LOS ANGELES — Utilizing a total of more than $115,000 from two National Park Service Japanese American Confinement Sites grants for 2016, the Japanese American National Museum has begun conservation work on the Allen Hendershott Eaton Collection of art and artifacts and will soon begin digitization of the Gihachi and Tsugio Yamashita Collection for an interactive website that chronicles one family’s journeys during World War II.
JANM acquired the Eaton Collection in 2015, following the cancellation of a public auction that would have disrespected the memory and hardships of the Japanese Americans who created the artifacts while incarcerated during WWII. The Japanese American community joined together to speak out against the auction; JANM’s acquisition assured the preservation of the collection in perpetuity.
Conservation work has already been completed on two oil paintings and one painted wood sign in the Eaton Collection. Work has begun on 25 paper artifacts — mostly watercolors — prioritized based on their current condition. The $41,485 from the JACS grant will help fund conservation of an additional 12 paper artifacts when the first 25 are completed. Money was also put toward evaluation of more than 100 three-dimensional objects to determine their conservation needs.
“Meet the Yamashitas: An Interactive Website” will make available to the public letters, telegrams, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks and camp crafts from the museum’s Yamashita Collection. Gihachi Yamashita was arrested by the FBI on Dec. 8, 1941 — the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japanese Naval Forces. He was held in a series of jails and internment camps, separated from his wife, Tsugio, and their two young daughters, Lillian and Angela, who, soon after Gihachi’s arrest, were sent to the Japanese American concentration camp in Rohwer, Ark. It wasn’t until 1944 that the family was reunited at Rohwer. After the end of WWII, the family went first to Salt Lake City then returned to Los Angeles to restart their lives.
The JACS grant of more than $74,000 will support digitization of the Yamashita Collection, including seven 16mm home movies; help pay for translation of the Japanese language portions of the collection, including Gihachi’s diaries and scrapbook; and partially fund the development of a microsite that will allow the public to explore and study the Yamashita Collection and the family’s war-time experiences.
NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis first announced the 2016 grant recipients at a reception for the All Camps Consortium hosted by the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C., on May 12.
The JANM grant proposals were selected through a competitive process. For 2016, grants totaling $2.8 million were awarded to 15 projects in five states. Since its establishment in 2006, the JACS grant program has awarded more than $21 million. A total of $38 million was authorized for the life of the program, whose mission is to teach future generations about the injustices of the WWII confinement of Japanese Americans and inspire commitment to equal justice under the law.