Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Title: Estelle Ishigo papers
Date (inclusive): 1941-1957
Collection number: 2010
Creator: Ishigo, Estelle
5 boxes (2.5 linear ft.)
6 oversize boxes
Abstract: Estelle (Peck) Ishigo (1899- ) was born in Oakland, California. She attended Otis Art Institute where she met and married
San Franciscan Nisei, Arthur Ishigo (ca. 1929). Following Pearl Harbor, both were fired from their jobs and Arthur was ordered
to a concentration camp. Estelle voluntarily accompanied him, and they were eventually assigned to Heart Mountain concentration
camp in Wyoming. Estelle documented life at the camp through her artwork. The collection consists of documents, records, correspondence,
photographs, paintings, pencil drawings and sketches, and watercolor sketches related to Estelle Ishigo's life in the Pomona
Assembly Center, California and the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming. There is also material related to the Ishigo's
postwar resettlement in Southern California.
Language: Finding aid is written in
University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special
Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
Restrictions on Access
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special
Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright,
are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of
the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the
copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC
Regents do not hold the copyright.
Regarding the following item:
- Item no. 17 (Box 78, Folder 6) Geo Hirahara, Heart Mt., Wyoming. Date Created: November 9, 1945
- (1 photograph : black and white ; 13 x 18 cm.)
Per communication from fourth generation descendant Patti Hirahara in 2011, this photograph was taken by George Hirahara on
February 15, 1945, the father of Frank Hirahara, who is standing in the photograph facing the barracks and skyline of Heart
Mountain Japanese Internment Camp in Wyoming.
The original signed photograph, with holograph inscription on the corner, "Geo Hirahara at Heart Mt. Wyo 9-9-45" was removed
from the collection in March 2011, and provided to Patti Hirahara upon her claim of ownership. Ms. Hirahara provided an unsigned
original print of the same photograph as a replacement.
Background information on the Hirahara Family
The Hirahara family immigrated to the Yakima Valley in Washington State in 1909 from Wakayama-Ken, Japan. Three generations
of the Hirahara Family were interned in Heart Mountain, Wyoming from 1942-1945.
George and Frank Hirahara were avid photographers in Heart Mountain from 1943-1945. George was a member of the Heart Mountain
Camera club and created his own photo darkroom under his barrack. His son Frank was Photo Editor of the 1944 Tempo Yearbook,
while a Senior at Heart Mountain High School and ASB Commissioner of General Activities.
Frank Hirahara came back from Washington State University to Heart Mountain in February of 1945 due to his Grandfather Motokichi
Hirahara being ill and passing away six days later.
A signed print dated September 9, 1945 from photographer George Hirahara was donated by Estelle Ishigo to UCLA to be included
in her collection.
Original online finding aid from 1997
[Identification of item], Estelle Ishigo papers (Collection 2010). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research
UCLA Catalog Record ID
Estelle (Peck) Ishigo was born in Oakland, California, 1899; attended Otis Art Institute; met and married San Franciscan Nisei,
Arthur Ishigo (ca. 1929); following Pearl Harbor, both were fired from their jobs and Arthur ordered to a concentration camp;
Estelle voluntarily accompanied him and they were eventually assigned to Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming; Estelle
documented life at the camp through her artwork; they lived in poverty for many years following the war; Arthur died, 1957;
fellow Heart Mountain inmates helped Ishigo republish her 1972 book,
Lone Heart Mountain, ca. 1984; filmmaker Steven Okazaki made a documentary of Ishigo's life titled,
Days of Waiting; she died before seeing the film (1990).
Additional Biographical Narrative
Estelle Ishigo was a Caucasian artist and daughter of a concert singer and portrait and landscape artist. Born in Oakland,
California, Estelle was surrounded by music and art. At age four, she showed promising abilities in painting and singing.
By age twelve, she learned to play the violin.
While attending Otis Art School in Los Angeles, Estelle met Arthur Shigeharu Ishigo (1902-1957), a San Francisco-born Nisei
and aspiring actor. They were married in 1928.
At the outbreak of World War II, husband and wife were placed in the Pomona Assembly Center. Eventually, Estelle accompanied
her husband to the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp in Wyoming where she was commissioned by the War Relocation Authority (WRA)
to sketch her experiences.
