Finding aid for the Mollie Wilson Murphy Papers

Yoko Shimojo
Japanese American National Museum
369 East First Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 830-5680
Email: hnrc@janm.org
URL: http://www.janm.org/
© 2010
Japanese American National Museum. All rights reserved.

Finding aid for the Mollie Wilson Murphy Papers

Collection number: 2000.378.1

Japanese American National Museum

Los Angeles, California
Processed by:
Marlon Romero
Encoded by:
Yoko Shimojo
© 2010 Japanese American National Museum. All rights reserved.

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

Access

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
Colorado
Wyoming
Arizona
Assembly centers
California
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


Collection Contents

Box 1

Folder 1:

Scope and Content Summary

1 short letter written by Tomoko Ikeda to Molly Wilson, June 10, 1942. Letter was written from an assembly center or a relocation center, and mentions adjusting to food in center and missing school.
 

Folder 2:

Scope and Content Summary

4 photographs on a portion of a scrapbook page, ca. 1940s. From left to right, upper left corner: (1) Portrait of Mary Murakami. She has curly hair, wears eyeglasses, colored shirt and vest. (2) Portrait of Fujiko Murakami, Mary's sister. She wears pigtails and checkered jacket, and head tilted to proper left side. (3) Image of Mollie Wilson and Mary Murakami standing in front of a house. Mollie wears long-sleeved shirt, vest, and pants. Mary wears a floral dress. (4) Image of Mary in same location as photo no.3.
 

Folder 2:

Scope and Content Summary

1 of 4 photographs on a portion of a scrapbook page, ca. 1940s. Image of Molly Wilson and Mary Murakami standing in front of a house. Molly wears long-sleeved shirt, vest, and pants. Mary wears a floral dress.
 

Folder 3:

Scope and Content Summary

14 letters and 5 postcards written by Sandie Saito to Molly Wilson. Dates from April 3, 1942 to January 24, 1945. Correspondence started when Sandie Saito was interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center, then from Amache Camp, and from her residence in Chicago, IL
 

Folder 4:

Scope and Content Summary

Birthday greeting card written by Sandie Saito to Mollie Wilson. White/purple card with illustration in purple/green of a bouquet of pansies, borders in purple. "Birthday Remembrance" on top center on front of card. Includes white envelope addressed to Mollie Wilson; not stamped nor postmarked. Ca. 1945. Correspondence started when Sandie Saito was interned at the Santa Anita Assembly Center, then from Amache Camp, and from her residence in Chicago, IL.
 

Folder 5:

Scope and Content Summary

Assortment of newsletters, "Kampus Krier" published by the Poston Senior High School, May 14, 1943; and, "Echoes" published by the Journalism class of the Heart Mountain High School, December 9, 1942.
 

Folder 6:

Scope and Content Summary

15 letters and 2 postcards written by Mary Murakami to Molly Wilson. Dates from June 4, 1942 to February 10, 1945. Written in Poston Concentration camp and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
 

Folder 7:

Scope and Content Summary

Postcard written by Mary Murakami to Mollie Wilson. Dated August 1, 1943. White card with black print and illustration on front of a bank check for 3 cents for Mollie Wilson. Black ink writing and 1 cent green stamp postmarked from Poston, Arizona.
 

Folder 8:

Scope and Content Summary

Single page letter written by Mary Murakami to Molly Wilson. Dated June 28, 1942. Includes envelope with 3 cent purple stamp, postmarked Poston, Arizona and addressed to Molly Wilson in Los Angeles, California.
 

Folder 9:

Scope and Content Summary

6-page mimeographed copy of a speech entitled, "Address to the Sheriffs of California" by Robert W. Kenny, Attorney General of California, Sheriff's meeting, Sacramento, California. Dated March 16, 1945.
 

Folder 10:

Scope and Content Summary

10-page mimeographed copy of a speech entitled "Racism and Reason," published by the Department of the Interior, War Relocation Authority, Washington, DC. Address was to be delivered by Dillon S. Myer, Director of the War Relocation authority at an interfaith meeting sponsored by the Pacific Coast Committee on American Principles and Fair Play, at Los Angeles, Oct. 2, 1944.
 

