1996 · [Various locations
by [Japanese Americana]: [Iwamoto, Louise Akiye Kodama]: [Iwamoto, Paul Tadashi]
[Various locations, 1996. 310 black-and-white or color photographs, ranging from 1 x 1 inches to 11 x 14 inches, plus approximately pp. of letters and printed forms, seven books, and assorted family papers and ephemera. Overall very good. A substantial collection of material kept by a Japanese-American family in California throughout the 20th century, centering around Louise Akiye Iwamoto, née Kodama, a young Japanese American who was interned at Heart Mountain Relocation Center during World War II, and her husband Paul Tadashi Iwamoto, himself interned at Santa Anita Assembly Center, Gila River, and Tule Lake. The most important portions of the collection are letters and papers relating to the couple's internment, early family and internment camp photographs, and a handful of books relating to the Japanese-American experience. Several documents from the late 20th century verify the Iwamotos internment during the war, and were likely gathered in anticipation of potential reparations to World War II internees, which finally came to fruition in the late 1980s. The photographs range from small-format vernacular shots to 8 x 10 inch studio family portraits in American and Japanese settings, and four larger-format internment camp aerial photographs of Tule Lake Relocation Center. The largest photograph here, measuring 11 x 14 inches, is an aerial shot of Tule Lake Relocation Center taken from a guard tower (the lower rail and bottom portion of the roof are visible in the image). The smaller aerial photograph, measuring 9 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches, also captures Tule Lake, this time from an airplane, and at a much different angle than the larger picture. The third and fourth photographs are 4 x 10 inch panoramic shots of Tule Lake - one of the camp during the day and another of the camp under a full moon - taken from the same location. Paul Tadashi Iwamoto was a detainee at Tule Lake, the third of three different internment camps Iwamoto was imprisoned in during World War II. The remainder of the pictures depict the Iwamotos, their home, friends, and family, including their children and presumably grandchildren; vacations and/or family visitations in Japan; a 1981 Japanese Cultural Show in Gardena; two different funerals - one from the 1960s and another from the 1990s; childrens' parties; a 1982 baby shower; the aftermath of the 1962 Salem, Oregon hurricane; and others. Tadashi and Akiye are pictured in some of the photographs, including a December 1977 visit to a friend's house. Some of the photographs were created by Japanese photographers such as Kasuganoso, Okazaki, and Miyataki. The images range in date from 1930 to 1996, with some appearing to emanate from each decade in between. There are also occasional negatives for the later photographs, and the photographs are sometimes annotated in English or Japanese. In addition to the photographs, the collection includes letters and paperwork relating to the internment of the Iwamotos. The most important papers here relate to Kodama's experience at Heart Mountain and her husband's time at Tule Lake, all kept in a manila envelope labeled in large black and red marker, "Official Verification Papers of Internment for Paul & Louise - IMPORTANT EVACUATION RECORDS CURRENT - Received Feb 22, 1983. Official verification of internment for Paul Tadashi Iwamoto / Louise Akiye Kodama." This folder contains Akiye's original birth certificate (her birth name was spelled Akia); originals and copies of recommendation letters written in 1945 relating to Akiye Kodama's time as a nurse at Heart Mountain (one of which was written by a Japanese-American surgeon at Heart Mountain named Morton M. Kimura); and copies of a form sent to the General Services Administration providing "Verification of Internment Dates of Civilians during World War II" filled out by Akiye (another copy of the same form is filled out by her husband). She was interned from May 9, 1942 until September 28, 1945. There are also a few receipts from the Japanese Hospital of Los Angeles for medical care given to Akiye in 1949. Paul Tadashi Iwamoto was interned at Santa Anita Assembly Center, Gila River, and Tule Lake from April 28, 1942 to March 14, 1946. His 1916 visa to visit his ill grandmother in Japan is the earliest document present here; the visa includes a passport photo of young five-year-old Tadashi, and notes that he was born in Fresno on September 15, 1913. There are letters relating to Paul Tadashi Iwamoto's time at Gila River and Tule Lake. These include an April 1943 letter from the California Department of Employment denying Iwamoto unemployment insurance because he was "residing in a War Relocation Center and are not readily available for referral to work." This was followed up with a cover letter and a detailed, four-page decision on Mr. Iwamoto's unemployment insurance case. At that time, Iwamoto was assigned to Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona. There are also letters relating to Iwamoto's attempts at "resegregation" and repatriation in 1944 and 1945, at which point he had been re-assigned to Tule Lake. Among the other papers are photocopies of portions of the Gila River and Tule Lake rosters listing the Iwamotos interned there. The papers are rounded out by a retained copy of a "Voluntary Information Form" filled out by Tadashi in response to the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided formerly interned Japanese Americans with reparations for their time spent in internment camps. The collection also includes a handful of books. The most notable of these is the 1938 second edition of SKYWAYS LUMBINI: PUBLISHED ANNUALLY BY THE MEMBERS OF THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA DISTRICT YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN'S BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION (Los Angeles: Pacific Printing Co., 1938). The book has an ownership inscription belonging to Akiye Kodama, with her address in Hollywood. The book is additionally inscribed to Akiye throughout by several officers and members of the YMWBA. Like most Japanese Americans, Akiye was a Buddhist before the war; there is some indication here that she remained a Buddhist after the war. The other books include Paul Tadashi Iwamoto's 1935 Los Angeles - Washington High School yearbook, and commemorative books of later anniversary celebrations for the Hollywood Gakuen of the Japanese Language School (1982), the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima Kenjin-Kai of Southern California (1985), and the 40th anniversary of the Hollywood Japanese Cultural Institute (1987). There is also a printed genealogy book for a Japanese family by Toshinobu Kobayashi of Hiroshima University in 1978, and a copy of Jack Iwata's 1991 photobook entitled ONE MORE SHOT, which documents changing American- Japanese relations during the 20th century. In addition to the material enumerated above, there are also assorted family letters, a few Christmas cards sent to the Iwamotos, a folder of genealogical research by Lauren Iwamoto, a 1988 calendar from the Southern District Special Projects Committee picturing pre-war Japanese organizations, and more. An important collection of photographs, letters, documents, and books from a Japanese- American couple who spent their war years in various internment camps, recording not only their life in internment and afterward, but also how the internment experience impacted their lives decades later.
(Inventory #: WRCAM55716)