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Chiura Obata papers, 1891-2000, bulk 1942-1945

Contents and Arrangement

The collection is arranged in 9 series.

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Series 1:Biographical Material, 1894-1898, 1935-circa 1975
0.2 Linear feet
Box 1, OV 4

Included in this series are Chiura Obata's school diplomas and resumes, as well as material related to his family's forced relocation and eventual resettlement. Also included is material related to another prisoner's attack on him while incarcerated in Topaz in 1943. There is a small amount of biographical material on other people, such as documents related to memorial meetings held for Perham Nahl, a friend, artist and Berkeley art professor; and material related to the forced relocation of Hiro Niwa, a fellow Japanese American who was also incarcerated at Tanforan and Topaz along with the Obata family during World War II.
A biographical sketch and chronology on Chiura Obata are at the beginning of the series; the rest of the material is in chronological order.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages of notebooks and duplicates. A few publications have only had their covers and relevant pages digitized.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Biographical Sketch and Chronology Excerpt, circa 1947-circa 1975
1
1
Zoroku Sato (Chiura Obata) School Diplomas, 1894-1898
OV 4
1
Memorial Meetings for Perham W. Nahl, 1935-1939
1
2
Forced Relocation of Obata Family, Applications for Certificate of Identification, 1942
1
3
Forced Relocation of Obata Family, Notebooks of Items Packed or Sold, 1942
1
4
Forced Relocation of Hiro Niwa and Material from Tanforan and Topaz, 1942-1945
1
5
Tanforan Camp Visitor's Slip, 1942
1
6
Attack in Topaz and Hospitalization, 1943-1944
1
7
Resettlement from Topaz to St. Louis and Return to Berkeley, 1943-1945
1
8

Series 2:Correspondence, 1925-1992
0.4 Linear feet
Box 1

This series includes correspondence between Obata and family, friends, and colleagues, primarily while he was incarcerated at Tanforan and Topaz. Occasional letters addressed to his family members are also included. Notable correspondents include John Boylin, Dorothea Lange, Monroe Deutsch, Dorothy Parker, Miné Okubo, and Ruth Kingman. Much of the correspondence in this series is in Japanese, including letters of appreciation from students who attended the art schools established by Chiura Obata at Tanforan and Topaz. Some correspondence includes explanatory notes summarizing letter contents or providing context, written by either Kimi Kodani Hill or Mia Kodani Brill, Obata's grandchildren who donated the collection to the archives.
Chiura Obata letter drafts to unidentified correspondents are at the beginning of the series. The rest of the correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Letters and comments from students and Christmas and greeting cards are housed at the end of the series.
The bulk of this series has been digitized, except for duplicates.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Chiura Obata Letter Drafts to Unidentified Correspondents, circa 1942-circa 1945
1
9
Adams, Ansel and Virginia, circa 1944
1
10
Blake, Beth, 1935-1943, 1975
This file includes notes from an interview with Kim Kodani and Beth Blake, a transcript of Beth Blake's oral history, and a profile of Blake in the February 1939 California Monthly.
1
11
Boylin, John "Jack", 1942-1944
1
12
Breed, Eleanor, 1942-1943
Includes a photocopy of typescript "Eleanor Breed Church Diary."
1
13
Buckham, Margaret, 1942-1943
1
14
B, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
15
C, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
16
Deutsch, Monroe E. (University of California, Berkeley), 1942-1945
1
17
Dungan, H. L., 1942-1945
1
18
D, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
19
Emery, Edwin, 1941-1942
1
20
Fisher, Galen M., 1942-1945
1
21
Frederick, Mrs. Clarence J., 1943-1944
1
22
F, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
23
G, Miscellaneous, 1942
1
24
Haack, Arnold J., 1943
1
25
Heinz, Doris Hale, 1942-1943
1
26
H, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
27
Itow, Sashima, 1943-1944
1
28
I-J, Miscellaneous, 1942-1944
1
29
Kingman, Ruth, 1942-1944, 1986
Includes a transcript of Ruth King's oral history.
1
30
K, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
31
Lange, Dorothea (Taylor), 1942
1
32
Mission Board, 1939-1943
1
33
M, Miscellaneous, 1942-1944
1
34
N, Miscellaneous, 1925-1943
1
35
Obata, Gyo and Kimio, 1943
1
36
Obata, Haruko (to Chiura Obata in St. Louis), 1943
1
37
Obata, Kané, 1943
1
38
Okubo, Miné, 1948-1954, 1975
1
39
O, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
40
Parker, Dorothy, 1942-1944
1
41
P, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
42
Roosevelt, Eleanor and Correspondence About Painting Moonlight Over Topaz, Utah, 1942-1943, 1962, 1986-1992
Also includes clippings.
1
43
Russell Sage Foundation, 1946-1947
1
44
R, Miscellaneous, 1927, 1942-1949
1
45
Santa Fe School Students, 1938
1
46
Schenkofsky, Henry D., 1942-1943
1
47
Simmons, Dorothy, 1942-1943
1
48
S, Miscellaneous, 1941-1944
1
49
Tanforan Wartime Civil Control Administration, 1942
1
50
Topaz Art School, 1942-1943
Letters written by Chiura Obata on behalf of Topaz Art School to Topaz Center administration.
1
51
Topaz War Relocation Authority, 1943-1945
1
52
T, Miscellaneous, 1942-1943
1
53
University of California, Berkeley, 1941-1950
1
54
University of North Carolina, 1937-1938
Includes a list of paintings exhibited at the University of North Carolina, as well as a letter from Kalamazoo Institute of Art regarding the UNC exhibition.
1
55
University of Redlands, 1941
1
56
U, Miscellaneous, 1943-1944
1
57
Washington University, 1942-1945
1
58
Weidman, Merle and Herald, 1942
1
59
W-Y, Miscellaneous, 1942
1
60
Unidentified Correspondent, circa 1945
1
61
Letters and Comments from California Students, 1933-1934
1
62
Letters of Appreciation from Tanforan and Topaz Art School Students, 1942-1943
1
63
Christmas and Greeting Cards, A-H, circa 1943-circa 1944
1
64
Christmas and Greeting Cards, K-Y, and Unidentified Correspondents, 1943-1944
1
65