Folder 11:

Scope and Content Summary

A children's birthday card with envelope addressed to Molly Wilson. Illustration of 2 cats on card. Card for Millard turning 4 years old, and signed from "Little Kennie." Envelope stamped March 6, 1945.
 

Folder 12:

Scope and Content Summary

2 letters each with envelope addressed to Mollie Wilson from Nobie who was interred at Manzanar Concentration Camp. Letters dated April 14, 1943 and October 8, 1943.
 

Folder 13:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 4 letters with envelopes addressed to Molly Wilson dated July 10, 1943 though July 20, 1944 from Lillian Igasaki when she was interned at Manzanar and relocated to Waukesha, Wisconsin.
 

Folder 14:

Scope and Content Summary

Postcard addressed to Molly Wilson dated May 20, 1942 from Haruko Nagahiro upon arriving at the Pomona Reception Center, Pomona, CA.
 

Folder 15:

Scope and Content Summary

1 letter with envelope and 1 postcard addresed to Mollie Wilson from Sako of Poston Camp in Arizona. Dated December 7, 1944 and December 23, 1944.
 

Folder 16:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 13 letters with envelopes addressed to Molly Wilson from Yuri Shimohochi of Heart Mountain, Wyoming and Lawrence, Kansas. Dated August 1, 1942 through December 23, 1944.
 

Folder 17:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 7 letters with envelopes addressed to Molly Wilson from Miyeko Imamura from Heart Mountain, Wyoming. Dated August 6, 1942 through December 19, 1944.
 

Folder 18:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 13 letters with envelopes addressed to Molly Wilson from Violet Saito in Amache Camp and relocated to Chicago, Illinois. Dated June 24, 1942 through January 29, 1945.
 

Folder 19:

Scope and Content Summary

1 letter (4 p.) and envelope from Violet Saito to Molly Wilson in Los Angeles, California. Saito was in Amache Concentration camp in Colorado during World War II. Includes envelope with single 3-cent purple stamp and includes sender's return address; postmarked March 22, 1943.
 

Folder 20:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 11 letters with envelopes and postcards addressed to Molly Wilson from June Yoshigai at the Santa Anita Assembly Center, Gila Rivers Camp, Arizona and relocated to De Kalb, Illinois. Dated May 30, 1942 through January 22, 1945.
 

Folder 21:

Scope and Content Summary

1 letter (3 p.) and envelope from June Yoshigai to Molly Wilson in Los Angeles, California. Includes envelope; 3 cent purple stamp and postmarked March 22, 1943. Drawing on envelope flap of the Arizona desert including image of cactus, mountains, sage brush, snake, scorpion and desert storm; written above illustration: "Arizona is Red Hot! (And I do mean HOT!)". Yoshigai was in Gila River Concentration camp in Arizona during World War II.
 

Folder 22:

Scope and Content Summary

1 letter (2 p.) and envelope from June Yoshigai to Molly Wilson in Los Angeles, California. Pages have red/white/blue Victory "V" symbol on top center edge. Envelope has blue "V" for Victory symbol on top left corner; single 3-cent purple stamp on upper right corner. Yoshigai was in Gila River Concentration camp in Arizona during World War II.
 

Folder 23:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 5 letters with envelopes and 1 postcard addressed to Mollie Wilson from Lillian Nishioka and/or Sadae Nishioka in Poston Camp, Arizona. Dated June 11, 1942 through August 11, 1943.
 

Folder 24:

Scope and Content Summary

1 letter (3 p.) and envelope from Sadae Nishioka to Mollie Wilson in Los Angeles, California. Return address on envelope from Lillian Nishioka in Poston Camp, Arizona. Envelope has one 3-cent purple stamp and postmarked June 11, 1942. Nishioka was in Poston Concentration camp in Arizona during World War II.
 

Folder 25:

Scope and Content Summary

Total of 17 letters with envelopes addressed to Molly Wilson from Chiyeko Akahoshi during Chiyeko's internment at the Manzanar Concentration Camp, California. Dated April 28, 1942 through January 20, 1945.
 

Folder 26:

Scope and Content Summary

A portion of a scrapbook page containing 8 portraits of Japanese American girls. Some of the portraits contain inscriptions to Molly Wilson on the photos while others are written on the page next to the photo. Ca. 1940s. Some of the girls identified are: Mary Yano, Kazuko Matsuda, Dorothy Takiya[rest were cut off], Katsumi Hirooka, Lillian Igasaki.
 

