Scope and Content
Title: Katano Family Papers
Collection Number: mssHM 79381-79416
Katano, Tameko Dorothy
40 items in 1 box
The Huntington Library,
Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2191
Abstract: The majority of the collection consists of correspondence sent to the Katano
family while they were interred at the Manzanar War Relocation Center in Inyo County, California, from 1942 to
1945. Many of the letters were sent to Tomeko Dorothy Katano, who was at Manzanar
from ages 19-22.
Language of Material: The records are in English and
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[Identification of item]. Katano Family Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Purchased from Vigilante Rare Documents on February 11, 2013.
Takaichi “Frank” Katano (born 1886) and Kazue “Mary” Katano (born 1902) were natives of
Japan who settled in Los Angeles, California. Takaichi was trained in hotel management and Kazue
was an amateur dressmaker. Their daughter Tameko “Dorothy” Katano (born 1923) graduated
from high school and was working as a sales clerk in the early 1940s. In 1942 the
family, along with sons Yasunari Katano (b.1927), possibly called George, and Kanya
Katano (born 1930), was sent to the Manzanar War Relocation Center. The elder Katanos,
Tameko, and probably Kanya were still in the camp as of June 1945, although by July
1945 Tameko was planning a trip to New York. Yasumani lived in Iowa from July 1944
and attended Central College in Pella, Iowa.
Scope and Content
The majority of the collection consists of correspondence sent to the Katano family
while they were interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center from 1942 to 1945.
Many of the letters were sent to Tomeko Dorothy Katano, who was at Manzanar from
ages 19-22. Some of Tameko’s acquaintances describe their daily activities (one
friend wrote in September 1942 of going to see 'Pride of the Yankees,' playing in a
soccer league, and spending time at the beach, noting that “nothing new happens
around here”), while others write of their own wartime experiences (a friend named
Jack Tilson wrote of the difficulties of obtaining certain supplies, and the added
burden of his wife having a leg amputated). Some of the letters only allude to the
Katanos’ situation in the relocation center (a beau of Tameko’s urged her to “Have
no fear [and] let us be Merry and Happy,” while a school acquaintance wrote to her
brother Kanya in 1942 that “We all miss you and the other friends now missing from
our school”), while others were more explicit. A letter from Tilson dated January
10, 1944, urged Tameko and her family to study the U.S. Constitution and remember
their rights as American citizens, while acknowledging that “there is an element in
California that are against you, but that’s one of the consequences of war…it will
pass away in time." An acquaintance named Mrs. Bruggemann wrote to Tameko in August
1942 that “it is a great thing we sent [a parcel of peaches] when we did – because
that was the last time trucks went up to Manzanar. Everything goes by train now.”
Mrs. Bruggemann also alluded to the bleak situation outside the camp, writing that
“I …wanted to get to your father’s auction…[but] most everything was gone from your
store and what remained did not look like anything your father had owned.” While
little of the Katanos' own correspondence is included in the collection, an unnamed
friend wrote to Takaichi Katano that “I was very sad when you wrote about you being
unhappy and lonely but I hope for you[r] sake that you shall be happy oh very happy
in the future.” In a letter dated Feb. 22, 1945, a friend named Mack Mayada described
the difficulties he had encountered since leaving “dear old Manzanar.” He had moved
to Cleveland, Ohio, but had difficulty finding a place to live and did not “like the
Japanese out here…Some of them think that they’re pretty good. I think that the
whites are better.” He planned to return to the West Coast, where despite his
experiences he still felt “more at home” (Feb. 22, 1945). Some of the letters are
also from companies and libraries that Tameko had ordered or borrowed books from.
Two of the letters are in Japanese.
The remainder of the collection consists of ephemera, including receipts from
Manzanar businesses and an invitation to a wedding at a Manzanar church, library and
membership cards (including Tameko’s membership card in the Manzanar Young Buddhist
Association), a report card from Central College for Yasumani Katano, and a
physiology exam taken by Tameko.
The collection is arranged chronologically in two sections: 1) correspondence
and 2) ephemera.
Katano, Tameko Dorothy,
Japanese Americans--Evacuation and
World War, 1939-1945--Japanese
World War, 1939-1945--United