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Kamekichi Tokita Papers, circa 1900-circa 2010, bulk bulk 1900-1948

Tokita, Kamekichi, 1897-1948


Collection Information

Size: 1.5 Linear feet

Summary: The scattered personal papers of Seattle area painter Kamekichi Tokita (1897-1948) measure 1.5 linear feet and date from circa 1900 to circa 2010 with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1910 to 1948. The papers include biographical materials, including documents about the closing of the War Relocation Authority's Minidoka Camp in Idaho; correspondence; three diaries written in Japanese documenting Tokita's war time experiences and relocation to Minidoka, two earlier notebooks, also written in Japanese, and scattered notes; a few personal business records; printed materials; one scrapbook; sketches; and one family photograph album.
Biographical materials include a file on the Public Works of Art Project, a file on the War Relocation Authority and the closing of the Minidoka internment camp, an immigration document, and an essay on Tokita written by Shokichi and Elsie Tokita.
Correspondence is primarily professional in nature and concerns exhibitions at the Seattle Museum of Art (previously the Art Institute of Seattle) and other topics. Correspondents include Burt Brown Baker, Roy Boynton, Kenneth Callahan, Henry Gallery, the Seattle Art Museum, and others.
Tokita's writings consist of three diaries, two notebooks, and scattered general writings, most of which are in Japanese. The diaries were kept during World War II and document the family's confinement at the Minidoka Relocation Camp in Idaho. Included is a transcript of the diaries which were translated from prewar to modern Japanese by Haruo Takasugi and from modern Japanese to English by Naomi Kusunoki-Martin.
Scattered business records include a patent application, records from the Cadillac Hotel, and a claim filed through the Department of Justice. A few published books in English and Japanese are about art and religion. Also found are exhibition catalogs for shows in which Tokita participated and clippings. There is one mixed media scrapbook about Tokita's exhibitions.
Artwork consists of unsigned pencil and watercolor sketches by Tokita. There is also a family photo album containing snapshots and portraits of the Tokita family and friends.

Biographical/Historical Note

Kamekichi Tokita (1897-1948) was a painter and businessman who emigrated from Japan in 1919 and settled in Seattle, Washington. Tokita was a member of the Seattle area progressive artists' collective known as the "Group of Twelve" and widely exhibited his artwork throughout the Pacific Northwest.


The Kamekichi Tokita papers were donated by his son, Shokichi Tokita in 1990. He donated a third and final diary in 2017. They were collected as part of the Archives of American Art Northwest Asian American project in Seattle, Washington.

Related Materials

Language Note

English; Japanese Collection is in English and Japanese.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool