James Y. Sakamoto Papers, 1928-1955  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Sakamoto, James Y., 1903-1955
Title
James Y. Sakamoto Papers
Dates
1928-1955 (inclusive)
Quantity
8.45 cubic ft. (23 boxes)
Collection Number
1609 (Accession No. 1609-001)
Summary
Nisei community leader and newspaper publisher in Seattle who during World War II was incarcerated with his family at Camp Harmony in Washington and the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho.
Repository
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
98195-2900
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
speccoll@uw.edu
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

James ("Jimmie") Sakamoto was a prominent Nisei community leader, activist, and newspaper publisher renowned for his ardent American patriotism. He was born in Seattle in 1903 to Japanese immigrant parents who arrived in the Northwest in 1894. He graduated from Franklin High School in 1920. A year later, he helped to found the Seattle Progressive Citizens' League to oppose the city's anti-alien land law and various other proposed pieces of anti-Japanese legislation. In 1923, Sakamoto moved to the East Coast where he became a professional welterweight (often known as "featherweight") prize fighter. During this time he also worked as English editor of the New York City Japanese American Daily News and took classes at Princeton. In 1927, as a result of injuries suffered in the ring, he went blind and returned to Seattle shortly thereafter.

In 1928, Sakamoto established and became publisher of Seattle's English language newspaper, the Japanese-American Courier , which quickly boasted circulation figures over 10,000. In 1930, he helped to form the Japanese American Citizens' League (JACL) and from 1936-1938 served as the organization's second national president.

The advent of the War in the Pacific led to one of the most influential periods in Sakamoto's life -- the approximately four months he spent as "Chief Supervisor" at the Camp Harmony assembly center in Puyallup. There Sakamoto offered critical support and leadership for his fellow Japanese Americans and was, simultaneously, a trusted functionary of Army officials.

But World War II also brought the end to one of Sakamoto's longest-running professional accomplishments, the Japanese-American Courier newspaper, and compelled him to put aside his vigorous activist work for the JACL. Moreover, he, his wife Misao, their two young daughters, and his wife's parents were forced to leave their home -- along with nearly 13,000 other Washington State residents of Japanese descent -- and were incarcerated for three years at the Minidoka Relocation Center in southern Idaho. At Minidoka, Sakamoto's leadership efforts were not encouraged in the way they had been at Camp Harmony. Although he continued to mediate on behalf of his fellow Nisei -- such as writing letters to political figures (including President Franklin D. Roosevelt) and arbitrating disputes -- he served in no official political capacity.

Upon his release from Minidoka in July 1945, Sakamoto returned to Seattle with his wife and family. In 1946, he began working for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and remained there, as head of the Pick-up and Telephone Solicitation Department, until his untimely death in 1955 after being hit by a car while walking to work.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The collection consists of Sakamoto's personal papers and two subgroups, the Japanese American Citizens' League (JACL) and the Japanese-American Courier . The personal papers include material on the evacuation and relocation of the West Coast Japanese, and on the Japanese community in general. The bulk of the materials on subjects such as the evacuation, Camp Harmony, and the Minidoka Relocation Center are located in subject series of the same names; however, researchers should be aware that other sections in the accession -- especially Incoming and Outgoing Letters, General Correspondence, Case Files, re: Internees, Speeches and Writings, and Legislation -- also contain significant amounts of material on such matters.

The JACL subgroup ranges from approximately 1930 to 1954 and consists primarily of correspondence and minutes concerning the development of the organization, its role in supporting legislation regarding immigration and citizenship, and its stand during the relocation and evacuation. The Courier subgroup mainly concerns the business aspects of the newspaper, but it also includes correspondence pertaining to the newspaper's activities in the Japanese community of the Seattle area, such as its sports leagues, Public Service Bureau, and cooking school.

Other Descriptive InformationReturn to Top

The Microforms and Newspapers Center in Suzzallo Library owns a complete collection of the Japanese-American Courier which may be easier to read than the single copies found in this accession in Special Collections. This microfilm may be borrowed through Interlibrary Borrowing.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

A microfilmed copy of the papers is available in Special Collections and may be borrowed through Interlibrary Borrowing.

View selections from this collection in digital format.

