The caption of the first image read "Whose truck?" The Examiner’s reporter wrote in his article “This Jap, one of hundreds 'interned' at Poston who can leave the camp without guard, is driving a Civilian Conservation Corps truck that belongs to the War Department.”

Yoko Shirai, lecturer in the department of art history, believes that “This type of valuable physical evidence [masking tape] will in time disintegrate, & valuable physical evidence will be lost forever.”

The 2nd photo studied by Wen was of a building with hand painted signs captioned “Japs Keep Out.” She explained that “This sign shows how citizens of Parker felt about the Japanese. Another caption appears in the image stating that the Japanese still ‘have the run of the countryside.’”

Wen examined 2 documents. The first is a 3-page memo from reporter James E. Lewis to Jim Richardson, the Examiner’s city editor. In the memo, Lewis mentioned a riot in Poston as part of his trip to Parker as well as a petition from the Parker residents to the governor. Lewis wrote, “Townspeople in Parker have signs on their stores such as ‘Jap keep-out-you rat.” His description connects to the image of the anti-Japanese sign.

The 2nd document is a 2-page letter written by Gov. Sidney P. Osborn of Arizona to J.M. Hill (and the petitioners) responding to the petition, which requested that all Japanese at the Poston Relocation Center not be allowed into the town of Parker. The letter addresses the Parker residents’ concern & promises action to keep the Poston internees out of town.



Books (Non-Fiction )

The hardcover 1st edition from Willow Valley Press, "Dandelion Through the Crack" by Kiyo Sato (former Poston camp II internee) has been sold out!

Look for the new edition, from Soho Press, "Kiyo's Story: A Japanese Family's Quest for the American Dream." (new title)

Winner of the 2008 William Saroyan International Prize for nonfiction book!

Writer Kiyo Sato to Speak at Smithsonian
February 17, 2009

A survivor of the Japanese internment camps, Kiyo Sato, at 85 years young, has lived a remarkable life, and will be sharing her experiences during the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Program to mark the 67th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 9066, on Feb. 19 in Washington, D.C.

That order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, led to the internment of 120,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II.

Forced to leave their Sacramento home & farm on May 29, 1942, Sato, the oldest of 9 children, & her family were taken to POSTON Camp II in Arizona.

Born in Sacramento, Sato was 19-yrs-old at the time of the internment & has chronicled her experience in her book "Dandelion Through the Crack: The Sato Family Quest for the American Dream."

Spanning 7 decades, her book published in August 2007, details her father, Shinji, leaving Japan for America in 1911; how her father met her mother Tomomi in Japan in 1922; her family’s life on the family farm in Sacramento, before & after the internment; how she overcame prejudice to become a nurse & rose to the rank of Captain in the U.S. Air Force Nurse Corps; a triumphant battle with developers who tried to take the family farm in 1975; and her mother’s passing in 1977.

"I wanted Dandelion to illuminate not only the challenges of prejudice & oppression, but also, & more fundamentally, the triumph of a family despite those challenges," says Sato. “I wanted readers to see life as we lived it, from the early years on a Sacramento strawberry farm, through the trauma of the war years, & rebuilding life afterwards."

Along this journey, she has received awards & accolades for Dandelion Through the Crack. On September 6, 2008, she was awarded the William Saroyan International Prize for writing in nonfiction by Stanford University Libraries, in partnership with the William Saroyan Foundation.

Also in 2008, she received the Award of Excellence in Publications from the Sacramento County Historical Society; won the Gold Award for Best First Book from Northern California Publishers & Authors; & was honored for her accomplishments by the California Writers Club, Sacramento Branch, & by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell.

Now out of print, Dandelion Through the Crack is being published as Kiyo’s Story: A Japanese-American Family’s Quest For The American Dream by Soho Press.

The National Book Launch for Kiyo’s Story will be on March 28, 2009, at noon, in her hometown of Sacramento at Book Lovers Bookstore, 5800 Madison Ave.

Sato’s story is also available on Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference.
by Joanne Oppenheim. Scholastic Inc: 2006. ISBN 0-439-56992-3

From the Smithsonian Education webpage

Letters from the Japanese American Internment Camp

Retired engineer Richard "Babe" Karasawa works as a volunteer at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles. He grew up in San Diego and was sent to the camps at Santa Anita and Poston, but he did not know of the Miss Breed letters until a few years ago, when the museum received the collection as a gift. While helping to organize the collection, he discovered that he knew many of the writers. David Kikuchi, who wrote the letter on this page, is still a friend of his.

Babe was fourteen at the time of the evacuation; David was nine. Both of them lived in converted horse stables at Santa Anita. One of Babe's most powerful memories is the moment when he and his family were shown their new home, which still smelled of the horses.

