Atsushi Art Ishida Collection
Scope and Contents
The Atsushi Art Ishida Collection is comprised of photographs, negatives, camp newspapers, WRA documents, memorabilia, and correspondence chronicling his time immediately after the exclusion order and during his incarceration in the Santa Anita Assembly Center in California, the Jerome camp in Arkansas, the Tule Lake camp in California, and the Minidoka camp in Idaho, as well as digital reproductions of photographs documenting his life in Japan and Artesia during the pre-war years and his time during the Korean War.
During World War II, he ordered a camera from a Sears catalog while he was incarcerated in the Jerome camp. As a matter of fact, a camera was one of the items which were strictly prohibited in incarceration camps especially in the West coast. Nonetheless, the majority of the photographs in the collection were taken by him and he would often develop them in his room in the barracks where he had constructed a makeshift dark room. His photographs depict life in the incarceration camps, capturing the buildings such as barracks, guard towers, a hospital, fire station, and warehouse; the workers for farming, laundry, mess hall, and logging; and the sports games that the incarcerees played. Also photographed are the farewell scenes which show the incarcerees who were being transferred from the Jerome camp to the Tule Lake Segregation Center.
- circa 1930-1959; 1995
- Ishida, Atsushi Art, 1921- (Person)
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.
By donor request, his journals and narratives written in Japanese are excluded from CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site: Atsushi Art Ishida Digital Collection.
Biographical / Historical
Atsushi Art Ishida (1921 June 2-) is a Kibei Nisei who is a U.S citizen and was educated in Japan prior to World War II. His family history in America began with immigration of his grandfather, Tamakichi Ishida, around late 1800. Tamakichi and his first son, Umeo (Atsushi’s uncle), were Issei immigrants from Hiroshima, Japan and arrived in Hawaii as contract laborers. After a few years of the plantation labor contract, Tamakichi came back to Japan while Umeo moved to the mainland and settled in Fresno, California. Atsushi’s father, Matsuo Ishida, left Hiroshima to join his brother, Umeo. Due to the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 between the U.S and Japan, Japanese immigration and emigration were restricted, but Matsuo managed to board a ship leaving Japan for South America, jumped into the ocean at Ensenada, Mexico, swam to the shore, and walked across the border to reunite his brother in Fresno. Later, Matsuo became a naturalized U.S. citizen, brought his wife, Saku, from Japan, and owned a farm in Compton, California. Atsushi was born to Matsuo and Saku as the oldest child among their four children in Fresno. Atsushi’s younger brother, Takashi, was also born in Fresno, and his younger sisters, Masaye and Ruby, were born in Compton, and all grew up in Southern California. When Atsushi’s uncle, Umeo, decided to retire and return to Japan, Umeo took Atsushi and Takashi to Japan for education in 1929, and the rest of the family members also returned to Japan in 1935 due to Matsuo’s illness; and he passed away in Japan a year later. Atsushi and his brother attended school in Hiroshima, Japan but decided to return to California together in 1937 by a steamship, Asama Maru, while his mother and sisters remained in Japan. He and his brother joined their family friend, Mr. Hamamoto, who had been farming in Artesia, California and looked after them. Atsushi attended a high school and helped Mr. Hamamoto by farming together in Artesia until the war interrupted his life.
Following the attack on the Pearl Harbor, Executive Order 9066 was issued by the President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942. Atsushi received the notice of the exclusion order and had to leave within three days, and was imprisoned in several camps during the war. On April 5, 1942, he was sent to the Santa Anita Assembly Center in California. He recollects the day of the forced removal and incarceration: His baggage was inspected by the Army personnel, and he was provided with meal tickets and assigned to a “room” which had been a horse stall and manure still remained on the wall and asphalt floor. On October 13, 1942, he was transferred from the Santa Anita Assembly Center to the Jerome incarceration camp in Arkansas. The trip took three days by train without any stops. He remembers that the camp was in the middle of swamp forests and surrounded with the barbed-wire fence and armed guard towers. Answering "no" and “yes” to questions 27 and 28 of the form that is known as the "loyalty questionnaire," he was interrogated. During the interviews, he was not able to express his thoughts in English well and appeared suspicious to the interrogators. The interviews concluded that he was dangerous and to be transferred to the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California in May 1944 as one of the incarcerees who were renouncing their U.S. citizenship. During his time in the Tule Lake camp, he was interrogated again but answered that he never wished to return to Japan or renounce his U.S. citizenship but wanted to leave the camp. His answer surprised the interrogators but they decided to release him from the Tule Lake camp. In February 1945, he voluntarily moved into the Minidoka incarceration camp in Idaho from the Tule Lake camp and stayed with his friends briefly before being released from the camp. He moved to Chicago, Illinois in March 1945 to join his brother who had been settled there. He started reestablishing his life, working for a furniture manufacturer company, and resided there until he was drafted for the Korean War in September 1946.
