Biographical Note

Scope and Content

Digital Content/Other Formats

General Notes

Restrictions on Access

Restrictions on Use

Acquisition Info

Inventory   [ + ]

Subject Terms


Guide to the James Y. Sakamoto Papers
1928-1955



Accession No.: 1609-001
Creator: Sakamoto, James Y., 1903-1955 , creator
Title: James Y. Sakamoto Papers
Date Span: 1928-1955
Quantity: 8.45 cubic ft. (23 boxes)
Languages: Collection materials are in English.
Minidoka Relocation Center, 1942. Photo: Francis Stewart. Special Collections, UW Libraries, UW21141z

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.



Biographical Note

1903
Born, Seattle
1920
Graduated, Franklin High School
1921
Helped to found Seattle Progressive Citizens' League
1921
Blinded while prize fighting
1928
Founded and began publishing Japanese-American Courier (newspaper). Ceased publication in 1942.
1930
Helped to found Japanese American Citizens' League
1936-1938
Served as president of JACL
1942
Incarcerated at Puyallup Assembly Center
1942-1945
Incarcerated at Minidoka
July 1945
Returned to Seattle
1946-55
Worked for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul
1955
Died

James ("Jimmie") Sakamoto was a prominent Nisei community leader, activist, and newspaper publisher renowned for his ardent American patriotism. He was born in Seattle in 1903 to Japanese immigrant parents who arrived in the Northwest in 1894. He graduated from Franklin High School in 1920. A year later, he helped to found the Seattle Progressive Citizens' League to oppose the city's anti-alien land law and various other proposed pieces of anti-Japanese legislation. In 1923, Sakamoto moved to the East Coast where he became a professional welterweight (often known as "featherweight") prize fighter. During this time he also worked as English editor of the New York City Japanese American Daily News and took classes at Princeton. In 1927, as a result of injuries suffered in the ring, he went blind and returned to Seattle shortly thereafter.

In 1928, Sakamoto established and became publisher of Seattle's English language newspaper, the Japanese-American Courier, which quickly boasted circulation figures over 10,000. In 1930, he helped to form the Japanese American Citizens' League (JACL) and from 1936-1938 served as the organization's second national president.

The advent of the War in the Pacific led to one of the most influential periods in Sakamoto's life -- the approximately four months he spent as "Chief Supervisor" at the Camp Harmony assembly center in Puyallup. There Sakamoto offered critical support and leadership for his fellow Japanese Americans and was, simultaneously, a trusted functionary of Army officials.

But World War II also brought the end to one of Sakamoto's longest-running professional accomplishments, the Japanese-American Courier newspaper, and compelled him to put aside his vigorous activist work for the JACL. Moreover, he, his wife Misao, their two young daughters, and his wife's parents were forced to leave their home -- along with nearly 13,000 other Washington State residents of Japanese descent -- and were incarcerated for three years at the Minidoka Relocation Center in southern Idaho. At Minidoka, Sakamoto's leadership efforts were not encouraged in the way they had been at Camp Harmony. Although he continued to mediate on behalf of his fellow Nisei -- such as writing letters to political figures (including President Franklin D. Roosevelt) and arbitrating disputes -- he served in no official political capacity.

Upon his release from Minidoka in July 1945, Sakamoto returned to Seattle with his wife and family. In 1946, he began working for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and remained there, as head of the Pick-up and Telephone Solicitation Department, until his untimely death in 1955 after being hit by a car while walking to work.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of Sakamoto's personal papers and two subgroups, the Japanese American Citizens' League (JACL) and the Japanese-American Courier. The personal papers include material on the evacuation and relocation of the West Coast Japanese, and on the Japanese community in general. The bulk of the materials on subjects such as the evacuation, Camp Harmony, and the Minidoka Relocation Center are located in subject series of the same names; however, researchers should be aware that other sections in the accession -- especially Incoming and Outgoing Letters, General Correspondence, Case Files, re: Internees, Speeches and Writings, and Legislation -- also contain significant amounts of material on such matters.

The JACL subgroup ranges from approximately 1930 to 1954 and consists primarily of correspondence and minutes concerning the development of the organization, its role in supporting legislation regarding immigration and citizenship, and its stand during the relocation and evacuation. The Courier subgroup mainly concerns the business aspects of the newspaper, but it also includes correspondence pertaining to the newspaper's activities in the Japanese community of the Seattle area, such as its sports leagues, Public Service Bureau, and cooking school.