"My mom sees it and tears start coming down her face," he said. "My mom says, 'We're not going in there.'"

Babe was in a special position when he worked on the letters. He read them as history, but a history that was part of his own life.

"I was looking for reminders of what things were like," he said. What he found was "a definite inclination not to tell the worst." David's letter sums up the housing at Santa Anita in one statement: "We live in horse stables but there is another room added to the horse stable." Babe laughed when he read this, because it came so far short of describing all that he remembers.

"Many of us found it very difficult to clearly express our emotions," he said. "Generally speaking, we were quiet Americans. I think the tendency was to minimize complaints to anyone outside of our community."

But David Kikuchi, a retired architect, doesn't see it this way at all. His memories of camp life are mostly happy ones. Hikes to the nearby Colorado River and days spent fishing are what stand out in his thoughts of Poston. For him, the internment was "a great adventure" — a long camping trip with his family and all his friends along.

"Maybe it shouldn't have happened, but it did," he said. "Most of us did the best with what we had. There was no sugarcoating at all in those letters."

Both Babe and David say that many factors — including the difference in their age — account for their very different experiences.


Day of Remembrance 2009

Photos from the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial dedication weekend, held in Clovis, CA.

Judge Tony Ishii & wife. His father & grandfather were interned at Poston camp 1.

Satoshi "Fibber" Hirayama-Japanese American-Educator-Fresno State Bulldog-Major League Player & Coach, was a recipient of the President's Medal of Distinction, the highest non-degree award presented by California State University, Fresno. "Fibber" was a former Poston camp II internee.

Photo of Yoneichi Asami, former intern of Poston camp III from Reedley. This photo is on the ceramic storyboard at the Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial Plaza.

The former Pinedale internees who attended the dinner. Ted Kobata, was in attendance, but he missed this group photo. The people from the Sacramento area were relocated from the Pinedale Assembly Center to Poston camp II.

Memorial Dedicated At Pinedale Internment Camp

Feb 16, 2009
By: Clint Olivier & Kyra J. Neyland

Survivors dedicated a monument to what happened 67 years ago, in the hopes that nothing like the Japanese Internment will ever happen again. A sculpture & historical display mark Remembrance Plaza, built on the exact site where the Pinedale Assembly Center once stood.

Over 5,000 Americans of Japanese ancestry were housed there before being shipped off to more permanent internment camps, but over 110,000 were confined in America. Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order in 1942 to house all Japanese-Americans, based on the suspicion that some were possible spies.

Survivor Kiyo Sato still calls them concentration camps. "You can't believe everything is so beautiful here, but my gosh this was a miserable place," Sato said.
Sato was 19 when she came to Pinedale & now she's 85-years-old. Government representatives told Sato that the only belongings they could take with them was what they could carry. When she arrived Sato wore 3 sets of clothes, one on top of the other. "I was the oldest of 9 children, my brother David was 3," Sato said.

"My first train ride of my life. We traveled for a couple of days down to Fresno," James Hirabayashi said. Hirabayashi says he's also glad to see the camp memorialized. He was a sophomore in high school when he & his family were deported by train from their home in Seattle to the Pinedale camp."It just sort of destroyed life as we knew it," he said.

Both Hirabayashi & Sato agree that the memorial is important for Americans of all ethnicities to see & understand. "It's wonderful that this history is being remembered, because if we don't remember it then we are going to do it again," Sato said.

Internment Camp Art Exhibition at Parker, AZ

Internment Camp art exhibition currently open at Parker library

"Beauty in Captivity” highlights the creativity, spirit of internees at Poston

An exhibition of art from the Poston Internment Camp in World War II is currently on exhibit at the Parker Public Library until February 19, 2009.

The exhibit, “Beauty in Captivity,” includes items of everyday living plus paintings and carvings made in the Poston & Gila River internment camps.

The exhibition was created by the Japanese American Historical Society of San Diego, which was founded in 1992 by former internees of Poston Camp III & now includes members held at other camps during the 1942-45 relocation of people of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast.

The California Civil Liberties Education Program is one of the funders of this exhibition, & it is being presented in cooperation with the Tribes.

As part of the exhibit, a talk will be given on February 19 by Susan Hasegawa, chair of the department of History & Social Sciences at San Diego’s City College.

February 19 is recognized as the "Day of Remembrance" by Japanese Americans, because it is the anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s signing of Executive Order 9066, which allowed their relocation & incarceration. The exhibition will close the morning after her talk.

Additionally, the documentary "Passing Poston," which was filmed on the CRIT (Colorado River Indian Tribe) Reservation & provides a history of the internment camps, will be shown at the Library on February 10 at 6:30 p.m.

Among items on display are be artworks painted on scrap lumber including crate ends & other items found around the internment camps.

Toys & decorative objects made using homemade carving tools & recycled objects demonstrate resourcefulness & a desire to create beauty among the internees.

Two objects are of particular interest. One is a whirligig toy made in Poston III camp by Fudo Takagi from memory, based on a design created by his father Kogoro M. Takagi during the 1930s. A photo from the family’s post-war Arizona visit shows the remains of a Poston barrack & Fudo’s younger brother Hideo holding a similar toy.

The other item of interest is a nameplate carved with a sharpened bedspring for Clara Breed. Breed was the San Diego children’s librarian who maintained a wartime correspondence with "her" children & whose efforts to make sure they were not forgotten was chronicled in the 2006 book "Dear Miss Breed."

Breed also helped the children's parents by writing letters on their behalf to resolve citizenship & other legal questions. The nameplate is considered one of the treasures of the collection.

For more information call the library at (928) 669-2622 or CRIT Education at (928) 669-8831.

Story published in the CRIT Mantaba Messenger, February 2009 issue:

Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial

A Permanent Legacy at Pinedale
Pacific Citizen Newspaper
By Caroline Aoyagi-Stom, Executive Editor
Published January 31, 2009

A nondescript industrial area is all that remains today of what was once the Pinedale Assembly Center, but Kiyo Sato, 85, [former Poston camp II internee] can still describe its WWII fa├žade in surprising detail, erasing the 67 years that have since passed. Like a black & white dusty film, Kiyo remembers the large compound surrounded by guard towers that comes into view upon her first drive to the Center in 1942. Passing through the main gate, black tar-papered barracks greet her family, one of which would be their home for the next 3 months.

"That's all there was, just the cots & the one light bulb," recalls Kiyo upon entering her family's barrack. But there were not enough cots for her 7 siblings & parents. Luckily, one "young fellow" rounded up a couple of extra cots to squeeze into the tiny barrack. "What was so impressive to me was the young Nisei were so helpful. We were supportive of each other."

Kiyo's story & the story of her fellow Pinedale Assembly Center internees will soon be memorialized with a permanent monument. On Feb. 16, 2009 the Pinedale Memorial will be unveiled in Fresno, CA. as part of the CCDC/PSWDC/NCWNPDC JACL Tri-District Conference, "Internment & Redress Remembered." The event will also include a Day of Remembrance on Feb. 15.

"I was pleasantly surprised when I heard that little place was going to be memorialized," said Kiyo, from her home in Sacramento. "I feel we need to do these things to remember history, to not pull this thing again."

A Pinedale Legacy
The Pinedale Memorial, located on a site that already has state historical landmark status, is currently being built at 625 W. Alluvial Ave. in the NW side of Fresno. The Remembrance Plaza will showcase cherry blossom trees surrounding a square fountain & 12 storyboard panels will detail the history of the JAs who were once confined in this area.

Jim Hirabayashi, 82, was one of the 4,823 Pinedale Assembly Center internees who were rounded up & sent here from May 7- July 23, 1942. He was just a 15-year-old living in a rural area between Seattle & Tacoma when he & his family were forced to take the train ride to Central California.

"When I was in Pinedale we were confined in barb wire fence so I didn't get much of a chance to see around there, just what I could see through barb wire. We hope our reception will be better this time than last time," joked Jim, who plans to attend the memorial dedication. Jim connects the Pinedale Memorial to the historic Civil Rights Movement, a topic he knows first hand after taking part in the fight to establish the first Ethnic Studies program at San Francisco State in the 1960s.

"For me it's not closing the books because it's just a reminder of what happened. This is part of the general Civil Rights Movement," said the SF State emeritus professor. "For us it's a reminder of what happened because racism is not over by a long shot in this country."

Like many former WWII internees, Jim views the current struggles of the Arab & Muslim American communities as eerily familiar, especially when he hears calls to put them in camps. "Looking back at this history, where certain civil rights were taken away, this is very appropriate right now because sort of the same things are happening to Arab Americans rights now," he said. "This may be history to us but this is not over."

Lane Hirabayashi plans to be by his father Jim's side during the upcoming dedication. As a member of the Hirabayashi family - which includes his famous uncle Gordon who dared to defy executive order 9066 during WWII - he grew up hearing his family's internment stories. As a descendant of a Pinedale internee, he feels an obligation to preserve the site's history. "Once the Nisei generation passes, these physical sites are part of the memories that are left," said the 56-year-old Sansei. "I feel a first hand investment as a JA to say we can't erase these sites. These physical reminders are what will last."

