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Finding aid for the Mollie Wilson Murphy Papers
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Project Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Mollie Wilson Murphy papers
    Dates: 1942-1945
    Collection number: 2000.378.1
    Creator: Mollie Wilson Murphy, 1923-
    Collection Size: 0.5 linear feet
    Repository: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
    Los Angeles, California 90012
    Abstract: Mollie Wilson Murphy was an African-American woman who lived in Boyle Heights during World War II. She had many Japanese-American friends who were forced into Concentration camps during the war. This collection comprises of the correspondences between Mollie and her friends in camp. The Mollie Wilson Papers include correspondence, school photographs, and miscellaneous photos in Boyle Heights of Mollie and friends before the war, during and after camp. There are also mimeographs, and newspaper clippings.
    Physical location: Japanese American National Museum 369 East First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012


    By appointment only. Contact the Hirasaki National Resource Center by e-mail (hnrc@janm.org) or telephone (213.830.5680)

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Hirasaki National Resource Center at the Japanese American National Museum (hnrc@janm.org).

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Mollie Wilson Murphy papers. 2000.378.1 , Japanese American National Museum. Los Angeles, CA.

    Project Information

    This finding aid was created as part of a project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The project started in 2007. Project Director was Cris Paschild. Project Archivists were Yoko Shimojo and Marlon Romero.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Mollie Murphy grew up on Boulder Street between Evergreen and Sloat in Boyle Heights. Her brother Atoy graduated from Roosevelt in the late 1930s and Mollie graduated in summer 1943. The two of them had many close Japanese American friends and it seems that their street was very heterogeneous. Mollie wrote in a correspondence, "As a child, I vividly remember that on my street alone there were ten different ethnic families residing harmoniously together. My mother learned to cook from Jewish people, because she had not been taught by her own mother. It often amazed me how my mother could communicate with Mrs. Kokoris or Mrs. Akahoshi, because neither of them could speak English and my mother couldn't speak Greek nor Japanese! It goes to show, that when it comes to mutual problems, you don't always need words to express your thoughts."
    Throughout the war, Mollie corresponded with a number of her Japanese American girlfriends. Their correspondences extend the duration of the World War II exclusion, from the assembly centers (Santa Anita and Pomona) to the camps (Amache, Heart Mountain, Manzanar, Gila River, and Poston) to relocation. Her letters provide the opportunity to explore the incarceration experience from a non-Japanese perspective and reveals how Nisei teenagers represented their experiences to their non-Japanese American peers. Mollie's relationship with a number of these individuals continued well past World War II and into the present. Most recently, Mollie Wilson Murphy along with Mary (Murakami) Nishi and Sandie (Saito) Okada, participated in a collaborative interview for the Japanese American National Museum's Boyle Heights Oral History Project in 2002.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The order of the collection follows a strict rule of provenance. The collection is arranged at the folder-level where each folder has a high level of description. There are several letters, photographs, postcards, and newsletters from camp during 1942-1945. For additional resources, refer to the Japanese American National Museum's Boyle Heights Oral History Project located in the museum's Hirasaki National Resource Center.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Murphy, Mollie Wilson
    African Americans
    Japanese Americans
    Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    World War, 1939-1945
    Concentration camps
    Assembly centers
    20th century
    Concentration Camp life
    Concentration Camps, Amache
    Concentration Camps, Poston
    Concentration Camps, Heart Mountain
    Concentration camps, Gila River
    Concentration Camps, Manzanar
    Assembly Centers, Pomona
    Assembly Centers, Santa Anita