Cultural and Family Histories


The history of Monterey County was shaped by countless families and groups who contributed their unique perspectives to the fabric of the county and the cities that they lived in.

This section of the Archive lists the collections at the National Steinbeck Center that deal with group-level histories, which includes families, ethnic and cultural groups, and clubs and organizations. Please check on this page to see new collections as they are added.

Collection Title
Japanese American Citizens League, Salinas Valley Chapter History Project

Alternate Title: Salinas Valley JACL History Project

Collection Cataloged By

Salinas Valley JACL and Lisa Josephs

Finding Aid Prepared By

Lisa Josephs

Date Range
Interviews: 2002-2005
Photographs: 1922-2006 (Bulk: 1930s to 1950s)

Scope and Contents

The Japanese American Citizens League, Salinas Valley Chapter History Project is an on-going, multi-phase project with the aim of documenting the histories of Japanese and Japanese-American residents of Salinas and the Salinas Valley.

Phase I: The Issei of the Salinas Valley: Japanese Pioneer Families (2010), edited by Mae Sakasegawa and Salinas Valley JACL Seniors: a collection of personal family histories and photographs submitted by the residents of the Salinas Valley.
Phase II: The Oral History Project: This phase of the History Project consists of interviews with Japanese immigrants (Issei) and Japanese Americans (Nisei). Interviewees discussed their experiences of Salinas during the 1920s and 1930s, the transition to World War II, internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans, and their experiences upon return from internment, including social exclusion and re-building their livelihoods.
Phase III: The Japanese Flower Growers of Salinas Valley, a film by Eric Palmer (forthcoming). This film focuses on the stories of the Japanese immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1960s and developed the flower growing industry in the Salinas Valley.
The bulk of this Finding Aid is dedicated to describing Phase II of the Salinas Valley JACL History Project.


The following terms are defined here according to standard use and in line with the etymology of the words. In practice, the use of these terms may vary.

Issei: literally “first generation.” This word refers to a Japanese-born person who immigrates to another country.

Nisei: literally “second generation.” This word refers to a person born to at least one Issei parent in any country outside of Japan.

In common local usage, “Issei” is often associated with Japanese-born people who immigrated to the Salinas Valley at the turn of the 20th century. However, it can be correctly applied to any Japanese-born immigrant to a country, regardless of when they moved.

Arranged alphabetically by interviewee’s last name. Each interviewee has one folder, except where noted otherwise.

Project Documentation

Folder contents summary, Interview check list sheet, Deed of Gift to NSC, Memorandum of Understanding, Photograph inventory list with descriptions

Tei Dacus: Born in Japan in 1923, moved to the United States in 1953, first teacher of the first high school Japanese class in Monterey County.

Cassettes (2), Data Sheets (2), Transcript Approval, History “My Journey between Japan and America,” Newspaper articles (2): Oklahoma City Times, 1955; The Californian Newspaper, 2005

Kenny Gatanaga: Born in Japan in 1932, moved to the United States in 1959 and purchased land to grow flowers in Salinas. 2005-2010 President of the North American Japanese American Association.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Interview Transcript (2 copies)

Douglas Hayashi: Born in Hawaii 1942, moved to California in 1971 and became a CPA who worked for Hayashi and Wayland.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Interview Transcript #2

Frank & Sen Hibino: Married in 1924, Frank opened Frank’s Shoe Repair Shop in Salinas in 1935. They and their children were interned at the Salinas Assembly Center for 4 months in 1942 and Poston II in Arizona from 1942 to 1945.

Transcript Approval, Passports, Naturalization Certificates

Henry Hibino: Born in Salinas in 1934, interned at Poston II in Arizona during WWII. Later served as City Councilman and Mayor of Salinas.

Cassette, Floppy Disk, Data Sheet Resources, Transcript Approval, Interview Transcript #2, Newspaper Article

George Higashi: Born in 1925. His family was involved in farming in Salinas.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Family History, Letter from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for contributions to the National for the National Asian Heritage Month, news article about USDA honoring Asian American farming families during national Asian Heritage Month, Interview Transcript #2

Janice Higashi: Born to a family of Salinas farmers, interned at Poston II in Arizona during 1945. Worked as a secretary for the Salinas Union High School.

Interview Transcript

Pete Hironaka: Born in 1927 in Sacramento, CA. Interned during WWII at various camps and later worked as a commercial artist.

Photo, Data Sheet Transcripts (2), Thank you note, Questions, Pacific Citizens (JACL) News article 2007, 1930 census, History Article

Nancy Ichikawa & Violet Ichikawa Hatano

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Questionnaire

Yasuko Iida: Born in 1921 in Santa Barbara, CA. Interned during WWII, worked as a seamstress in Ohio after the War, before returning to California in 1959.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Profile from J.A.C.L. Golden Anniversary 2/20/1982, Essay by Zenichiro Uchida about Harry Iida with copy, Japanese article about Harry Iida, Interview Transcript #2

Simona Ikeda: Born in 1934 to a family of gardeners/farmers in Salinas. Her family was interned at Poston I during WWII and later returned to grow flowers.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Floppy Disk, Notecard, Interview Transcript #2, History Timeline

Ted Ikemoto: Born in 1922 in California, family was interned in Arkansas and Ted was drafted into the Army Reserve. Learned Japanese at DLI and was assigned to the 11th Airborne Headquarters in Akita-shi, Japan before returning to California.

History Timeline

Martha Imai

Cassette, Data Sheet, Interview Transcript with copy, E-mailed questions about Martha at Natividad Japanese School with responses

Tom Itani: Born in 1925, long time Salinas resident. Became involved in the Salinas agricultural industry.

Cassette, Transcript Approval, Interview Transcript #2, Family Expenses Journal, Notes in Japanese

Calvin & Beck Kanow: Calvin born in 1946 in Long Beach, CA. His father was a minister at the Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Interview Transcript #2, Article about Kanow from the Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church Files, Baptismal Registry list from Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Fumi Kita: Born in 1915 in Watsonville, she was interned during WWII with a 1 year old daughter. Her family returned to Salinas where she was a housewife and her husband was a dentist.

Cassette, Transcript Approval, Information from Tina Kageyama, Interview Transcript #2, Copied Documents

Helen Kitaji: Born in California in 1913, she was interned at Poston briefly before working for the Indian Service, due to her college education. Afterward, she returned to teaching, at Natividad in North Salinas when her youngest child was in elementary school.

Cassette, Copied Journal from May 1942 to July 1942, Interview Transcript, History of Parents, History Timeline, copies of letters to friends

Saburo Kitamura: Born in 1893 in Japan, decided to study automotive engineering in the United States and enrolled in the Armor Institute of Technology, working as a car salesman in Salinas until the Depression. After WWII and internment, he opened a fish market in Monterey.

Family History Kitamura History, “Broccoli and Celery Growing in the Salinas Valley,” My Life in the United States, Responses to the Issei Honorees, Photos

Mitzi Lockrem: Born in 1924 in Watsonville to a farming family. Her family evacuated to Grand Junction, CO and returned to CA in 1946. After college, Mitzi married and took a variety of jobs.

Data Sheet, Family History (2)

Lily Yamaguchi Matsunaga: Born in 1931, a life-long Salinas resident. Interned at Poston I from 1942 to 1945, her family worked in various vegetable farming and egg farming.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Parent and Family History, Interview Transcript #2

Marianne Ogawa: Born in 1922 in Gonzales to the Masui family, who worked as farm laborers in the Salinas Valley.

Cassettes (2), Transcript Approval, Follow-up interview, Questionnaire, Family History, Copied Documents of Registration Cards, Notes, Family Photos, Interview Transcript #2

Jane Oka: Born to a long-time Salinas family who worked in farming. She gives her impressions of internment as a child.

Interview Transcript

Larry Onisuka: Born in 1929, his father ran a grocery/dry goods store in Salinas. Joined the army and volunteered for the budding Air Force.

Cassette, Data Sheet, History Agreement, Interview Transcript

Frank Oshita: Born in 1920 to an agricultural labor family. His mother took over as breadwinner during his father’s long illness. After internment, Frank started a small green onion processing company with a business partner, which they sold just before retiring.

Cassettes (2); Data Sheet; Family History; History Notes; Birth Certificate; Oshita Inc. Articles; Naturalization Certificate; History of Prominent Nikkei Agricultural Growers, by Frank Oshita; History of Japanese Schools, by Frank Oshita

Miya Oshita: Born in 1920, long time Salinas area resident. Worked in agriculture , interned in Salinas and Poston.