Series 3:Writings, 1924-circa 1964, circa 1986
0.2 Linear feet
Box 1

This series contains writings by Chiura Obata, including 3 diaries, mostly from his time at Topaz incarceration camp; handwritten and typescript drafts of lectures; notes; and essays. Most of the writings, especially the lectures, are about art, but there are some writings about his experience inside the incarceration camps. Some writings were probably delivered to classes, but it is not clear if they were lectures or essays. Also included in this series are writings by others on issues related to second generation Japanese Americans, as well as translations of the Japanese text accompanying Obata's paintings. Many of the writings are in Japanese.
The diaries are at the beginning of the series, followed by writings in alphabetical order by title. The remainder of the series is loosely arranged by type of writing such as lectures, notes, reports, and writings by others.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages, and duplicates.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Diary 1 from Topaz, circa 1943
1
66
Diary 2 from Topaz, 1943
1
67
Diary from Topaz and St. Louis Resettlement, circa 1943
1
68
"Art and Individuality" Lecture Notes for University of California Student Exhibition, 1933
1
69
"Boku-ga" and Explanations of Other Painting Techniques, circa 1930-circa 1950
1
70
"Dots and Lines", circa 1933-circa 1935
1
71
"Individuality and Painting", 1933
1
72
"Japanese Architecture and Its Original Background", 1933
1
73
"Kiin-Seido: The Fundamental Idea of Japanese Painting", circa 1933-1935
1
74
"Lecture on Japanese Painting", circa 1930-circa 1950
1
75
"Natural Rhythm and Its Harmony," Address at California School of Fine Art San Francisco Society of Women Artists, 1933
1
76
"Nature of California As I See It", 1928
1
77
"Self-Reflection in Art", 1935
1
78
"Sumi (Ink-Stick) and the Oriental Arts" and "Bokushoku, Sumi Iro", 1935
1
79
"Three Fundamental Strokes", circa 1930-circa 1950
1
80
"The Three Great Essentials in Art Production", circa 1933-circa 1935
1
81
"Two Methods of Gyotaku", 1956
Also includes correspondence.
1
82
"Wood Block Prints", circa 1936
1
83
"'Ye-fude' Japanese Painting Brushes", circa 1930-circa 1950
1
84
Lecture Notes, 1933-1938
1
85
Lecture Series on Perham W. Nahl and Ukiyoe Artists, 1936
1
86
Lectures, Speeches, and Other Writings from Topaz, circa 1942-circa 1943
1
87
Notes and Outlines for Materials and Pigments in Japanese Painting, circa 1930-circa 1950
1
88
Notes, Lists, and License Related to Gyotaku (Fishing), 1924, 1945-circa 1964
1
89
"Report to Mayor C. W. Culp", circa 1943
1
90
Statement on Forced Relocation and Activities (Incomplete), circa 1945-circa 1960
1
91
Translation of Tanforan and Topaz Paintings and Poems, circa 1986
Translation from Japanese to Romaji and English. Romanji refers to the romanization of Japanese using Latin script. This file also includes some English translations.
1
92
Writings About Topaz Relocation Center and School, circa 1942-circa 1943
1
93
Writings by Others - Excerpt of Essay on Sumi by D. T. Suzuki, circa 1930s
1
94
Writings by Others - Lectures on Japanese Art by Unknown, circa 1930-circa 1935
Lectures possibly by Perham Nahl.
1
95
Writings by Others - Notes on Chiura Obata's Lectures by Beth Blake, 1934
1
96
Writings by Others - Writings on the Nisei (2nd Generation Japanese Americans) by Various Authors, circa 1935-circa 1942
1
97

