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Browse > Genre > Memoir

72 articles

An Abandoned Pot of Rice (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Displacement, Immigrant experience, Importance of community, Progress – real or illusion
  • No availability

Short essay by Hisaye Yamamoto DeSoto about the Kumamoto-mura community near Oceanside, California, where her family lived just prior to World War II. The pleasant reminiscences of life there are tempered by recollections of the chaos after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. The title of the story comes from the narrator's recollection of making a pot of rice intending to make rice balls on the day of their forced departure, but forgetting about it, leaving the full pot behind. Years later, she returns to the site of the community, which subsequently became a large military base which for a time housed tens of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees. Noting the similarities with the concentration camps she and her family were in, she observes that this group was the third group of Asians to ...

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Farewell to Manzanar Educational Kit (curricula)

  • Curricula
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Memoir, Drama, History
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Injustice, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Power of the past
  • Limited availability (kit), widely available (book, teaching guide and film)

In 2003, the Farewell to Manzanar Education Initiative distributed 10,000 copies of the Farewell to Manzanar Educational Kit to California public schools and public libraries. The kit consists of the book, Farewell to Manzanar and Related Readings (1998), a teaching guide for the book (1998), a VHS cassette of the Farewell to Manzanar made-for-television movie (1976) with an additional 35-minute classroom version, and a video study guide (2002). Separate elements of the kit are available for purchase (except for the video study guide).

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Starting from Loomis and Other Stories (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Immigrant experience, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Memoir by playwright, poet, actor, and librarian Hiroshi Kashiwagi in the form of twenty-five stories, most of them first-person vignettes from various periods of his life. Edited by Tim Yamamura, Starting from Loomis was published by the University of Colorado Press in 2013 as part of the George and Sakaye Aratani Nikkei in the Americas Series.

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Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Art
  • Coming of age, Expression through art, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Oppression of women
  • Widely available

Concentration camp memoir by a Nisei artist. Ten years old at the time of the wartime incarceration, Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey was sent to Santa Anita Assembly Center and Amache with her older brother and Issei parents. Evolving from captions that accompanied displays of the author's postwar paintings, Gasa Gasa Girl intersperses stories of life in the camps with recollections of happier days with her parents, brother, and aunts in Hollywood, California, before the war. The book is illustrated by twenty-eight color reproductions of her watercolor paintings that depict both her external and internal lives during the war, as well as a like number of family photographs, archival photographs, and photographs of key objects mentioned in the text. Published by the University of Utah Press, the book includes an foreword by historian Cherstin Lyon.

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An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Immigrant experience, Nationalism – complications, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice, Will to survive
  • Widely available

An Internment Odyssey: Haisho Tenten is the third book in a series published by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i and University of Hawai'i Press of a Hawai'i inmate's account of their incarceration experience during World War II. It represents a critical addition to Japanese American history as it provides the perspective of an Issei from Hawai'i who authorities incarcerated at multiple sites in the Islands and the mainland. The author, Kumaji Furuya, thus gives voice to some of the experiences faced by the 1,320 inmates from Hawai'i who like Furuya were often separated from their families for the duration of the war.

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Some Lines for a Younger Brother... (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Death – inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Growing up – pain or pleasure
  • Limited availability

First person recollection of the author's younger brother centering on the impact the World War II incarceration had on him. The youngest of eight children, Tets was doted on by his older siblings, but devastated when his father died when he was eight. A few years later, he had become a demoralized teenager in Manzanar who began skipping high school classes upon his return to Los Angeles after the war. Joining the army to see the world, he is almost at the end of his hitch when the Korean War breaks out. Sent into combat, he is killed in action. Years later, the author recalls attending the first Manzanar Pilgrimage and seeing the image of Tets as a child once again.

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Looking Like the Enemy: My Story of Imprisonment in Japanese-American Internment Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Children's
  • Evils of racism, Facing darkness, Family – blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Power of the past
  • Widely available

Incarceration memoir of life at Pinedale Assembly Center, Tule Lake, and Minidoka, by Mary Matsuda Gruenewald, a seventeen-year-old Nisei at the time of her and her family's forced removal from their Washington state farm. First published in 2005 by NewSage Press, it was followed by a young reader's edition in 2010.