Folder 27:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w photo of 2 women and men, posed in front of railing on a bridge. They appear to be in a park. Behind them are trees and in the distance in the lower left is a house. The women are wearing dresses and overcoats. The couple on the right is Fred Nishi and Mary Murakami with friends Kim Nagano and Micky Nagano. The men appear to be wearing suits. Taken in Minneapolis during the war. Photo autographed in corner: To Molly. With Love, Mary. Ca. 1940s.
 

Folder 28:

Scope and Content Summary

1 portion of a scrapbook page corner containing an image of a young girl, Yuri Shimobuchi. She is wearing a polka-dotted blouse and jacket. Autographed on upper left and lower right corners: To Molly, From Yuri Shimobuchi. Ca. 1940s.
 

Folder 29:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w photo of Violet Saito posing in front of barracks in Amache camp on her graduation day. She is wearing a dress with a corsage near her left shoulder, and a bow in her hair. Autographed on front: Dearest Mollie, Love Violet '43. On back: June 24, 1943, Graduation day.
 

Folder 30:

Scope and Content Summary

1 portion of a scrapbook page corner containing b/w photos. Left photo is of Lillian Sadae Nishioka wearing a thin lei or necklace. Right photo is of Frances Nishioka. Left photo autographed: To Molly, Sadae. Right photo autographed: Frances Nishioka. Ca. 1940s.
 

Folder 31:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w photo of Sandie Saito standing in the west end of the football field in Amache, Colorado. Sandie is wearing a collared shirt, Roosevelt High School letterman's sweater and shirt, and a bow in her hair. Behind her are barracks and 2 men. Caption along bottom edge reads: January 23, 1943. Photo autographed on front: To Molly, [illegible] Sandie. On back: This picture was taken way at the west end of the football field.
 

Folder 32:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w photo attached to torn portion of a scrapbook page. Photo is a headshot of Sandie Saito. She is wearing a collared blouse and jacket. Flowers, leaves and ivy frame her face on left, lower left, and upper right edges. Behind her on right is a column. Autographed on front: To Molly, Always, Sandie. Ca. 1940s.
 

Folder 33:

Scope and Content Summary

4 b/w photographs attached to torn portion of a scrapbook page. L to R: 3 headshots of Kazuko Akahoshi. In the first photo she is wearing a light colored top, artificial flowers behind her on right side. Next two photos she is wearing the same top, collared blouse with flowers, and a bow in her hair. Same flowers behind her. Fourth picture is a headshot of Miyeko Imamura. She is wearing a collared blouse and vest, and bow in her hair. Flowers, leaves and ivy frame her face along left, lower left, and upper right edges and corners. Column behind her on right. Ca. 1940s.
 

Folder 34:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w photo of Kumiko and Sandie Saito (L to R). Both are standing and Kumiko has her arms around Sandie's neck. Kumiko has a scarf around her hair tied at top. She is wearing a striped, long sleeved shirt and knee length skirt. Sandie also has scarf around her hair tied at bottom. She is wearing a short sleeved shirt and knee length skirt. Behind them is a hedge. In the distance are palm trees, buildings and telephone poles.
 

Folder 35:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w portrait of Chiyeko Akahoshi. Chiyeko has curly hair and a bow in her hair. She is wearing a short-sleeved blouse and floral vest. Autographed on back: To Molly, Always, Chiyeko Akahoshi. November 27, 1943.
 

Folder 36:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w photo of Michiko Mary Harada. She is wearing a short-sleeved collared shirt and pants, hair pulled back. She is standing on grass. Behind her is a sidewalk and tall hedges. Further back is a building. Ca. 1940s.
 

Folder 37:

Scope and Content Summary

1 b/w image of 3 girls posed in front of a house. L to R: Chiyeko Akahoshi, Kazuko Akahoshi, and Yoko Akahoshi. Chiyeko and Kazuko are wearing short-sleeved dresses. Behind them are steps that appear to lead to the porch of a house. Large bush to the right. Photo is slightly blurry. 1930-1940.