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Japanese American Oral History Project

  • Japanese American Oral History Project
  • Collection
  • 1992-1998

A series of oral history interviews conducted between 1992 and 1998 with Japanese Americans in Oregon. Loen Dozono of the Japanese American Citizen's League (JACL) collaborated with OHS on this project. The interviews were conducted by JACL and OHS staff and volunteers. They aimed to interview Issei (first generation Japanese Americans), and ultimately also interviewed several Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans).

Oral history interview with John Y. Murakami

This oral history interview with John Y. Murakami was conducted by George Katagiri from July 13-20, 1992, at Murakami's home in Portland, Oregon. The interview was recorded as part of the Japanese American Oral History Project, which was conducted by the Oregon Historical Society to preserve the stories of Japanese Americans in Oregon. This interview was conducted in three sessions.

In the first interview session, conducted on July 13, 1992, Murakami discusses his family background and early life on a farm in Sherwood, Oregon, and in Portland, Oregon. He talks about the grocery store that his father, Shuichi Sam Murakami, owned; his experience during the Depression; and his education. He discusses jobs he worked after dropping out of high school and talks about playing in the Nisei Baseball League.

In the second interview session, conducted on July 14, 1992, Murakami continues discussing his experiences in the Nisei Baseball League, as well as his interest in other sports. He also talks about his social life as a teenager. He speaks about a few instances of prejudice that he experienced. He discusses his experience in the U.S. Army, serving in the European Theater during World War II. He also talks about the U.S. government's incarceration of his family at the Minidoka War Relocation Center, and about his marriage to Sumi Matsushita. He then discusses his life in Portland after his discharge from the Army in 1945, including working in construction and teaching building construction at Benson Polytechnic High School.

In the third and final interview session, conducted on July 20, 1992, Murakami talks about his children, their education, their families, and their careers. He then talks about his retirement activities, particularly his involvement in Japanese American community organizations. He also revisits the topic of his Army experience during World War II. He shares his opinion about the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted redress to Japanese Americans whom the government incarcerated during the war. He closes the interview by reflecting upon his life and accomplishments.

Murakami, John Y. (John Yoneo), 1919-2005

Oral history interview with George Iwasaki

This oral history interview with George Iwasaki was conducted by Etsu Osaki at the Oregon Buddhist Church in Portland, Oregon, from August 19 to September 16, 1992. The interview was recorded as part of the Japanese American Oral History Project, which was conducted by the Oregon Historical Society to preserve the stories of Japanese Americans in Oregon. The interview was conducted in two sessions.

In the first interview session, conducted on August 19, 1992, Iwasaki discusses his family background and early life on a farm in Hillsboro, Oregon. He talks about the Japanese-American community in Oregon and about his education. He then discusses working on the family farm during the Depression, his marriage to Tomiko Natsuhara, and the lead-up to the U.S. government's incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, including making arrangements for the family farmland. He talks about his family's experiences while they were detained at the Portland Assembly Center and about accepting the option to work as fieldworkers in Nyssa, Oregon, including living conditions in the agricultural camp run by the Farm Security Administration. He then discusses returning to Hillsboro after the family's release in 1945.

In the second and final interview session, conducted on September 16, 1992, Iwasaki continues discussing the family's return to Hillsboro after their release in 1945, and describes how the family recovered their farmland and restarted their business. He talks about the evolution of the family farming business, now known as Iwasaki Bros., to focus on bedding plants. He also speaks about his involvement in Japanese American community organizations, including the Oregon Buddhist Church. He closes the interview by talking about his children, their families, and their careers.

Iwasaki, George, 1912-2009

Oral history interview with Tatsuro Yada

This oral history interview with Tatsuro Yada was conducted by Taka Mizote on March 8, 1992. The interview was recorded as part of the Japanese American Oral History Project, which was conducted by the Oregon Historical Society to preserve the stories of Japanese Americans in Oregon.

In this interview, Yada discusses his family background and early life on a farm in Salem, Oregon. He talks about the Japanese community in Salem, his education, and attending Japanese school. He speaks about returning home to take over the family farm after graduating from Willamette University. He discusses his involvement in the Civil Defense Corps before the United States joined World War II; talks about his reaction to the attack on Pearl Harbor; and describes the Japanese-owned businesses in the Salem area. He talks about his incarceration at Tule Lake Relocation Center during World War II. He describes living conditions in the camp, his role as a teacher, and the military service of his siblings. He talks about getting out of the camp less than a year later to work at a hotel in Nebraska, while his parents were incarcerated at the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho. He then talks about returning to the family farm after the government ended incarceration of Japanese Americans in 1945. He discusses his marriage to Masako Onishi, his Christian faith, and the Japanese American community in post-war Salem. He talks about his children, their families, and their careers. He discusses his retirement activities, including farming, as well as his hopes for the future. He closes the interview by discussing serving on the Salem-Keizer School Board.