Restrictions on Use

The literary rights of these papers have been retained. Thus, users who wish to quote Sakamoto's writings must contact the Sakamoto family for permission. In addition, users who wish to quote Sakamoto's correspondents must search for their heirs and contact them directly for permission.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

 

Personal PapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1-1/4
Biographical Material
Incoming Letters
Box/Folder
1/5
Allison, J.C.
1942-1944
1/6
American Friends Service Committee
1941-1943
1/7
Arai, Yone
1932
1/8
A Misc.
1931-1944
1/9
Benedicta, Sister Mary
1943-1944
1/10
Bone, Homer T.
1942
1/11
Bonus, Albert
1944
1/12
B Misc.
1935-1951
1/13
Claypool, Anna
1946-1953
1/14
C Misc.
1941-1954
1/15
Dickstein, Samuel
1942
1/16
D - E Misc.
1932-1949
1/17
F Misc.
1932-1944
1/18
G Misc.
1931-1932
1/19
Hirai, James
1931
1/20
Holden, Ashley
See also: Japan Society
1931, 1937
1/21
H Misc.
1931-1951
1/22
Iseri, Tom
1934-1944
1/23
Isenaga, Katie
1930-1944
1/24
I Misc.
1931-1939
1/25
Japan Society
See also: Holden, A.E.
1929-1933
1/26
Japanese Canadian Citizens' League
1935-1938
1/27
Japanese Students' Christian Association in N.A.
1937-1941
1/28
Johnson, Hiram W.
1942
1/29
Johnson, Marie
1931-1944
1/30
J Misc.
1931-1942
1/31
Kanazawa, Tooru (Joe)
1932-1944
1/32
Kasagi, Y. Key
1931-1932
1/33-1/36
Kido, Saburo
1931-1944
1/37
K Misc.
1930-1944
2/1
Langlie, Arthur B.
1941
2/2
La Violette, Forrest
1937-1941
2/3
L Misc.
1934-1950
2/4
Magnuson, Warren G.
1942
2/5
Matsuda, Chiyoko
1939-1940
2/6
Muneno, Saiki
1933-1941
2/7-2/9
Murayama, Tamotsu
1932-1950
2/10
M Misc.
1931-1950
2/11
Nakamura, Kaju
1931-1938
2/12
Niguma, Maskao
1931
2/13
Niguma, Yoneko
1931-1932
2/14
Nishimura, George K.
1941-1943
2/15
Nishimura, Roy
1933-1937
2/16
Nye, Gerald P.
1942
2/17
N Misc.
1929-1954
2/18
Okada, Hito
1935-1938
2/19
Okuzaki, George
1931-1932
2/20
O Misc.
1932-1954
2/21
Powell, Mildred T.
1937-1950
2/22
Priestley, William
1944
2/23
P Misc.
1931-1950
2/24
Rademaker, John
1940-1942
2/25
R Misc.
1943-1950
2/26
Sakimura, Mary
1931-1941
2/27
Sakuravchi, Tokuya
1931-1941
2/28
Schwellenbach, Lewis B.
1938
2/29
Seattle. Public Schools
1934-1944
2/30
Shibata, Welly
1931-1941
2/31
Shinoda, Michio
1942-1944
2/32
Slocum, Tokutaro Nishimura
1931-1941
2/33
Suzuki, Arthur & Setsu
1942-1944
2/34-2/37
S Misc.
1929-1951
2/38
Takagi, Tom
1939-1950
2/39
Thomas, Elbert D.
1942
2/40
Tibesar, L.H.
1941-1954
2/41-2/41
Togasaki, Susumu (Sim)
1932-1952
2/43
Tsukamoto, Walter
1933-1941
2/44
T Misc.
1931-1944
3/1-3/2
U.S. War Relocation Authority
1942-1943
3/3
U.S. Misc.
1935-1944
3/4
Uno, Chick
n.d.
3/5
Uno, Buddy
ca.1933
3/6
U Misc.
1931-1944
3/7
Wallgren, Monrad C.
1942
3/8
Watanabe, Martha
n.d.
3/9
Wheeler, Burton K.
1942
3/10
W Misc.
1942-1955
3/11
Yatabe, Tom T.
1932-1943
3/12
Y Misc.
1931-1943
3/13
Unidentified
1931-1944
Box/Folder
3/14-3/73, 4/1-4/63
Outgoing Letters
1928-1951
General Correspondence
Box/Folder
4/64
A-E Misc.
1935-1941
4/65
Fletcher, Ed
1937
4/66
F-G Misc.
1942-1943
4/67
H Misc.
1935-1942
4/68
I Misc.
1927-1944
4/69
J Misc.
1931-1950
5/1
K-L Misc.
1933-1944
5/2
Martin, Clarence
1940
5/3
Mitchell, Hugh
1949
5/4
M Misc.
1937-1944
5/5
N Misc.
1937-1941
5/6
O Misc.
1937-1942
5/7
R Misc.
1944, 1950
5/8
S Misc.
1938, 1943
5/9
T Misc.
1933-1950
5/10
U.S. Misc.
1942-1944
5/11
U-X Misc.
1933-1951
5/12
Y Misc.
1937-1940
Correspondence: Case Files
Box/Folder
5/13
Hara, Seiichi - Re: Internment
1942-1944
5/14
Harada, Sueki - Re: Immigration
1933
5/15
Hasegawa, Hideto - Re: Internment
1942
5/16
Kihara, Ichimatsu - Re: Internment
1942-1944
5/17
Matsura, ? - Re: Immigration
1950
5/18
Muriyama, Ethel - Re: Citizenship
1955
5/19
Togasaki, Yoshiko - Re: Immigration
1938
5/20
Utsunomiya, Fumihisa - Re: Citizenship
1950
5/21
Misc. - Re: Internment
1942-1944
Speeches and Writings
Box/Folder
6/1-6/2
By James Sakamoto
6/3
By others
Box/Folder
6/4-6/11
Legislation
1935-1940
6/12-6/20, 7/1-7/5
Clippings
7/6-7/12
Newsletters
7/13-7/24
Newspapers
7/25
Memorabilia
7/26
Photographs
8, 9/1-9/5
Ephemera
9/6-9/7
Miscellany
Subject Series
Evacuation
Box/Folder
10/1
Bibliography
10/2-10/6 Dec.1941-June 1942
10/7
10/8
10/9-10/11
10/12
Camp Harmony
Box/Folder
10/13
10/14-10/18 1942
10/19 1942
10/20
General Correspondence
1942
10/21
10/22 1942
10/23
10/24
10/25
Minidoka Relocation Center
Box/Folder
10/26
10/27-10/28 1942-1944
10/29
Outgoing Letters
1942-1943
10/30 1942-1944
10/31
10/32
10/33
Camp Regulations
10/34-10/36
10/37
Newspaper
10/38

