Information for Researchers
Scope and Content
Collection Title: Yoshiko Uchida photograph collection
Date (inclusive): circa 1903-1991
Collection Number: BANC PIC
316 items (chiefly photographic prints and negatives)
278 digital objects
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
Abstract: Photographs related to the life and work of Japanese American
author Yoshiko Uchida, including photographs of family and friends, as well as photographs
related to her career as a writer. Some images are of Tanforan, Heart Mountain and Topaz
Japanese relocation centers as well as Smith College.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite
and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these
materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
Copyrights have been assigned to The Bancroft Library. Materials in this collection is
protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of
some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase
agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks.
Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by
fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public
domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner.
Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials
must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library,
University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See:
[Identification of item], Preferred Citation Title Unavailable, BANC PIC 1986.059--PIC,
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
University of Oregon, Library. Eugene, Oregon. Yoshiko Uchida Collection.
University of Minnesota. Children's Literature Research Collections: Kerlan
Collection. University Libraries, Minneapolis, Minn.
Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, Calif.
Material Cataloged Separately
Yoshiko Uchida Papers, 1903-1994 (BANC MSS 86/97 c)
Printed works transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the
library's online public access catalog
Uchida, Yoshiko--Pictorial works
Tanforan Assembly Center (San Bruno, Calif.)--Pictorial works
Central Utah Relocation Center--Pictorial works
Japanese American authors--Photographs
Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945--Photographs
Transferred from the Yoshiko Uchida Papers, which were given to The Bancroft Library by
Yoshiko Uchida in increments beginning in 1984. The final addition to her papers was made
by the Estate of Yoshiko Uchida in December 1992.
The photographs have been arranged by library staff into the following series: Pre Camp,
Mitsui & Co., Relocation (Topaz, Heart Mountain, and Tanforan), Post Camp, and
The Pre-Camp series consists of images prior to the internment of the Uchida family
during World War Two, including family portraits and snapshots dating from 1903-ca. 1942.
The Mitsui & Co. series consists of a small number of images of the staff of
Mitsui & Company in San Francisco, ca. 1917-1930.
The three series of Relocation views consist of approximately 25 snapshots and group
portraits taken at the Topaz, Heart Mountain, and Tanforan camps. A few general views of
camps are present. Several snapshots of Uchida attending college in Massachusetts are also
present. See also the Artwork series.
The Post Camp series encompasses all the images related to Uchida's personal and
professional life after World War Two, arranged roughly chronologically.
The Artwork series consists of 18 copy photographs of artwork. The bulk of this small
series is 15 slides of art and documents relating to the Japanese internment.
The Bancroft Library staff
Yoshiko Uchida was born in Alameda, California in 1921, the second daughter of Takashi
("Dwight") and Iku Umegaki Uchida. Dwight Uchida immigrated to the
United States from Japan in 1903 and worked for the San Francisco offices of Mitsui and
Company, where he eventually became a manager. Iku Umegaki, the eldest daughter of a
prefectural governor of Japan, immigrated to the U.S. in 1916 to marry Dwight Uchida. Both
were graduates of Doshisha University, one of the early Christian universities of Japan,
and were early and active members of the Sycamore Congregational Church in El Cerrito,
Uchida and her older sister, Keiko ("Kay"), grew up in Berkeley, Calif.
By Uchida's own account, her family was close-knit and supportive. The written
word was very important to Uchida's parents: her mother wrote poetry, the
thirty-one syllable Japanese tanka, and her father was a prolific correspondent.
Uchida's own interest in writing began early. At the age of ten, she wrote
stories such as "Jimmy Chipmunk and His Friends" and "Willie
the Squirrel" on brown wrapping paper. Uchida attended Longfellow School in
Berkeley and University High School in Oakland. She graduated with honors from the
University of California in 1942, with a B.A. in English, Philosophy, and History.