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Pleasure of Plain Rice (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Desire to escape, Self-awareness, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Essay/story by Hisaye Yamamoto on racial identity that focuses on her month-long stint as a domestic in Springfield, Massachusetts, during World War II. She begins the piece by noting various white Americans she knows who have changed their ethnic-sounding last names to less ethnic sounding ones, noting the futility of her doing such a thing as a Japanese American, citing the mass incarceration during World War II. Anxious to leave Poston, where she and her family ended up, she and two of her younger brothers are allowed to leave for Massachusetts in the summer of 1944. While her fifteen-year-old brother Yuke is placed in a summer camp in the Berkshires, the War Relocation Authority office in Boston assigns her and her seventeen-year-old brother Jemo to become domestic servants for a wealthy widow in Springfield. Both initially dislike the stern and formal family and the job duties that had to be ...

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Song of Anger: Tales of Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Darkness and light, Displacement, Injustice
  • Available

Reflections and observations of a social worker in Tule Lake segregation center during World War II.

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Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WWII Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Facing reality, Family - blessing or curse, Injustice, Loss of innocence, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, War - glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

Mixed race Nisei shares his story, from a tough childhood growing up on a farm in the Midwest to his experiences in combat with the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion during World War II.

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Children of the Atomic Bomb: An American Physician's Memoirs of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and the Marshall Islands

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Available

A Japanese American pediatrician reflects on his lifelong involvement with studying the effects of radiation on children, while also recalling his and his family's experiences during World War II.

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I Call to Remembrance: Toyo Suyemoto's Years of Internment (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Rights - individual or societal, Motherhood, Displacement
  • Widely available

The memoir of poet Toyo Suyemoto that spans her years of incarceration in Tanforan Assembly Center and later, at Topaz in Utah, from spring 1942 to late autumn 1945. The book, published in 2007 by Rutgers University Press, focuses on the quotidian life in an American concentration camp, while coping both physically and psychologically with the brutality of imprisonment behind barbed wire. The book is dedicated to Suyemoto's son Kay and details his short life from birth in Berkeley, California, to his first steps at Tanforan in a crowded horse stall, and finally to Utah where he developed a serious asthmatic condition and pneumonia in the harsh atmosphere of camp which eventually lead to his premature death. Suyemoto's memoir includes the impact of policies and wartime decisions on her family and the larger Japanese American community, bringing insight on complex and controversial questions of loyalty, citizenship and resistance. She also ...

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Caucasian Boy at a Japanese Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 7-8
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Companionship as salvation, Displacement
  • Available

The son of the superintendent of schools at Tule Lake concentration camp recounts his experiences as a young boy there.

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To the Stars: The Autobiography of George Takei, Star Trek's Mr. Sulu (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Family - blessing or curse, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Identity crisis, Importance of community, Love and sacrifice
  • Widely available

Famous actor and celebrity recounts some of the most important periods of his life, including his early childhood spent at Rohwer and Tule Lake concentration camps.

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Journey to Washington (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Self-reliance, Patriotism - positive side or complications, Empowerment
  • Limited availability

Ghostwritten autobiography by Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawai'i, authored with Lawrence Elliott and published in 1967. One of the first autobiographies by a Nisei, Journey to Washington was published as Inouye was finishing his first term as a U.S. Senator from Hawai'i and preparing to run for reelection. The book covers his life up to that time, beginning with his grandfather leaving Japan to come to America to pay off a debt and ending with his father visiting the White House to visit President John. F. Kennedy. A success story that established a template for many Nisei memoirs to come, the book reinforced the "model minority" narrative then current. Reader's Digest also excerpted the book in its February 1968 issue. The book includes three forewords, by President Lyndon Johnson, Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield.