Yada, Tatsuro, 1916-2003

Oral history interview with Nadyne Yoneko Dozono

This oral history interview with Nadyne Yoneko Dozono was conducted by Clark Hansen at Dozono's home in Portland, Oregon, from January 23 to February 5, 1998. The interview was recorded as part of the Japanese American Oral History Project, which was conducted by the Oregon Historical Society to preserve the stories of Japanese Americans in Oregon. The interview was conducted in seven sessions.

In the first interview session, conducted on January 23, 1998, Dozono discusses her family background, including her parents' experiences immigrating to the United States in the early 20th century. She talks about Japanese culture, including flower arranging, marriage and wedding practices, and Japanese social structure. She speaks about her early life in Portland, Oregon, including the Portland Japantown, the neighborhoods and houses she lived in, and her home and family life. She also talks about the Japanese food that her mother cooked and sold. She closes the session by discussing her social life and her education.

In the second interview session, conducted on January 26, 1998, Dozono continues discussing her early life in Portland, Oregon, including her social life, her education, and her siblings. She talks about her poor health in her youth, celebrating both Japanese and American holidays, and picking berries in the summers. She then speaks about being sent to Japan at age 16 for a Japanese education. She talks about her journey to Japan by ship in 1931, the family members she met and lived with in Japan, and learning the Japanese language and customs. She closes the session by discussing her experiences adjusting to life in Japan and describing the house she lived in.

In the third interview session, conducted on January 29, 1998, Dozono continues discussing the family members she met and lived with in Japan, and her experiences adjusting to life there. She describes the house she lived in, her daily life, and learning Japanese customs. She talks about sewing traditional Japanese clothing, performing the Japanese tea ceremony, and the nuances of the Japanese language. She also describes the town she lived in, Seki Machi in Gifu prefecture, as well as Tokyo. She talks about Japanese festivals, plays, and holidays. She speaks at length about her arranged marriage to Asazo Dozono in 1934. She talks about Asazo Dozono's career and about raising children, including her first child's death at age 1 during an epidemic. She closes the session by describing life in Japan during World War II and explains that she was not well-informed about world events at the time.

In the fourth interview session, conducted on January 30, 1998, Dozono continues describing life in Japan during World War II. She also revisits the topic of her first child's death during an epidemic. She talks about rationing and shortages, as well as being uninformed about U.S. government's incarceration of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps. She describes the information the Japanese government gave the citizenry about the war's progress, the reaction of the people to Japan's surrender, and the bombing of Okayama City, as well as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She talks about the aftermath of the war, including her husband losing his job due to his loyalty to the Japanese government, the American occupation, and revealing herself as an American citizen. She discusses her work as an interpreter for the American military; talks about the difficulty of explaining democracy to Japanese citizens; and shares stories about cultural misunderstandings between American troops and the Japanese population. She also talks about the changes that the U.S. made to Japan. She then discusses her work with the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission as an interpreter in Hiroshima; describes the effects of radiation sickness that she witnessed; and shares her opinion that the bombings were unnecessary. She closes the session by sharing a story about acting as an interpreter for Jean MacArthur, the spouse of U.S. General Douglas MacArthur.

In the fifth interview session, conducted on February 2, 1998, Dozono discusses returning to Oregon with her daughter in 1953, then bringing her husband and sons later, and reconnecting with her siblings. She talks about readjusting to life in the U.S., working for the Japanese Ancestral Society, and her shock at realizing that racism was still a problem in the U.S. She also talks about her family's experiences during and after their incarceration by the U.S. government during World War II. She closes the session by discussing how her husband and children adjusted to life in the U.S.; her continued work as an interpreter; and her involvement in various community organizations particularly the Japanese Ancestral Society and the Veleda Nisei Women's Club.

In the sixth interview session, conducted on February 4, 1998, Dozono discusses the Japanese-American community in the Pacific Northwest, the community's reaction to incarceration by the U.S. government, and the movement for reparations. She talks more about her involvement in community organizations, particularly the Japanese Ancestral Society and the Veleda Nisei Women's Club. She also talks about gender roles in Japanese culture and how they have changed over the 20th century. She discusses her work speaking in schools about Japanese culture and the U.S. government's incarceration of Japanese Americans. She talks about Japanese-American organizations, including the Oregon Nikkei Endowment, as well as the Japanese-American community. She also discusses several trips she took back to Japan. She closes the session by talking about her children, their families, and their careers.

In the seventh and final interview session, conducted on February 5, 1998, Dozono continues discussing her children, their families, and their careers, while looking at photographs. She then talks about some of her American friends, including Maurine Neuberger; describes her involvement in various community organizations, particularly Ikoi no Kai; and closes the interview by discussing her hopes for the future.