Series 4:Professional Activities, 1913, 1924-1967
0.3 Linear feet
Boxes 1-2, OV 4

The professional activities series contains materials related to Obata's work as an artist and art educator, including records from his time teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, to the Tanforan and Topaz Art Schools he established, and documents about other activities within the relocation centers. Most of the series consists of teaching files, but there are other files on projects and commissions such as his set design for Madame Butterfly, art inventory lists, and the donation of a painting to the Japanese American Citizens League.
This series is arranged in chronological order.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages, blank versos of photographs, and duplicates. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages digitized.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Portola Festival - Union Square, 1913
1
98
Certificate of Copyright Registration, Telephone Directory Covers, 1924
1
99
Madame Butterfly Opera Set, 1924
1
100
Chiura Obata School of Painting Course List, circa 1932
1
101
University of California Course Outlines, 1932-1936
1
102
Yosemite Outdoor Sketching Course List of Materials, 1938
1
103
Chiura Obata Art Inventory and Price Lists at Best's Studio, 1938-1941
1
104
California Monthly Covers for California's Colorful Campuses, 1939-1940 (Painting Portfolio), 1939-1947
1
105
Obata Studio Blank Letterhead and Invoice Forms, 1939-circa 1942
1
106
Tanforan Art School - Clippings, 1942
1
107
Tanforan Art School - Clippings, 1942
OV 4
2
Tanforan Art School - Exhibition List of Art by Students and Teachers, circa 1942
Work by students and teachers at Tanforan shown in traveling exhibition at Berkeley and Pasadena Art Institute
1
108
Tanforan Art School - Letter of Intent to Establish Art School, 1942
1
109
Tanforan Art School - Record Book, 1942
1
110
Tanforan Art School - "Survey of Obata Art Project" and "Proposed Project", 1942
1
111
Topaz Art School - "Adult Education Program Guide", 1943
2
1
Topaz Art School - Art School and High School Commencement, circa 1943
2
2
Topaz Art School - Clippings, 1942-1943
OV 4
3
Topaz Art School - "History and Development of Topaz Art School" by Matsusaburo Hibi, circa 1942
2
3
Topaz Art School - Materials Related to Exhibits and Student Art, 1942-1943
2
4
Topaz Art School - Student Roster for Sewing and Knitting Classes, circa 1943
2
5
Lectures and Demonstrations in Salt Lake City, Utah, 1943
2
6
University of California Course Outlines, 1946
2
7
Donation of Glorious Struggle to the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), 1965-1967
2
8