While he was deployed in Korea, he took a leave from service and visited his mother, sisters, and relatives in Hiroshima, Japan and witnessed aftermath of the atomic bombing and devastation. During the visit, he met his future wife, Mamie Yoshiko Sakamoto, who was also a Kibei Nisei but had been stranded in Japan through World War II. They married in Japan on November 14, 1947, and he was discharged in March 1948 but came back to the U.S. alone, and she followed after she managed to get a permit. They resided in Chicago, farming for a while, and moved to Norwalk, California in 1949 to join his friend to farm together. Their farming was not successful and he decided to move to Gardena, California for a gardening job. Prior to moving to Gardena, however, he was recalled by the U.S. Army again and stationed in Tokyo, Japan, serving as the MIS reserves until September 1951. After being discharged the second time, he returned to California, establishing himself in life as a gardener, moved to Gardena with his wife in April 1957. His career continued to be a landscaper, studied landscaping, obtained certification, and opened his private landscaping business in 1960s. He was a member of the Gardener’s Association and retired in 1986. He likes golf, cards, trip to Las Vegas, photography, and guitar. He continued to play on the golf course until the COVID-19 hit in 2020. Atsushi and Yoshiko have resided in Gardena since 1957 and remained married for 71 years. They have two daughters, Lynn and Vicki, and Yoshiko passed away in November 2019. As of 2020 Atsushi continues to live in Gardena at the age of 99.
5 boxes (1 document box, 2 box albums, and 2 photo boxes)
2.59 Linear Feet ((5 boxes) )
7.37 Megabytes ((178 JPEG files) )
Language of Materials
The Atsushi Art Ishida Collection is comprised of about 900 photographs (prints, negatives, and digital reproductions) and other materials chronicling his time immediately after/during his incarceration in the Santa Anita Assembly Center in California, the Jerome incarceration camp in Arkansas, the Tule Lake Segregation Center in California, and the Minidoka incarceration camp in Idaho, and also depicting his time in pre-war Japan and during the Korean War. Most of the items in this collection have been digitized and are available online.
Arranged in three series:
- Wartime material
- Magazines, clipping, and excerpt
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
The access derivatives (access files) created from the digital reproductions of the loaned items, "Family photo album" and "Korean War photo album," are 7.37 MB (178 JPEG files) and stored on the Public Use Drive. Access to the files is available on-site in the Gerth Archives and Special Collections reading room. Please request copies at the Reference Desk.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
In 2017, Atsushi Art Ishida donated three albums along with negatives to the Gerth Archives and Special Collections. The albums contain photographs, documents, and memorabilia collected during World War II. In 2019, he brought additional two photo albums, "Family photo album" and "Korean War photo album," and loaned them to be digitized. The digital reproductions of the photo albums were then donated.
Existence and Location of Originals
Digital reproductions of two photo albums, "Family Photo Album" and "Korean War Photo Album," were donated to the Gerth Archives and Special Collections; the physical materials (physical carriers) remain with the donor.
Availability of Digital Reproductions
Most of the items in this collection have been digitized and digital reproduction access derivatives (access files) are available at the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site: Atsushi Art Ishida Digital Collection
English translation, synopses, and brief descriptions for Japanese language materials (except for journals and narratives) are available at CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site.
Physical material was processed by Stella Castillo in 2017.
Additional materials and digitization were processed and English translation, synopses, and brief descriptions for Japanese language materials were provided by Yoko Okunishi.
The Gerth Archives and Special Collections created digital reproductions from original items for long-term preservation and electronic access, adhering to best practice and standards to ensure the authenticity, integrity, and security of material. For more information on digitization process, please see CSU Japanese American Digitization Project technical reference guide.
Most of the items in this collection have been digitized. The set of digital reproduction preservation files is stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections’ department drive for both preservation purposes and duplication requests.
The two albums, "Family Photo Album" and "Korean War Photo Album," are donation of the digital reproductions. The access files for those digital reproductions are 7.37 MB (178 JPEG files) and stored on the Public Use Drive.
The set of access files was created for the digital management system and is stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections' department external drive for staff use.
- Ishida, Atsushi Art, 1921- -- Archives
- Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1944-1945 -- Archives
- Jerome Incarceration Camp
- Korean War, 1950-1953
- Military Intelligence Service Language School (U.S.)
- Minidoka Incarceration Camp
- Santa Anita Assembly Center (Calif.)
- Tule Lake Segregation Center
- Inventory of the Collection of Atsushi Art Ishida
- Yoko Okunishi
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- English; Japanese