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Browse > Genre > Memoir

72 articles

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Ganbatte: Sixty-year Struggle of a Kibei Worker (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Capitalism - effect on the individual, Convention and rebellion, Empowerment, Important of community, Injustice, Rights - individual and societal, Self-awareness, Working class struggles
  • Available

Kibei-Nisei labor organizer and communist shares his life story, including his unique experiences during World War II as the husband of a white woman with a mixed-race child incarcerated while he served with the Military Intelligence Service in the Pacific Theater.

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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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Manzanar and Beyond (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Disillusionment and dreams, Displacement, Importance of community, Injustice, Rights - individual or societal
  • Available

Prominent Nisei attorney recounts his life, including his experiences as the administrator of the hospital at Manzanar concentration camp and his role in landmark legal battles advocating for redressing injustices experienced by Japanese Americans.

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39 Months at Tule Lake (book)

  • Books
  • Memoir
  • Empowerment, Importance of community, Injustice
  • Available

The diary of a white staff member at Tule Lake offers his take on the tumultuous events there after it was made a segregation center.

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By the Hands of a Working Man: A Japanese Background, a Mexican Childhood, an American Life (book)

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

Nisei landscape architect shares his life story, from his childhood in Mexico to his years working in Los Angeles-area nurseries to his wartime experiences in Manzanar and Illinois.

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Enemy Alien (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Displacement, Evils of racism
  • Limited availability

Bilingual memoir by Kiyo Hirano of her World War II experiences as an "enemy alien" is a rare example of an Issei woman's first-person perspective of the American concentration camps. Enemy Alien (Japanese title: Tekikoku gaijin) was translated into English by George Hirano and Yuri Kageyama and published by Japantown Arts and Media Workshop (JAM) Publications in 1983. Hirano's Japanese-English biographical account of her incarceration at the Merced Assembly Center and Amache and of her resettlement was originally written as an assignment for a creative writing class at the Japantown Arts and Media Workshop in San Francisco, and eventually published by the organization.

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Manzanar Daze and Cold Nights (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Desire to escape, Importance of community, Reunion
  • Available

Posthumously published memoir by a Nisei man about his years at Manzanar during World War II.

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"Wase Time!": A Teen's Memoir of Gila River Internment Camp (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Family – blessing or curse, Importance of community, Role of men
  • Limited availability

First person memoir by Kenneth A. Tashiro of his and his family's forced removal and incarceration at the Gila River, Arizona, concentration camp. After a brief introduction that introduces Tashiro's family, the story begins on Pearl Harbor day when Kenneth—nicknamed "Iggy"—hears about the start of the war after exiting an Abbott and Costello movie. He and his family move from Los Angeles to Del Rey in an attempt to avoid incarceration, but they are eventually removed from Sanger to Gila in August of 1942. His father, Kenji Tashiro, is a journalist, who becomes the editor of the camp newspaper, before leaving to join the army at age 37. His mother, eight months pregnant at the time of the removal, stays behind for a time, rejoining the family later with the baby girl. Twelve when he entered the camp, Tashiro's perspective is purely that of an active teenager, so there is ...

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Uncle Yozo (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 7-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Disillusionment and dreams, Importance of community, Optimism – power or folly
  • No availability

Comical story by Ted Tajima about an Issei man at an unspecified concentration camp who enlivens the first Christmas in camp by elaborately playing Santa. A regular contributor of stories to the Rafu Shimpo holiday edition, Tajima taught at Alhambra High for 35 years and led their acclaimed journalism program.

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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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They Call Me Moses Masaoka: An American Saga (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Patriotism – positive side or complications, Quest for power, Rights - individual or societal
  • Available

Nisei known primarily for his role as executive secretary of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) during World War II reflects on his life experiences, and declares with confidence that he would make the same choices if he could do it over again.

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Am I a Traitor? (short story)

  • Short Stories
  • Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Facing reality, Nationalism – complications, Patriotism – positive side or complications
  • Available

Essay by Issei socialist journalist Shigeki Oka (1878–1959) focusing on his decision to aid the Allies and oppose the Japanese militarist regime during World War II. Oka begins by describing the situation prior to the war, where Japanese American leaders dismissed the possibility of war between the U.S. and Japan. While preparing a translation of Hitler's anti-Japanese writings to be distributed in Japan, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurs. Oka sends a telegram to President Roosevelt offering his services and expresses the desire that Japan lose the war as quickly as possible so that its militarist regime would be brought down; these actions lead to members of the Japanese American community branding him a traitor. He later volunteers to go to India despite his advanced age to write and distribute propaganda for the U.S. After the war, the Japanese community continues to shun him despite the fact that the events ...

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Farewell to Manzanar (book)

  • Books
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, Adult
  • Memoir
  • Coming of age, Displacement, Evils of racism, Family – blessing or curse, Working class struggles
  • Widely available

Popular memoir that tells the story of one family's forced removal and confinement at Manzanar through the eyes of a young girl. First published in 1973, Farewell to Manzanar has sold over one million copies and is one of the most widely read accounts of Japanese American incarceration and its aftermath.

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