Uchida, however, was unable to attend her graduation ceremonies. After Japan bombed Pearl
Harbor in December 1941 and the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt
issued Executive Order 9066, forcing the removal of all persons of Japanese descent (both
American citizens and non-citizens) living on the western coast of the United States into
centralized detention camps. Dwight Uchida was arrested, detained, and sent to a
prisoner-of-war camp in Missoula, Montana. Uchida and her mother and sister had only ten
days to pack all their possessions and vacate the house where they had lived for fifteen
years. In May 1942, they were removed to the Tanforan Racetrack Relocation Center, where
Yoshiko received her university diploma in the horse stall that served as temporary
barracks for the evacuees.
Eventually, Dwight Uchida was allowed to join his family at Tanforan, and in September
1942, the Uchida family was transferred to the Topaz Relocation Camp in the Utah desert.
In May 1943, both Yoshiko and Kay were able to leave the relocation camp. Kay, who had a
degree in child development, left to work in the nursery school of the Department of
Education of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Yoshiko, with the help
of the National Student Relocation Council, left to attend Smith College in Northampton,
Mass., where she was awarded a graduate fellowship and received a Masters in Education.
Dwight and Iku Uchida were eventually sponsored to leave Topaz for Salt Lake City, and
finally settled in Philadelphia before the end of the war.
After graduation from Smith College, Uchida taught elementary school at a small Quaker
school on the outskirts of Philadelphia. She soon found that she had no time to devote to
writing and also became ill with mononucleosis. She moved to New York City, where her
sister was teaching in a private school, and worked as a secretary during the day to keep
her evenings free for writing. Uchida wrote short stories and submitted them to magazines,
but met with little success until she discovered her niche as a children's
author. In 1949, her first book, The Dancing Kettle, was published, followed in 1951 by
New Friends for Susan.
In 1952, Uchida was awarded a Ford Foundation Foreign Study and Research Fellowship to
Japan. While there, Uchida learned about Japanese folk art from the three prominent men
who founded the Japanese Folk Art Movement: the philosopher, Soetsu Yanagi, and master
potters, Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai. Uchida wrote a series of feature articles about
the Folk Art Movement for the Nippon Times, as well as a monograph about Kanjiro Kawai. On
her return to the U.S., she served as the west coast correspondent for Craft Horizons
After Uchida returned from Japan, she settled in Oakland, Calif., to care for her
parents, who were both in poor health. Iku Uchida died in 1966, and Dwight Uchida followed
in 1971. After her father's death, Uchida moved into her own apartment in
Berkeley, where she lived and worked for the remainder of her life.
Over the course of her career, Uchida wrote more than forty published works. Her books
include Journey to Topaz, Journey Home, and Desert Exile, which draw on her experiences
during World War II; The Dancing Kettle, The Magic Listening Cap, and The Sea of Gold,
which are compilations of folktales that she collected as a child and while in Japan; an
autobiography, The Invisible Thread; and the adult novel, Picture Bride. In addition to
writing, Uchida made personal appearances, gave talks and speeches, and answered the many
letters from her fans.
Uchida was honored with many awards, including the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, two
Commonwealth Club of California Juvenile Book Award Medals, the University of Oregon
Distinguished Service Award, the California Japanese Alumni Association Award, the
California Reading Association Award, the Japanese American of the Biennium Award, the
Japanese American Citizen's League Award, the Nikkei in Education Award, and the
Morris S. Rosenblatt Award from the Utah State Historical Society.
Uchida suffered from ill health during the later years of her life, which curtailed her
writing and her public appearances. She died in Berkeley on June 21, 1992.
Scope and Content
Photographs related to the life and work of Japanese American author Yoshiko Uchida. Many
family photographs are included dating from Uchida's youth, with some of her
parents and grandparents prior to her birth. The majority of the collection consists of
portraits and snapshots of the author herself, friends, associates, travels, and
professional activities. Photographs relating to her career as a writer include publicity
photographs, book signings, group portraits, schools and children. Some images are of
Tanforan, Heart Mountain and Topaz Japanese relocation centers as well as Smith College.