Series 5:Exhibition Files, 1925-1951
0.3 Linear feet
Box 2, OV 4

This series includes a range of materials related to group and solo exhibitions of Chiura Obata's work. There are exhibition lists, price lists, catalogs, photographs, correspondence, loan forms, clippings, printed material, and one guest register.
The exhibitions files are arranged in chronological order.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages, blank versos of photographs, and duplicates. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages digitized.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Chiura Obata Exhibition in Los Angeles - Guest Register (1925), circa 1925
2
9
Exhibition and Presentation of Painting - Pescadero Union High School (1928), 1928, 1978
Includes letters of appreciation and gratitude from students.
2
10
Sendai Library Exhibition (1929), 1929
2
11
Sendai Library Exhibition (1929), 1929
OV 4
4
Brush and Sumi Exhibition - Golden Gate Institute (1934 March-April), 1934
2
12
Chiura Obata Exhibition - Tilly Polak, Inc. (1935), 1935
2
13
Chiura Obata Exhibition - Tilly Pollak, Inc. (1935), 1935
OV 4
5
Chiura Obata Paintings Exhibition - University of California Art Gallery (1937), 1937
2
14
Chiura Obata Paintings Exhibition - University of California Art Gallery (1937), 1937
OV 4
6
Chiura Obata Exhibition - Greensboro Federal Art Center (1937-1938), 1938
2
15
Chiura Obata Paintings Exhibition - E.B. Crocker Art Gallery (1938), 1938
2
16
Chiura Obata Paintings Exhibition - E.B. Crocker Art Gallery (1938), 1938
OV 4
7
Golden Gate International Exposition (1939), 1939-1940
2
17
Chiura Obata Silk Paintings Exhibition - Santa Barbara State College (1941), 1941
2
18
Relocation Center Art Exhibit - Friends Center (1943), 1943
2
19
Veteran's Exhibition - University of California, Berkeley (1946), 1943, 1946
2
20
Chiura Obata Exhibition - Raymond and Raymond Galleries (1946), 1946
2
21
Chiura Obata Exhibition - University of Southern California (1946), 1946
2
22
Chiura Obata Exhibitions - Maxwell's Gallery (1947), 1947-1956
Includes paintings inventory and list of artworks sold over the course of several years.
2
23
Chiura Obata Exhibition - Maxwell's Gallery (1948), 1948
OV 4
8
Chiura Obata Painting Exhibition - Doll and Richards, Inc. (1950), 1950-1951
2
24

Series 6:Printed Material, 1901-circa 1906, 1925-2000
0.8 Linear feet
Box 2, OV 5

Printed material includes exhibition announcements, catalogs, magazines, newspapers, and clippings, and calendars. Noteworthy items include copies of TREK, which were published by Japanese Americans incarcerated at Topaz; material from the War Relocation Authority; a copy of the 1948 Sierra Club Base Camp; printed material related to Miné Okubo; and copies of Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata's Art of Internment.
For the most part, the contents of this series are arranged by publication type such as books, exhibition catalogs, magazines, newspapers clippings, etc. However, there are a few folders which are arranged by subject, which reflect the order in which they were arranged when donated to the archives.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages, and duplicates. In some cases, exhibition catalogs and other publications have had their covers, title pages, and relevant pages digitized.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Book - The Four Immigrants Manga: A Japanese Experience in San Francisco, 1904-1924 by Henry Kiyama, 1999
2
25
Book - The Second Generation Problem: Some Suggestions Toward Its Solution by Roy Hidemichi Akagi, 1926
2
26
Book - Sierra Club Base Camp, 1948
2
27
Book - Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata's Art of Internment, Edited with Text by Kimi Kodani Hill, 2000
2
28
Book - University of California - In Memoriam, 1978 September
2
29
Calendar With Reproductions of Chiura Obata Work, 1996
2
30
University of California Engagement Calendar with Paintings by Chiura Obata, 1948
2
31
Exhibition Announcements, circa 1930-1953
2
32
Exhibition Catalogs, 1925-1933
2
33
Exhibition Catalogs, 1933-1934
2
34
Exhibition Catalogs, 1935
2
35
Exhibition Catalogs, 1936-1942, 1952
2
36
Magazines and Journals, 1934-1939
2
37
Magazines and Journals, 1943-1948
2
38
Magazines and Journals - California Monthly, 1938-1939, 1945
2
39
Magazines and Journals - TREK, 1942-1943
2
40
Newspaper Clippings, 1901-1903
OV 5
1
Newspaper Clippings, 1932-1940
2
41
Newspaper Clippings, 1942-1945
2
42
Newspaper Clippings, 1942-1945
OV 5
2
Newspaper Clippings, 1946-1987
2
43
Newspaper Clippings, 1946-1987
OV 5
3
Printed Material on 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, circa 1906
2
44
Printed Material on Charles Christian Nahl and Nahl Family, 1937
2
45
Printed Material on Miné Okubo, 1972-1978
2
46
Printed Material on Miné Okubo, 1965-1966
OV 5
4
Printed Material on Forced Relocation and War Relocation Authority Publications, 1934, 1942-1945
Includes a typed copy of Americans in Concentration Camps by Harry Paxton Howard from the September 1942 issue of The Crisis. Also included is New Homes for the Issei, 1945, a WRA publication, in Japanese.
2
47
Printed Material on Forced Relocation and War Relocation Authority Publications, circa 1978-1995
2
48

