Esther Newman

Esther Newman recently moved back to her hometown of Encinitas, California. After college and a career in marketing and media production for Ohio’s Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, she returned to school to study twentieth century American history. While in graduate school, she became interested in her family’s history and now plans to continue independent research on topics affecting the Japanese Diaspora including internment, migration and assimilation.

Updated July 2010

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Burt Takeuchi Lauds Heroes With “Valor With Honor”

Their families were in concentration camps. They were designated enemy aliens. Their rights as American citizens were denied. “The government did us a big wrong and we had to prove how wrong they were,” said Frank Shimada. “The only way to prove it was by going to war and laying our life on the line.” Shimada, who had been interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming is one of more than a dozen members of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team who appear in the documentary, “Valor With Honor” by Burt Takeuchi. The feature-length film, to be screened at JANM on February 5 ...

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Carol Misumi: Piecing Together Sustained Support for JANM

When Carol Misumi laughs, she sounds more like 19 than 91, but this California native was indeed born in 1919. The retired home economics teacher uses her talents in design and sewing to continue her long-time support of the Japanese American National Museum (JANM). Working from her home in Santa Barbara, Carol crafts unique items, such as wall hangings and purses, from vintage Japanese textiles that are sold in the Museum’s store.

As Carol talked about her life, laughing easily and often, the unifying threads running through her story were both practical and adventuresome. That sense of adventure had ...

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Japanese American National Museum Store Online

Virgil Westdale: Farm Boy, Pilot, Soldier, Inventor, Author, and Gentleman

Virgil Westdale’s exceptional life story might never have been published had he not attended a Halloween dance. Unsure of what to wear, the World War II veteran donned his Army uniform of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, nearly sixty years after issue and still a perfect fit. On the dance floor, he met Stephanie Gerdes, who remarked, “it’s not really a costume, is it?” After many more questions spanning two years, the two collaborated on Westdale’s autobiography, Blue Skies and Thunder: Farm Boy, Pilot, Inventor, TSA Officer, and WWII Soldier of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Westdale ...

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Yoshitaro Amano, Canal Zone Resident and Prisoner #203 - Part 7

Part 6 >>

Amano and the others stepped off the train at Pennsylvania Station on June 16. Guards escorted the group across the street to the Pennsylvania Hotel, onto a freight elevator and up to the fourth floor. They joined “about thirty other people quartered in rooms close to us. Most of them looked like they had been living in New York. Among them were four or five Japanese ladies and, considering the circumstances, it was a very pleasant surprise to see them.” The pleasantries ended abruptly with a body and possession search:

This time, the F.B.I. was involved ...

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Interview with John Christgau, author of Enemies: World War II Alien Internment

John Christgau had just finished his first book, a novel called Spoon, when he began to search for a good story idea for his next project.  The resulting work of non-fiction, Enemies: World War II Alien Internment, was more than a good story, and the issues Christgau raised therein still resonate decades later. 

Originally published in 1985, Enemies has just been reprinted with a new afterword by the author.  The character-driven narrative features individuals of German, Jewish and Japanese descent.  Especially since the events of September 11, 2001 in this country, identifying “enemy aliens” in the name of national security ...

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