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A Finding Aid to the Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall collection of Miné Okubo papers, circa 1940-2001

Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall collection of Miné Okubo papers, circa 1940-2001

Okubo, Miné, 1912-2001

Painter

Collection Information

Size: 1.4 linear feet

Summary: The Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall collection of Miné Okubo papers measure 1.4 linear feet and date from circa 1940 to 2001. Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall were long-time friends with and patrons of Okubo from the late 1950s until her death. The collection contains letters, writings, and sketches by Okubo. Among the printed materials is a copy of the 1944 special edition of "Fortune" magazine which was sympathetic to Japanese Americans interned during World War II and for which Okubo was hired to illustrate. Also found are scattered documents relating to Hall and Leeper.

Biographical/Historical Note

Miné Okubo (1912-2001) was a Japanese-American painter, illustrator, and author. Miné Okubo (1912-2001) was born in Riverside, California, and educated at University of California, Berkeley, where she received her BA and MA degrees. After graduation she studied in Paris with Fernand Leger for eighteen months before returning to the US with the outbreak of WW II. Back in California she worked under the Federal Arts Project, assisted Diego Rivera on his Treasure Island mural (Pan American Unity), and exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Art. In 1942 she and one of her brothers (she had six siblings) were sent to the Tanforan Assembly Center south of San Francisco and then transported to the Topaz, Utah, relocation center. At Topaz, Okubo taught art to children and worked as the art editor for Trek, Nisei literary magazine. In her spare moments she would wander around the camp sketching the people and activities. Her camp sketches, and the book based upon the internment experience, Citizen 13660, are what she is best known for. The book is still in print and won the American Book Award in 1984. In 1944, Fortune magazine brought her out of internment to help illustrate a special (sympathetic) issue on Japanese Americans. She decided to remain in New York and made Greenwich Village her home until her death.

Provenance

Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall donated the collection of Miné Okubo papers in 2001.

Related Materials

Funding

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