During her three and a half year internment, Estelle helped with the camp newspapers and played violin in the camp's Mandolin
Band. When the war ended and the camps closed, the Ishigos left Heart Mountain and returned to Southern California where they
lived in a trailer camp and worked in fish canneries in San Pedro. Two years later, Arthur procured work at the Los Angeles
International Airport which enabled them to visit New York, Chicago, Dallas, and Mexico City.
After Arthur passed away in 1957, Estelle stayed in seclusion until the California Historical Society asked to show her paintings
Months of Waiting exhibit.
Discovered by the Hollywood Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Estelle's
Lone Heart Mountain was published in 1972, a book which she wrote and sketched during her encampment years.
Just two years before Estelle's death, Producer/Director Steven Okazaki released the film
Days of Waiting about Estelle's life as one of the few Caucasians to be interned with 100,000 Japanese Americans. The film earned the Academy
Award for Best Documentary Short Subject and received the prestigious George Peabody Award. Estelle Ishigo's extraordinary
artistic talent as well as her devotion to her husband make
Days of Waiting a poignant retrospection.
Scope and Content
Collection consists of documents, records, correspondence, photographs, paintings, pencil drawings and sketches, and watercolor
sketches related to Estelle Ishigo's life in the Pomona Assembly Center, California and the Heart Mountain Relocation Center,
Wyoming. The collection also includes material related to the Ishigo's postwar resettlement in Southern California. Additionally
there are short essays, manuscripts, and draft manuscripts by Estelle Ishigo.
Expanded Scope and Content Note
The Estelle Ishigo papers are a part of the Japanese American Research Project (JARP) Collection (Collection 2010). JARP is
considered one of the finest collections of primary sources in the United States on Japanese immigration history. Conducted
under the sponsorship of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), JARP was a socio-historical research project which
began in 1962 and lasted until 1972. During the course of the project, the JARP staff amassed a sizable body of material in
the Japanese language which became the core of the JARP Collection. Additions were made as they were obtained.
The Ishigo papers is part of the Nisei personal papers section of JARP's manuscript holdings. It consists mainly of documents,
records, correspondence and other materials relating both to Estelle Ishigo's life in the Pomona Assembly Center, California,
and the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming, as well as documents, correspondence and materials relating to Arthur and
Estelle Ishigo's postwar resettlement in Southern California. The papers also contain Estelle Ishigo's manuscripts, short
essays and draft manuscripts. Noteworthy is the presence of Estelle's various paintings, sketches and watercolors.
For the history of the Japanese American Research Project (JARP) see Yasuo Sakata's introduction in
A Buried Past: An Annotated Bibliography of the Japanese American Research Project Collection, (Berkeley; University of California Press, 1974).
Organization and Arrangement
Estelle Ishigo papers are found in Boxes 77-81, 719, 769, 781, 783, 788, and 863 of the
Title: Japanese American Research Project Collection of Material about Japanese in the United States
Identifier/Call Number: (Collection 2010).
Arranged in the following series:
- Biographical materials and internment camp correspondence (Box 77).
- Documents, records, and other materials relating to Estelle's life in the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp and Federal Public
Housing Authority resettlement trailer camps in Southern California (Box 78).
- Correspondence and documents relating to the Ishigo's evacuation claims and manuscripts for Estelle Ishigo's short stories
and essays (Box 79).
- Miscellany and published materials (Box 80).
- Artwork at the relocation camp (Boxes 81, 719, 769, 781, 783, 788, 863).
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Women artists--California--Archival resources.
Japanese evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
Japanese American Research Project (University of California, Los Angeles).
Genres and Forms of Material
Manuscripts for publication.
Days of Waiting
Physical Description: 28 minutes/Color/VHS-NTSC video-tape.
Copyright owned by Mouchette Films. Produced and directed by
Identifier/Call Number: Library Special Collections Backlog #146433
Available at UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.
Lone Heart Mountain
Physical Description: Book with illustrations. 104pp. 26 centimeters.
Identifier/Call Number: Call Number D 769.8 A6I7.