Series 7:Photographic Material, circa 1891-1969
0.2 Linear feet
Box 3

Included in this series are photographs for the book Topaz Moon: Chiura Obata's Art of Internment, photographs of the Obata family's forced relocation from Berkeley, photos from the War Relocation Authority, and photographs of their home in Webster Groves, Missouri. Also included are photos of works of art and a photograph album from the Pan Pacific International Exposition. There are only a few photographs of Chiura Obata scattered throughout the series.
The photographs used in the book Topaz Moon are at the beginning of the series. The rest of the series is arranged alphabetically by subject.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Materials which have not been digitized include blank versos of photographs and duplicates.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Photographs for the Book, Topaz Moon (2000), circa 1891-circa 1943
Includes photographs of Chiura Obata and family, photographs of Tanforan Art School and students taken by Dorothea Lange, and photographs of Obata's artwork.
3
1
Before Singing, Portrait of Talia Savanieva (Thalia Sabanieva) by Chiura Obata, circa 1924
3
2
Forced Relocation From Berkeley, 1942
Includes 2 photocopies of photographs of Chiura Obata and his wife Haruko.
3
3
Gyosei Hall Exhibition, San Francisco, 1930 November
3
4
Hawai'i and Fruit Industry, circa 1953
3
5
Home in Webster Groves, Missouri, 1945
3
6
Photograph Album of Pan Pacific International Exposition, 1915
3
7
San Francisco After 1906 Earthquake, circa 1906
3
8
S.S. Shinyo Maru Trip, 1928 November
Includes steamship company booklet in Japanese.
3
9
Uesugi Kenshin Portrait (1903) by Chiura Obata, 1969
3
10
War Relocation Authority Photographs, circa 1944-circa 1945
Includes photographs of Chiura Obata and family, photographs of an exhibition of art by Japanese Americans during their incarceration, and photocopies of images held at the National Archives and associated catalog records.
3
11

Series 8:Artwork, 1917-circa 1945
0.2 Linear feet
Box 3, OV 5

This series contains sketches and two sketchbooks, some of which were created during Obata's incarceration at Topaz though they do not appear to be of the inside of Topaz Relocation Center. There are a few watercolor drawings based on a trip to Hawaii (see Hawaii images in photographic material series). Also included is an autograph book containing sketches and paintings by others and sketches Obata created for commercial work in St. Louis.
The material in this series is in alphabetical order by folder title.
The bulk of this series has been digitized. Blank pages of sketchbooks have not been digitized.
DescriptionContainerSelect
Autograph Book With Sketches and Notes From Others, 1917-1927
3
12
Hawaii Watercolor Drawings, circa 1935
3
13
Modern Dance Sketches, circa 1933-1934
3
14
Sketch on Verso of Letter Draft to Dorothy Swaine Thomas, circa 1943
3
15
Sketchbook, 1943
3
16
Sketchbook, 1943-1944
3
17
Sketches Created While in Topaz, 1942-circa 1943
Does not appear to consist of sketches of Topaz Relocation Center.
3
18
Sketches for Commercial Work in St. Louis, circa 1945
3
19
Sketches for Commercial Work in St. Louis, circa 1945
OV 5
5

Series 9:Unprocessed Addition,
1 Linear foot

DescriptionContainerSelect
Unprocessed Papers
6

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.