Digital Content/Other Formats

A microfilmed copy of the papers is available in Special Collections and may be borrowed through Interlibrary Borrowing.

View selections from this collection in digital format.

General Notes

The Microforms and Newspapers Center in Suzzallo Library owns a complete collection of the Japanese-American Courier which may be easier to read than the single copies found in this accession in Special Collections. This microfilm may be borrowed through Interlibrary Borrowing.

Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use

The literary rights of these papers have been retained. Thus, users who wish to quote Sakamoto's writings must contact the Sakamoto family for permission. In addition, users who wish to quote Sakamoto's correspondents must search for their heirs and contact them directly for permission.

Acquisition Info

Sakamoto's widow, Misao Sakamoto, donated and personally organized this 8.45 cubic foot accession in 1971.


Inventory

  
Box/FolderDate
Personal Papers
1/1-1/4Biographical Material
Incoming Letters
1/5Allison, J.C.1942-1944
1/6American Friends Service Committee1941-1943
1/7Arai, Yone1932
1/8A Misc.1931-1944
1/9Benedicta, Sister Mary1943-1944
1/10Bone, Homer T.1942
1/11Bonus, Albert1944
1/12B Misc.1935-1951
1/13Claypool, Anna1946-1953
1/14C Misc.1941-1954
1/15Dickstein, Samuel1942
1/16D - E Misc.1932-1949
1/17F Misc.1932-1944
1/18G Misc.1931-1932
1/19Hirai, James1931
1/20Holden, Ashley1931, 1937
General Notes: See also: Japan Society
1/21H Misc.1931-1951
1/22Iseri, Tom1934-1944
1/23Isenaga, Katie1930-1944
1/24I Misc.1931-1939
1/25Japan Society1929-1933
General Notes: See also: Holden, A.E.
1/26Japanese Canadian Citizens' League1935-1938
1/27Japanese Students' Christian Association in N.A. 1937-1941
1/28Johnson, Hiram W.1942
1/29Johnson, Marie1931-1944
1/30J Misc.1931-1942
1/31Kanazawa, Tooru (Joe)1932-1944
1/32Kasagi, Y. Key1931-1932
1/33-1/36Kido, Saburo1931-1944
1/37K Misc.1930-1944
2/1Langlie, Arthur B.1941
2/2La Violette, Forrest1937-1941
2/3L Misc.1934-1950
2/4Magnuson, Warren G.1942
2/5Matsuda, Chiyoko1939-1940
2/6Muneno, Saiki1933-1941
2/7-2/9Murayama, Tamotsu1932-1950
2/10M Misc.1931-1950
2/11Nakamura, Kaju1931-1938
2/12Niguma, Maskao1931
2/13Niguma, Yoneko1931-1932
2/14Nishimura, George K.1941-1943
2/15Nishimura, Roy1933-1937
2/16Nye, Gerald P.1942
2/17N Misc.1929-1954
2/18Okada, Hito1935-1938
2/19Okuzaki, George1931-1932
2/20O Misc.1932-1954
2/21Powell, Mildred T.1937-1950
2/22Priestley, William1944
2/23P Misc.1931-1950
2/24Rademaker, John1940-1942
2/25R Misc.1943-1950
2/26Sakimura, Mary1931-1941
2/27Sakuravchi, Tokuya1931-1941
2/28Schwellenbach, Lewis B.1938
2/29Seattle. Public Schools1934-1944
2/30Shibata, Welly1931-1941
2/31Shinoda, Michio1942-1944
2/32Slocum, Tokutaro Nishimura1931-1941
2/33Suzuki, Arthur & Setsu1942-1944
2/34-2/37S Misc.1929-1951
2/38Takagi, Tom1939-1950
2/39Thomas, Elbert D.1942
2/40Tibesar, L.H.1941-1954
2/41-2/41Togasaki, Susumu (Sim)1932-1952
2/43Tsukamoto, Walter1933-1941
2/44T Misc.1931-1944
3/1-3/2U.S. War Relocation Authority1942-1943
3/3U.S. Misc.1935-1944
3/4Uno, Chickn.d.
3/5Uno, Buddyca.1933
3/6U Misc.1931-1944
3/7Wallgren, Monrad C.1942
3/8Watanabe, Marthan.d.
3/9Wheeler, Burton K.1942
3/10W Misc.1942-1955
3/11Yatabe, Tom T.1932-1943
3/12Y Misc.1931-1943
3/13Unidentified1931-1944
3/14-3/73, 4/1-4/63Outgoing Letters1928-1951
General Correspondence
4/64A-E Misc.1935-1941
4/65Fletcher, Ed1937
4/66F-G Misc.1942-1943
4/67H Misc.1935-1942
4/68I Misc.1927-1944
4/69J Misc.1931-1950
5/1K-L Misc.1933-1944
5/2Martin, Clarence1940
5/3Mitchell, Hugh1949
5/4M Misc.1937-1944
5/5N Misc.1937-1941
5/6O Misc.1937-1942
5/7R Misc.1944, 1950
5/8S Misc.1938, 1943
5/9T Misc.1933-1950
5/10U.S. Misc.1942-1944
5/11U-X Misc.1933-1951
5/12Y Misc.1937-1940
Correspondence: Case Files
5/13Hara, Seiichi - Re: Internment1942-1944
5/14Harada, Sueki - Re: Immigration1933
5/15Hasegawa, Hideto - Re: Internment1942
5/16Kihara, Ichimatsu - Re: Internment1942-1944
5/17Matsura, ? - Re: Immigration1950
5/18Muriyama, Ethel - Re: Citizenship1955
5/19Togasaki, Yoshiko - Re: Immigration1938
5/20Utsunomiya, Fumihisa - Re: Citizenship1950
5/21Misc. - Re: Internment1942-1944
Speeches and Writings
6/1-6/2By James Sakamoto
6/3By others
6/4-6/11Legislation1935-1940
6/12-6/20, 7/1-7/5Clippings
7/6-7/12Newsletters
7/13-7/24Newspapers
7/25Memorabilia
7/26Photographs
8, 9/1-9/5Ephemera
9/6-9/7Miscellany
Subject Series
Evacuation
10/1Bibliography
10/2-10/6JACL BulletinsDec.1941-June 1942
10/7Reports
10/8Speeches and Writings
10/9-10/11Proclamations and Regulations
10/12Problems & Questions - Re: Evacuation
Camp Harmony
10/13Organization - Re: Community Government
10/14-10/18Incoming Letters1942
10/19Outgoing Letters1942
10/20General Correspondence1942
10/21Reports
10/22Speeches & Writings1942
10/23Camp Regulations
10/24Newsletter
10/25Miscellany
Minidoka Relocation Center
10/26Organization - Re: Community Government
10/27-10/28Incoming Letters1942-1944
10/29Outgoing Letters1942-1943
10/30General Correspondence1942-1944
10/31Reports
10/32Speeches & Writings
10/33Camp Regulations
10/34-10/36Bulletins & Newsletters
10/37Newspaper
10/38Ephemera