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Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Patriotism – positive side or complications, Role of men, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Widely available

Book built around the wartime diary and letters of Stanley Hayami that document his incarceration at the Heart Mountain, Wyoming, concentration camp and his military service in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

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The Invisible Thread (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12
  • Grades 3-5, Grades 7-8
  • Memoir, Children's
  • Immigrant experience, Growing up – pain or pleasure, Expression through art, Facing darkness, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Widely available

Memoir for young adult readers by the acclaimed children's book author that covers her charmed childhood in Berkeley, California, and her wartime incarceration during World War II.

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Citizen 13660 (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir, Graphic Novels
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Expression through art, Will to survive
  • Widely available

Published in 1946 as the last camps were being shuttered, Nisei artist Miné Okubo's illustrated eponymous memoir, Citizen 13660, has the distinction of being the earliest, first-person, book-length account of the American concentration camp experience. Always a vigorous booster of her own work, Okubo promoted the book that came to define her career as "the first and only documentary story of the Japanese evacuation and relocation written and illustrated by one who was there."[1] All told, Okubo produced an estimated 2,000 portraits of camp life in a range of styles and materials, including ink, charcoal, and gouache, while imprisoned at the Tanforan temporary detention camp in California and the Topaz concentration camp in Utah. Okubo's voluminous output notwithstanding, it was primarily Citizen 13660's roughly 200 line-drawings that established her standing as a major chronicler of and historic witness to the camp experience.

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And There Are Stories, There Are Stories (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Coming of age, Power of the past, Self – inner and outer
  • Available

Prose poem memoir by Momoko Iko that traces her family's journey out of the concentration camps and her subsequent upbringing away from Japanese American communities on the West Coast. She begins with her birth in 1940 to Issei parents, her fleeting recollections of her family's incarceration, and life after the war, first in Philadelphia, then Chicago. Various stories centering on racism, racial identity, interracial relations, and the legacy of the camps in the 1950s and 1960s follow, tracing the narrator's journey to becoming a writer.

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Memoirs of a Certain Nisei (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Empowerment, Patriotism – positive side or complications, War – glory, necessity, pain, tragedy
  • Available

Posthumously published memoir by Kibei war hero Thomas Taro Higa, translated from its original Japanese and published in 1988. The vast majority of the book covers events taking place during World War II.

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And Then a Rainbow (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Role of women, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • Limited availability

Memoir by a Nisei woman who renounces her citizenship at Tule Lake and lives in Japan for thirteen years before returning to the U.S.

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Birth of an Activist: The Sox Kitashima Story (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Death - inevitable or tragedy, Empowerment, Importance of community
  • Available

A renowned redress activist shares her life story, including how the humiliating experience of wartime incarceration helped shape her later involvement in political activism.

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Passing It On--A Memoir (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Rebirth, Rights - individual or societal
  • Available

Leading human rights activist reflects on her life, including her insulated childhood and the wartime incarceration experience that awakened her lifelong commitment to advocacy for all marginalized peoples.

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Adios to Tears: The Memoirs of a Japanese-Peruvian Internee in U.S. Concentration Camps (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Biography, Memoir
  • Displacement, Immigrant Experience
  • Widely available

Adios to Tears: The Memoirs of a Japanese-Peruvian Internee in U.S. Concentration Camps relays the life story of Seiichi Higashide (1909–97). The book was translated from Japanese into English and Spanish through the efforts of his eight children, and was first published in 1993 by E&E Kudo. A second edition of the book was published in 2000 by the University of Washington Press, with a new foreword by C. Harvey Gardiner, professor emeritus of history at Southern Illinois University and author of Pawns in a Triangle of Hate: The Peruvian Japanese and the United States; a new epilogue by Julie Small, co-chair of Campaign for Justice-Redress Now for Japanese Latin Americans; and, a new preface by Elsa H. Kudo, the author's eldest daughter.

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Lone Heart Mountain (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Displacement, Evils of racism, Hazards of passing judgment, Injustice
  • Limited availability

Illustrated memoir of life at Heart Mountain by artist Estelle Ishigo, a white woman married to a Nisei.

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