Tomoji Wada Family Papers
Tomoji Wada was an interpreter, bookkeeper, operator of a grocery store, and manufacturer of tofu and mochi on Terminal Island, California prior to World War II. He established a tofu manufacturing plant in the Poston camp in Arizona during the war, and became a gardener after returning from the incarceration camp to Los Angeles, California.
The collection consists of receipts, ledgers, a metal seal stamp, taxes, correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, journals, guidebooks, immigration materials, and incarceration camp records pertaining to Tomoji Wada and his family, including wood plaques with carved poems. Noted are materials evidencing Tomoji Wada’s assistance to the U.S. Department of War. The collection contains a letter from the War Department Local Board for Division No. 3 seeking assistance from him to get local Japanese residents to register for enlistment. There are questionnaires in Japanese created by Mr. Wada and his 1918 income tax return form listing the remuneration. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was arrested by the FBI but released shortly after, and there are letters in which he was granted “alien enemy permit to travel” from Terminal Island to Bakersfield after being released from the FBI. He was able to manage the family’s moving to Bakersfield, fleeing from the mass evacuation, but they were later incarcerated in the Poston camp. Mr. Wada itemized all of his property left behind and merchandise sold off on Terminal Island prior to his moving to Bakersfield showing his economic losses. There is a letter he wrote from the Poston camp challenging the tax collector to refund his tax payments.
Materials include born-digital objects created and transferred from the donor as well as digitized materials produced by the Gerth Archives and Special Collections.
- 1903-2016; undated
- Wada, Tomoji, 1882-1964 (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
Tomoji Wada (1882 October 2–1964 October 24) was the 11th head of the Wada clan, one of the local ruling families in Wakayama, Japan. The Wada clan is also a descendant of Chubei Yoritomo Wada, who was a whaling pioneer in Taiji, Wakayama, Japan, in the 15th century.
Tomoji Wada left Japan for Victoria British Columbia, Canada, in 1900 and stayed for six years, having a multiple jobs to make a living. He immigrated to the United States in 1907 and studied English and bookkeeping in Seattle, Washington. In 1917, he moved to Terminal Island, California, and worked as an interpreter and bookkeeper for T. Taniji Company, Star Canning Co. and Seacoast Packing Co., and was hired by the U.S. War Department to get local Japanese residents registered for enlistment. In 1928, he started a grocery store and manufactured tofu and mochi on Terminal Island, leasing land from the City of Los Angeles. He was also a contributor to local Japanese American community organizations, serving as a board member and committee member and making donations to them.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was arrested by the FBI but released shortly after. Although he was able to manage the family’s moving to Bakersfield, fleeing from the mass removal from Terminal Island, they were later incarcerated in the Poston camp in Arizona. During his incarceration, he established a tofu manufacturing plant in the Poston camp, and became a gardener after returning from the incarceration camp to Los Angeles, California.
6 boxes (4 document boxes and 2 short top boxes including 2 disks (1 CD and DVD))
2.83 Linear Feet (6 boxes and 206 MB (37 digital files))
- Series I: Tomoji Wada business materials, 1918-1955
- Series II: Incarceration camp, 1941-1945
- Series III: Correspondence, 1918-1977
- Series IV: Photographs, 1925-2006
- Series V: Scrapbooks, undated
- Series VI: Biographical information, 1918-2010
- Series VII: Books for gardening, 1903, 1944, 1948, 1955, 1958
- Series VIII: Taiji whaling; Terminal Island; Wakayama, 1932-2016
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Existence and Location of Originals
Availability of Digital Reproductions
Filenames of 37 image files transferred from the donor were renamed reflecting their physical carriers’ locations (box and folder numbers of CD and DVD). The transferred JPEG files were normalized to a TIFF format for preservation purposes.
The Gerth Archives and Special Collections also derived digitized materials from original items for long-term preservation and access, adhering to best practice and standards to ensure the authenticity, integrity, and security of material. A JPEG200 format was generated from a TIFF format for access derivatives by CONTENTdm. Text files were normalized to a PDF format; redaction was applied to protect personal identifiable information; and large files were compressed for greater efficiency online. For more information on digitization production, please see CSU Japanese American Digitization Project technical reference guide.
All digital objects are available at CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site: Tomoji Wada Family Papers Digital Collection
English translation, synopses, and brief descriptions for Japanese language materials are provided by the finding aid author and also available at CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site.
- Inventory of the Tomoji Wada Family Papers
- Yoko Okunishi
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- English; Japanese