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Browse > Genre > Memoir

73 articles

"Iwao-chan!" (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Everlasting love, Motherhood
  • No availability

Short story by Yachiyo Uehara about a Nisei woman's bond with her deceased Issei mother in the years after the war. As the story begins, Yachiyo is on a plane from New York to San Francisco around 1950 with her two-year-old son Andy, the first time since the war years that she would be returning to her hometown. She will be moving there, initially staying with her Issei father. She is saddened that Andy will never meet her mother, whom she last saw in 1944 when she left Heart Mountain for New York and who subsequently died after they returned to San Francisco. She is relieved that her father, who dislikes children, tolerates Andy and even seems to like him. But she is also concerned about the dangerous stairs leading to the small house. She finds that despite her death two years prior, her mother's presence permeates the house. One ...

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Looking After Minidoka: An American Memoir (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Change versus tradition, Coming of age, Displacement, Female roles, Growing up - pain or pleasure, Immigrant experience, Love and sacrifice, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Power of tradition, Will to survive
  • Available

A third-generation Japanese American shares the multi-generational story of both sides of his family, from immigration to the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and wartime incarceration, to resettlement and his own childhood.

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Kubota (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Power of silence, Wisdom of experience
  • Available

Short story/essay centering on the author's maternal grandfather, whom everyone called by his last name, Kubota. A Kibei from Hawai'i, Kubota had graduated high school in Hiroshima before returning to become a successful shopkeeper and community leader—as well as an avid fisherman—on Ō'ahu's North Shore prior to the war. Arrested by the FBI on the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Kubota was one of the relatively fortunate ones, having been taken to Honolulu for questioning, but released after just a few days. Years later, Kubota lives with the author's family in Gardena, California, and repeatedly tells the teenager his World War II story, urging him not to forget it and to be his chronicler. The author is puzzled to find that other Japanese Americans not only didn't care to hear this story but were very reluctant to talk about their wartime exclusion and incarceration. After his grandfather's death, ...

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Mackerel Sky (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Immigrant experience, Will to survive, Working class struggles
  • No availability

Short story by Jeff Matsuda in which a young Sansei man recalls various stories about his Issei grandfather: visiting him and his grandmother when he was a child; recreating the old man talking about his youth in Japan and his early years as a laborer in the U.S.; and visiting him with his mother when he was in college, and his grandfather was a nearly deaf old man. In the process, the narrator recalls his grandfather's internment: as a fisherman on Terminal Island, he was arrested a week after Pearl Harbor and sent to Bismarck and then to an unspecified camp in New Mexico, while the rest of his immediate family spent the war years in Japan.

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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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Out of the Frying Pan: Reflections of a Japanese American (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Heroism - real and perceived, Injustice
  • Available

A prominent journalist reflects on his life and career, including the difficult years during World War II during which he and his family were incarcerated because of their Japanese ancestry.

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Nurse of Manzanar: A Japanese American's World War II Journey

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Non Fiction, Memoir
  • Displacement, Facing reality, Importance of community, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Role of women
  • Available

Edited diary of Toshiko Eto Nakamura (1910–94), a nurse who volunteered to work at the hospital in Manzanar during World War II.

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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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Sideways: Memoir of a Misfit (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Convention and rebellion, Family – blessing or curse, Overcoming – fear, weakness, vice
  • Available

Memoir of a young Nisei woman who was born in the Minidoka, Idaho, concentration camp. The story focuses on her often strained relationships with her parents, grandparents, and eight siblings in 1950s Chicago.

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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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Unfinished Message (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Communication – verbal and nonverbal, Motherhood
  • Available

Seemingly autobiographical story by Toshio Mori about his mother and brother. The story begins in 1945 in Topaz, where the author's mother can't sleep one night because of anxiety about her son, who is serving in Europe. She later finds out that he was wounded in battle that night. Later, they arrange for his transfer to a hospital in the U.S, deciding on one near the family home in California. When they leave camp and return home, she is able to visit him at the hospital. However, she later dies in her sleep before her son is released. After her death, the author and his brother hear tapping on the window of the room in which she died, which they interpret as her message to them. Written by Mori in 1947, the story was first published in his 1979 short story collection, The Chauvinist and Other Stories and reprinted in ...

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The Legacy of a Cemetery (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Reunion, Wisdom of experience
  • Limited availability

First person reflections on a trip back to his hometown of Los Angeles by a man who had settled in New Jersey after leaving the Jerome, Arkansas, concentration camps some thirty years earlier. A visit to Evergreen Cemetery east of downtown Los Angeles brings back memories of his forced removal in 1942, remembrances of Nisei soldiers he knew who are buried there, and memories of his deceased family members.

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Nurse of Manzanar: A Japanese American's World War II Journey (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Non Fiction, Memoir
  • Displacement, Facing reality, Importance of community, Overcoming - fear, weakness, vice, Role of women
  • Available

Edited diary of Toshiko Eto Nakamura (1910–94), a nurse who volunteered to work at the hospital in Manzanar during World War II.

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Dusty Exile: Looking Back at Japanese Relocation during World War II (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Role of women, Progress – real or illusion
  • Available

Memoir of the forced removal and incarceration and its aftermath by a sympathetic white schoolteacher at Poston.

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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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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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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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Betrayed Trust: The Story of a Deported Issei and His American-Born Family During World War II (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Heartbreak of betrayal, Identity crisis, Immigrant experience, Losing hope
  • Available

A Nisei shares his family's heart-wrenching experience of wartime incarceration and the complex background behind their decision to go to Japan instead of staying in the U.S. after the end of the war.

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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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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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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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The Little Exile (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 7-8
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Female roles, Immigrant experience
  • Available

Memoir by Jeanette A. Arakawa covering her wartime incarceration at the Stockton Assembly Center and Rohwer, Arkansas, concentration camp and postwar resettlement in Denver. Though written in the first person, her name and those of others in the book have been changed.

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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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My Name Is Yoshiko (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Names – power and significance, Optimism – power or folly, Role of women, Working class struggles
  • Available

Memoir of an ordinary Nisei woman that includes her wartime incarceration in American concentration camps. Yoshiko Kawaguchi (born in 1921) was the eldest daughter in a farm family in Downey, California. After attending sewing school, World War II hits and the family ends up in the horse stalls of Santa Anita, then in the Rohwer, Arkansas, concentration camp. Resettling in Michigan, she eventually gets a job at a fancy restaurant. She meets and marries a Nisei from Kaua'i and settles in Chicago, where her sisters and parents also eventually settle. Her husband becomes a mail carrier, and they adopt a girl. Later, they move to back to Downey and retire in Kaua'i.

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Silver Like Dust (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Power of the past, Role of women
  • Widely available

Memoir published in 2011 centering on the author's grandmother, who slowly tells the author the story of her life and incarceration at Heart Mountain, over the course of several visits with the author. Her grandmother's detailed narrative from the perspective of a young woman of twenty when the war breaks out—the happy childhood in Los Angeles, the shock of war and forced removal, meeting her husband at the Pomona Assembly Center, marrying in camp, and having her first child there, before resettling in Seabrook Farms, New Jersey—is contrasted with the author's vastly different life as a contemporary young woman of roughly the same age when she begins the project. Having grown up in Pennsylvania, apart from her grandmother in Florida, the visits also allow the two women to really get to know each other for the first time. The book includes various brief historical snippets that provide the larger context ...

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