Although many Nisei may still struggle to tell their internment stories, Kiyo has opened up her experiences for all to see in her book "Kiyo's Story," a work based on her father's haikus. She wants her fellow internees to see how important it is to talk about her generation's WWII stories. The Pinedale Memorial "will be a teaching tool for the coming generation & to remember that we can't allow this kind of thing to happen again," said Kiyo. "We need to keep talking about it. One of the problems is that so may people don't want to talk about it."

Kodomo No Tame Ni
Once the 3 months at the Pinedale Assembly Center had passed, all of the internees were scattered to various internment camps, many for the duration of the War. Many from Pinedale ended up at POSTON, Arizona & Tule Lake, CA. But even as their lives were being torn apart & the indignities of forced confinement became unbearable, the Issei did all they could to shield their Nisei children so they could go on to prosper as Americans.

"The Issei went through some terrible times & handled things so well. They practiced non violence & they protected the children, that was their main goal — kodomo no tame ni," said Kiyo. "Even when we got to camp they kept doing things to keep the children happy. The children who came out of camp, they went straight out to their schooling. They didn't lose a step. They did pretty well."

Marielle Tsukamoto, 71, was just a 5-yr-old girl when she & her parents were taken to the nearby Fresno Assembly Center during WWII. She's helping educate others about the Pinedale Memorial to continue her mother Mary's favorite motto: "justice is a matter of continuing education." It was Mary's experience as director of the Jankenpo Gakko that prompted her to speak out about her internment experiences. She was surprised to learn that many of her JA students knew little about their history & some even thought JAs were interned because they were at fault. "Many misunderstood the internment camps. Many thought that we had been guilty," said Marielle, Florin JACL chapter president, recalling her mother's stories. "She realized we cannot leave this generation uninformed."

From that moment on Mary dedicated her life to teaching the lessons learned from the internment experience. Mary passed away in 1998 but Marielle is doing her best to continue her mother's legacy. That's why she feels the Pinedale Memorial is so important. "This is another step in ensuring that the story of the internment & the heroic efforts of the 442nd, 100th, & MIS will not be lost in history," said Marielle. "I know my parents and so many others would be so relieved that the country has taken this direction."

"Remembrance Plaza will be a place to reflect on the past, assess the present & look to a better future," said Dale Ikeda, chair of the Pinedale Memorial Committee. "The former internees can take pride that their sacrifices, perseverance & patriotism paved the way for a better life for their families & future generations."


NEW Pinedale Assembly Center Memorial

Located in northern Fresno, west of the River Park Shopping Center & Blackstone Ave, on Alluvial between Ingram & Palm. (Head towards the Pinedale water tower.)

Here's some of what you will see. There are a total of 10 beautiful storyboards-- guaranteed to be "fade-proof" & grafitti-resistant. There are 4 photos of the Poston Relocation Center included. Dedication ceremony will be this weekend.

Some of the storyboards includes people who were relocated to Poston, Arizona. 
Kiyo Sato (Sacramento) is shown on this storyboard.


Children's Picture Books

Author Marlene Shigekawa was born in the Poston, Arizona relocation camp. She is the author of two children's picture books about internment camp. "Blue Jay in the Desert" is based on her family's internment experience, and the sequel, "Welcome Home Swallows".

"Blue Jay in the Desert" Fiction Award : Newberry Medal
Author: Marlene Shigekawa. Illustrated by Isao Kikuchi. 1993.
Hardbound: 36 pp. Polychrome Publishing Corporation; 1st edition (May 1993)
# ISBN-10: 1879965046 # ISBN-13: 978-1879965041
Color illustrations.
Ages: 9-12

...This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a young boy’s experience in a WWII American concentration camp, the effect it had on his family, and, most importantly, conveys his grandfather’s message for hope. While a young boy named Junior and his family are interned in Arizona during World War II, Junior receives a gift from his grandfather that instills in him hope and perseverance....

...This is a story about a relationship between a boy and his grandfather. While being interned in Poston, Arizona, the grandfather gives his grandson a very special blue jay that he skillfully carved out of wood...

...A Japanese American boy interned during World War II doesn’t understand what the internment is all about but through his eyes we see how it has affected the adults around him. A picture book introducing the history of the Japanese American internment....

"Showcased by Teaching Tolerance Magazine for today’s America."—The Book Reader.

"Welcome Home Swallows"
By Marlene Shigekawa. Illustrated by Isao Kikuchi.
Hardbound: 32 pp. Heian (September 2001)
# ISBN-10: 0893469343 # ISBN-13: 978-0893469344
Color illustrations.
Ages 9-12.

...In this sequel to "Blue Jay in the Desert", Junior returns home to California after 3 years in Poston, Arizona, a WWII concentration camp. He welcomes home two uncles—-one from the U.S. Army and the other from the Tule Lake "segregation" camp. Explores issues of prejudice, loyalty, and patriotism...