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Guide to the Mitsuye Yamada Papers MS.R.071
MS.R.071  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Alternative Forms of Material
  • Processing History
  • Biography
  • Biographical/Historical note
  • Bibliography
  • Collection Scope and Content Summary
  • Collection Arrangement
  • Separation Note

  • Title: Mitsuye Yamada papers
    Collection number: MS.R.071
    Contributing Institution: University of California, Irvine. Libraries. Special Collections and Archives.
    Irvine, California 92623-9557
    Language of Material: English.
    Physical Description: 10.1 Linear feet (28 boxes and 1 oversized folder)
    Date (inclusive): 1940-2005
    Abstract: The collection comprises the papers of Mitsuye Yamada, a Japanese American poet and political activist who, as a teenager, was interned at Minadoka Relocation Center in Idaho during World War II. Her papers document her career as a writer, teacher, and human rights spokesperson, including her involvement with Amnesty International and the struggle by Japanese Americans to redress their treatment during the war. The collection also includes copies of Department of Justice and FBI files about her father's arrest and imprisonment during the war, which Yamada obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
    Creator: Yamada, Mitsuye

    Access

    The collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or to publish, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

    Preferred Citation

    Mitsuye Yamada papers. MS-R071. Special Collections and Archives, The UC Irvine Libraries, Irvine, California. Date accessed.
    For the benefit of current and future researchers, please cite any additional information about sources consulted in this collection, including permanent URLs, item or folder descriptions, and box/folder locations.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Mitsuye Yamada from 1998-2008.

    Alternative Forms of Material

    Processing History

    Processed by John Howard Fowler in 1999. Additions and revisions made by Cyndi Shein in 2008 and Joanna Lamb in 2010.

    Biography

    Mitsuye Yamada was born Mitsuye May Yasutake in Kyushu, Japan on July 5, 1923. When she was three years of age, her parents immigrated with their young family to the United States. Although she was sent back to Japan to live with her grandmother for eighteen months when she was 11-12 years old, Yamada spent most of her formative years in Seattle, Washington.
    On December 7, 1941, immediately following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mitsuye's father, Jack K. Yasutake was arrested and imprisoned at Fort Lewis, Washington. The rest of the Yasutake family was sent to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho. This experience made a deep impression on Yamada and informed much of her later literary and political career. After the war, she completed a B.A. at New York University and an M.A. at the University of Chicago, both in English literature. In 1950 she married Yoshikasu Yamada. The couple lived in New York for some years prior to moving to Orange County, California in the 1960s. In 1966 Yamada began teaching English at Fullerton Junior College. Her teaching career later included Cypress Junior College and a visiting professorships at campuses within the University of California system.
    In the mid-1970s Yamada began publishing her poetry and editing the poetry of others, and was soon actively involved in the Orange County literary scene. According to her own accounts, she moved away from the formalist training she received at NYU and later at the University of Chicago and embraced a style of poetry that emphasized "substance." In 1975 she co-edited an anthology written by like-minded poets, and in 1976 her own book, Camp Notes and Other Poems, was published by the Shameless Hussy Press. These publications were followed in 1986 by The Webs We Weave: Orange County Poetry Anthology, which she co-edited, and in 1988 by a new book of her own poems, Desert Run: Poems and Stories, published by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Her books reflect themes from her Japanese American heritage and her experiences in the internment camp. From the 1970s until well into the 1990s, Yamada engaged in an increasingly busy schedule of public readings, which became more and more focused on the political ideas underlying her poetry and often served as platforms for calls to political action.
    In part due to her camp experience, Yamada has been sensitive to issues involving ethnic diversity and women's rights. By 1975 she was a member of the Irvine chapter of Amnesty International (AI) and has since continued to support AI's goals and objectives, at times serving in national offices for the organization. She was also actively involved in supporting the redress movement, a political and legal campaign by Japanese Americans to receive financial and moral recompense for their treatment by the United States government during World War II. Her teaching career has reflected her political interests, and she was a strong early proponent of using lower-division English courses as an introduction to multiculturalism. She was a major participant in the successful movement to establish an Asian American Studies Program at the University of California, Irvine.