Cassette, Data Sheet (#1 & #2), Transcript Approval, Family History

George Otsuki: Born in 1919 to a farming family. After interment, joined the Army and returned to strawberry farming.

Cassette, Data Sheets (2), Transcript Approval, Otsuki Family Reunion (7/31/92) in Lake Tahoe, Salinas Business News article (April 1978), Family Photos, Pic ‘N Pac Article, History, 1920 census

George Sakamoto (written by George Oshita): Born 1919, worked at Toya Garage in Salinas before interment, after which he joined the Amery Security Group Intelligence as a Research Analyst. Worked at the American Consulate in Tokyo where he married and had a family

Medals and Awards, Interview Transcript (2)

Jane Shigemasa (2006): Born in 1920, she was sent to take care of her grandmother in Japan shortly before WWII. She returned to keep her dual citizenship and was interned at Poston. Returned to Salinas in 1954, her husband farmed until retirement.

Data Sheet History

Harry Shirachi: Born in1908, pitched on various semi-pro baseball teams until WWII, interned at Poston. Later honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Cassette, Transcript Approval, History about Baseball, History Article, Newspaper article about Japanese American baseball team

Kimi Shoji: Born in 1920, her family worked in lettuce farming and briefly owned a restaurant in Salinas. Interned at Poston II before moving to Cleveland.

Data Sheet (2)

Jane Slater: Born in 1927 in California, moved back to Japan in 1935. Later did interpretive work for the U.S. Consulate in Japan. Married and moved back to California.

Cassette, Oral History Agreement, Interview Transcript (#1 & #2)

Mitsu Sonda: Born in 1917 in Salinas, worked as a medical secretary while interned at Poston II. Came to Salinas in 1986 for her daughter’s medical needs.

Cassette, Celebration of Life Program for Mitsu Sonda at El Estero Presbyterian Church (7/22/03), Interview Transcript, Letter to Peggy Reddell

Betty Takizawa: Born in 1928, her parents came to Salinas in 1925 to teach Japanese. Interned at Poston and later went to school for teaching and taught elementary school until retirement.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Questionnaire (#1 & #2), Interview Transcript, Newspaper article about the Japanese survivors of World War II Internment Camps (11/11/02), Photos

Charles Tanda: Born in 1918 to a farming family. Interned until 1942 and learned beekeeping. Returned to Salinas in 1958 as a gardener.

Cassette, Data Sheet, Transcript Approval, Interview Transcript #2

Henry Tanda: Born in 1906, elected as Salinas Valley Chapter JACL president in 1941. Interned at Poston. Worked in agriculture, the Army, and landscaping. He and his brother formed the Salinas Landscape Gardeners Association.

Family History, Organizational Memberships, Photos, Interview Transcript

George Tanimura: Second generation Japanese-American. Quit high school to work in lettuce farming. Interned at Posten with his family, but returned to re-start lettuce growing and co-founded Tanimura & Antle.

Video Cassette “Portrait of a Partnership,” Tanimura and Antle History, newspaper Articles, T&A Times Articles

Jim Tashiro

Cassette, Interview Transcript

Zenichiro Uchida: Born in 1921 and came to the US in 1953 as part of the International Agricultural Friends Association.

Cassettes (2), Transcript Approval, Interview Transcripts (4), Family History, Japanese American Daily News, article about Zenichiro Uchida (5/26/04) with copy, Memorial Service Program for Mr. Uchida (4/4/06), Newspaper articles (3), 50th Anniversary of first Japanese arrivals to Salinas, Obituary

Craig Yama: Born in 1921

Cassette, Transcript Approval, Questionnaire, Timeline, History article (2), Data Sheets (2), List of questions and responses, Maps, Seaside News Sentinel Article (10/11/56), Photos, Interview Transcript

External Hard drive with digitized Salinas Valley J.A.C.L History Collection: Digitized versions of Interviews and photos.

Box of Historical Photos, labeled

Roll #1 (8 photos)
Roll #2 (5 photos)
Roll #3 (13 photos)
Roll #4 (5 photos)
Roll #5 (36 photos)
Roll #6 (35 photos)
Roll #7 (39 photos)
Roll #8 (12 photos)
Roll #9 (31 photos)

Language(s) English, Japanese