Japanese American Citizens' LeagueReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box/Folder
11/1-11/8
History and Constitution
11/9-11/38, 12
Correspondence
Ccorrespondence for the JACL has been filed by chapter.
13/1-13/17
Minutes
13/18-13/20
Financial Records
13/21
Legal Documents
13/22
Speeches & Writings
13/23
Press Releases
13/24
Resolutions
13/25-13/28
Legislation
14/1-14/8
Conference Reports & Agenda
14/9
Membership Fiats
14/10
Ephemera
14/11
Miscellany
Subject Series
Box/Folder
15/1-15/28
Emergency Defense Council
15/29-15/41
Pacific Citizen (newspaper)

Japanese American CourierReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box/Folder
16/1-16/4
History & Organization
16/5-16/58, 17, 18/1-18/7
Incoming Letters
18/1-18/107
Outgoing Letters
19, 20/1-20/4
General Correspondence
20/5-20/22
Financial Records
20/23
Legal Documents
20/24-20/29
Speeches & Writings
20/30
Press Releases
21/1-21/10
Name Lists
21/11
Newspapers -Courier Copies
21/12-21/16
Miscellany
Subject Series
Box/Folder
21/17-21/27
Courier Cooking School
Box
22 & 23
Duplicate Material

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Concentration camp inmates--Idaho--Hunt
  • Concentration camp inmates--Washington (State)--Puyallup
  • Concentration camps--Idaho--Hunt
  • Concentration camps--Washington (State)--Puyallup
  • Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
  • Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945--Newspapers
  • Japanese Americans--Washington (State)
  • World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Idaho--Hunt
  • World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Washington (State)--Puyallup
  • World War, 1939-1945--Japanese Americans
  • Personal Names :
  • Sakamoto, James Y., 1903-1955--Archives
  • Corporate Names :
  • Japanese American Citizens' League
  • Minidoka Relocation Center
  • Puyallup Assembly Center (Puyallup, Wash.)
  • Titles within the Collection :
  • Japanese-American Courier

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)