  
Box/FolderDate
Japanese American Citizens' League
11/1-11/8History and Constitution
11/9-11/38, 12Correspondence
General Notes: Ccorrespondence for the JACL has been filed by chapter.
13/1-13/17Minutes
13/18-13/20Financial Records
13/21Legal Documents
13/22Speeches & Writings
13/23Press Releases
13/24Resolutions
13/25-13/28Legislation
14/1-14/8Conference Reports & Agenda
14/9Membership Fiats
14/10Ephemera
14/11Miscellany
Subject Series
15/1-15/28Emergency Defense Council
15/29-15/41 Pacific Citizen (newspaper)

  
Box/FolderDate
Japanese American Courier
16/1-16/4History & Organization
16/5-16/58, 17, 18/1-18/7Incoming Letters
18/1-18/107Outgoing Letters
19, 20/1-20/4General Correspondence
20/5-20/22Financial Records
20/23Legal Documents
20/24-20/29Speeches & Writings
20/30Press Releases
21/1-21/10Name Lists
21/11Newspapers -Courier Copies
21/12-21/16Miscellany
Subject Series
21/17-21/27Courier Cooking School
Box
22 & 23Duplicate Material

Subject Terms

Personal Names:
Sakamoto, James Y., 1903-1955--Archives.
Organizations:
Japanese American Citizens' League.
Minidoka Relocation Center.
Puyallup Assembly Center (Puyallup, Wash.)
Subjects:
Concentration camp inmates--Idaho--Hunt.
Concentration camp inmates--Washington (State)--Puyallup.
Concentration camps--Idaho--Hunt.
Concentration camps--Washington (State)--Puyallup.
Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945--Newspapers.
Japanese Americans--Washington (State)
World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Idaho--Hunt.
World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Washington (State)--Puyallup.
World War, 1939-1945--Japanese Americans.
Genre Headings:
Photographs.
Titles:
Japanese-American Courier.
Last modified: November 14, 2013
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