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Tomoji Wada Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SPC-2019-029

Content Description

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.

Dates

  • 1903-2016; undated

Creator

Language of Materials

In English and Japanese. English translation, synopses, and brief descriptions for Japanese language materials are available at CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site.

Condition Description

Donation of digital surrogates. The decision of the donation of the physical items will be made at a later time.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Gerth Archives and Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

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.

Extent

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))

Overview

This collection contains materials regarding Tomoji Wada’s business on Terminal Island, California, immigration materials, and incarceration camp records pertaining to Tomoji Wada and his family. Included are taxes, receipts of expenses, and ledgers, receipts for his donations to Japanese American organizations, photographs, journals, notebooks, books, a metal seal stamp for Terminal Island Credit Union, immigration documents of Tomoji and Kan Wada, WRA documents, and wood carving tools and plaques created in the camp. Materials include image files created and transferred from the donor as well as digitized materials produced by the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. Selected digitized items in this collection are available online.

Arrangement

Arranged in eight series:
  1. Series I: Tomoji Wada business materials, 1918-1955
  2. Series II: Incarceration camp, 1941-1945
  3. Series III: Correspondence, 1918-1977
  4. Series IV: Photographs, 1925-2006
  5. Series V: Scrapbooks, undated
  6. Series VI: Biographical information, 1918-2010
  7. Series VII: Books for gardening, 1903, 1944, 1948, 1955, 1958
  8. Series VIII: Taiji whaling; Terminal Island; Wakayama, 1932-2016

Immediate Source of Acquisition

In 2017, Marion Wada agreed to loan the collection for digitization and donate digital surrogates to the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. The decision on whether the original items are donated or retained in the donor's location will be made at a later time. The collection also contains digital files on two disks (1 CD and DVD), which were disk imaged on August 14, 2019 to create master preservation copies and to extract the content files.

Existence and Location of Originals

Physical materials of the collection have been stored in the Gerth Archives and Special Collections.

Availability of Digital Reproductions

The selected items from this collection have been digitized and digital reproduction access files are available at the CSU Japanese American Project site: Tomoji Wada Family Papers Digital Collection

CSU Japanese American Digitization Project

This collection is part of the California State University Japanese American Digitization Project. Other collections about the history of Japanese Americans are found in the digital repository: CSU Japanese American Digitization Project technical reference guide.

Translation

English translation, summaries, and synopsis are available at the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site: Tomoji Wada Family Papers Digital Collection

Condition Description

Donation of digital surrogates. The decision of the donation of the physical items will be made at a later time.

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.

Processing Information

The collection was processed and English translation was provided by Yoko Okunishi.

Creator

Source

Title
Inventory of the Tomoji Wada Family Papers
Status
Completed
Author
Yoko Okunishi
Date
2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
English; Japanese

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
University Library South -5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747
310-243-3895