Dozono, Nadyne Yoneko, 1915-2013

Portland Neighborhood History Project

  • Mss 2577-SR
  • Collection
  • 1976-1979

The Portland Neighborhood History Project was one of the first extensive oral history projects in Oregon. In the late 1970s, the Parks Department recruited volunteers to interview elders in their own neighborhoods in order to gather first hand accounts of the history and development of the various neighborhoods in Portland. The interviews were later donated to the Oregon Historical Society.

Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest Oral Histories

  • Mss 2988-SR
  • Collection
  • 2000 - 2013

The Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest (GLAPN) was established in Portland, Oregon, by Tom Cook in the early 1990s. Since then the organization has collected archival materials and oral histories from organizations and individuals active in lesbian and gay issues in the Portland area and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Many of these oral histories were gathered by Portland State University students, from the late 90s to present.

Oral history interview with Ellen Goldberg, by Annica Eagle and Spencer Trueax

Ellen Goldberg is a lesbian activist who was one of the co-founders of the Mountain Moving Café, a collectively run restaurant that was created to engender networking, collaboration, and particularly political organizing. The café, with its large dance floor and performance stage, featured different entertainment every night of the month and was well-known for it's Wednesday Women's Nights (on these evenings, men were turned away). An earlier interview with Goldberg, addressing the café and radical political organizing, was conducted in 1978 (SR6314).

Goldberg, Ellen

Oral history interview with Sally Cohn, by Jade Davis and Erin Babcock Musick

Sally Cohn is a lesbian activist who has been involved with many organizations in Portland, Oregon since the 1970s. She discusses several topics including her involvement with the Lesbian Community Project, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, lesbian stereotypes, women’s softball, and what it was like to fight anti-gay ballot measures. She also talks about her appearance on national television doing her “hand whistling.”

Cohn, Sally H.

Oral history interview with Cindy Cumfer, by Erik Funkhouser and Tim Aguirre

Cindy Cumfer discusses her involvement with the lesbian and women's communities in Portland, Oregon; her work as a civil rights attorney, particularly in the area of lesbian adoption; the AIDS epidemic and how it bridge the divide between the gay and lesbian communities; and her involvement with the Unitarian Universalist Church.

Cumfer, Cynthia

Oral history interview with Kimberlee Van Patten, by Katie Horton and Amy Sherwood

Katie Horton and Amy Sherwood, PSU students, interviewed Kimberlee Van Patten on February 12th 2009. Kimberlee Van Patten has been involved with the Imperial Sovereign Rose Court and Peacock in the Park for several years. During the interview we discussed her life in general, from her childhood to the present, as well as her involvement with both the Court and Peacock in the Park. Kimberlee told us a little about Lady Elaine Peacock and the Audria M. Edwards Scholarship Fund and also about many of the members of the Rose Court. We discussed other new projects she is working on and her favorite memories and some sad moments from the projects that she has worked on in the past.

Van Patten, Kimberlee

Oral history interview with Charles F. Hinkle, by Michael Lamore and Michelle Brown

This is the first interview with Charles Hinkle. The second interview will be during Spring term 2009.
This interview was taken for the Gay and Lesbian Pacific Northwest Archive and conducted by, Michael Lamore and Michelle Brown, who are Portland State University students working with the LGBTQ capstone class. They interviewed Charles F. Hinkle who has been an ACLU lawyer in Portland for over 30 years. Hinkle was involved in the Black civil rights movement in the 60’s while working on his degree and took Oregon’s first gay rights case of a teacher being fired for her sexual orientation, Peggy Burton, in 1972. Hinkle has been involved in gay civil rights cases ever since. He has been known as a strong ally and advocate to the gay community for many years. His involvement in gay rights in Oregon has a large legacy, but due to time constraints this interview covered his involvement from 1972-1988.

Hinkle, Charles F.

Oral history interview with George Oberg, by Brian Aune and Heather Burmeister

George Oberg lives in Vancouver, Washington. He was the first president of the Second Foundation, which was a gay rights organization during the 1970s. During the interview, he talks about the early gay rights movement as well as the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. He talks about how his partner died of AIDS.

Oberg, George

Oral history interview with Renee LaChance, by Brontë Olson and Nicole Estey

This is interview of Renee LaChance was conducted by Brontё Olson and Nicole Estey for the Gay and Lesbian Archives of the Pacific Northwest as part of their senior capstone at Portland State University. LaChance worked with the queer newspaper The Cascade Voice, first selling advertising and writing and later as the editor for a period of time before founding Just Out newspaper with Jay Brown in 1983. The interview covers her involvement in the Gay Pride Festival, AIDS and ACT-UP, and Ballot Measures 9 and 13, as well as her experiences with running Just Out, her decision to sell, and her feelings about the path of the paper after its purchase by Marty Davis in 1998. It finishes with words of wisdom offered by LaChance for both the gay community and the general public on life and changing the future.

LaChance, Renee

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