    Biographical/Historical note

    Chronology

    1923 July 5 Born Mitsuye May Yasutake in Kyushu, Japan to Jack Kaichire and Hide Yasutake.
    1926 or 1927 Immigrates with her family to the United States.
    circa 1934-1936 Returns to Japan to live with her grandmother for 18 months.
    1942-1943 Interned with her family at Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho.
    1943-1945 Permitted to leave Minidoka to work and study at the University of Cincinnati.
    1947 Receives B.A., New York University.
    1950 Marries Yoshikadzu Yamada, research chemist and watercolor artist.
    1951 November 28 Daughter Jeni Ellen Yamada born.
    1953 Receives M.A., University of Chicago.
    1955 Becomes a United States citizen.
    1957 December 4 Son Stephen Matthew Yamada born.
    1957 Studies at the Graduate School of Linguistics at Columbia University.
    1959 August 25 Son Douglas Kai Yamada born.
    1961 September 29 Daughter Hedi Louise Yamada born.
    1966-1969 Instructor, Humanities Division, Fullerton College.
    1969-1989 Instructor of English Literature and Composition and Coordinator of Women's Program, Cypress College.
    1975 Noon,
      Joins Irvine Urgent Action Group of Amnesty International.
    1976 Camp Notes and Other Poems
    1979 Receives Pacific Asian-American Center Award for service to the Asian American community.
    1980 Receives Orange County Arts Alliance Literary Arts Award.
      Founds Multicultural Women's Writers (MCWW) and serves as Coordinator.
    1981 Mitsuye and Nellie: Two American Poets.
    1981-1982 Lecturer, Women's Studies, CSU Long Beach.
    1982 Receives Vesta Award for Writing, Woman's Building of Los Angeles.
    1983 Serves as Resource Scholar, Multicultural Women's Institute, University of Chicago.
    1984 Receives Writer's Fellowship, Yaddo Artist Colony, Saratoga Springs, New York.
      Receives Award for Contribution to the Status of Women from the organization Women For: Orange County.
    1985 Receives Women's Network Alert Literature Award.
    1986 The Webs We Weave: Orange County Poetry Anthology
    1987 Visiting Poet, Pitzer College, Claremont, California.
      Receives Women of Distinction Award from Soroptomist International of the Americas.
      Begins service on Amnesty International U.S.A. Committee on International Development.
    1987-1991 Serves on Board of Directors for Amnesty International U.S.A.
    1988 Desert Run: Poems and Stories
    1989 Receives Distinguished Teacher Award from North Orange County Community College District upon retiring from Cypress College.
      Receives award for contributions to ethnic studies from MELUS.
    1990 Sowing Ti Leaves: Writings by Multicultural Women
    1990-1991 Visiting professor, M.F.A. Creative Writing Program, San Diego State University.
    1991 Participates in First Amnesty International Intersectional Meeting on Women and Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland.
      Serves as member of the U.S. delegation to Amnesty International council meetings in Yokohama, Japan.
      Receives Woman of Achievement Award from the Santiago Ranch Foundation.
    1991-1992 Visiting associate professor, University of California, Los Angeles.
    1992 Receives the Jesse Bernard Wise Women Award from the Center for Women's Policy Studies, Washington, D.C.
      Commencement speaker at CSU Northridge.
    1992-1995 Serves on the Board of Directors of the California Council for the Humanities.
    1993-1994 Visiting professor, M.F.A. Creative Writing Program, San Diego State University.
    1995 Receives "Write On, Women!" award from the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research.
    1997 Receives Give Women Voice Award during International Women's Day, U.S.A.
      Appointed adjunct assistant professor in Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

    Bibliography

    Sites of Shame. "One Family's Journey: The Yasutake Story." Densho: 2008. http://www.densho.org/sitesofshame/family.xml (accessed July 26, 2008).

    Collection Scope and Content Summary

    The collection comprises the papers of Mitsuye Yamada, a Japanese American poet and political activist who, as a teenager, was interned at Minadoka Relocation Center during World War II. It documents her career as a writer, teacher, and human rights spokesperson, including her involvement with the struggle by Japanese Americans to redress their treatment during the war. It contains a significant number of documents, internal memos, and other correspondence about local and national sections of Amnesty International, of which Yamada is a former board member. In addition to Yamada's personal papers, the collection also contains copies of Department of Justice and FBI files about her father's arrest and imprisonment during the war, which Yamada obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
    The collection documents Yamada's literary and teaching career through posters, fliers, announcements, reviews, course descriptions, and syllabi. It also documents her participation in the Multicultural Women Writers of Orange County, California, which she founded. The collection materials include correspondence, clippings, memoranda, video recordings and audio recordings that reflect her career and interests.

    Collection Arrangement

    This collection is arranged in six series.
    • Series 1. Biographical and family records, 1940-2002. 1 linear foot
    • Series 2. Japanese American relocation files, 1942-2000. 1.7 linear feet
    • Series 3. Literary materials and professional papers, 1942-2005. 2.2 linear feet
    • Series 4. Amnesty International records, 1975-1993. 2 linear feet
    • Series 5. Subject files, 1973-2004. 2.4 linear feet
    • Series 6. Audiovisual materials, 1972-1995. 0.8 linear feet

    Separation Note

    Several publications on political prisoners were removed from this collection and cataloged in the library's online catalog http://antpac.lib.uci.edu 

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Amnesty International -- Archives..
    Amnesty International.
    Minadoka Relocation Center -- Archives.
    Multicultural Women Writers of Orange County (Calif.) -- Archives.
    Yamada, Mitsuye -- Archives.
    Audiocassettes -- 20th century.
    Human rights advocacy -- California -- Orange County -- History -- Sources
    Human rights workers
    Japanese American women -- California -- Orange County
    Japanese Americans -- Civil rights
    Japanese Americans -- Ethnic Identity
    Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    Poets.
    Video recordings -- 20th century.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Japanese Americans -- Archives.
    World War, 1939-1945 -- Reparations