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Guide to the Tomie Arai and Legan Wong Papers MSS.439

Fales Library and Special Collections

Collection processed by Stacey Flatt

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 07, 2021
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Amy C. Vo to change legacy description about the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II  , December 2020

Scope and Contents

The Tomie Arai and Legan Wong Papers document the spouses' work in the arts, Asian American Studies, and the Asian American Movement in New York dating from the 1970s to the early 2000s. Older materials in this collection relate to Arai as a student in New York and documentation accumulated by Arai's parents and other family members regarding the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The collection includes exhibition ephemera, Asian American community publications, drawings and prints, correspondence, photographs, and bilingual event posters and announcements in English and either Chinese, Japanese or Korean.

This collection contains material on Arai and Wong's involvement in large and smaller Asian American activist-driven organizations including the Basement Workshop, Cityarts Workshop, and Godzilla Asian American Arts Network which have historically been under-documented in larger arts and cultural institutions. These organizations files typically contain promotional material, newsclippings, correspondence, and event posters with printwork by Arai. This collection also contains a large amount of material accumulated by Arai and Wong on Asian American artists' exhibitions and performances in the New York City area during the 1970s through 2000s, including posters, fliers, artist prints, and informational brochures.

A large portion of the collection documents Arai's work from the 1970s to the 2000s, including exhibition announcements and catalogues, correspondence, press materials, and work files for the exhibitions   Mi Familia Mi Comunidad, and  Chinese y Criollo, a collaborative oral history and art project. This collection also contains publications, posters, drawings, prints, and proofs from Arai's work as a graphic artist for Citibank, focusing primarily on promotional material for small New York Asian American community groups.

Legan Wong's files document his development of university classes on the Asian American experience, including source material, lecture plans, correspondence, and conference notes and information. His files also contain information on community groups he was involved with, including the Asian Americans for Equal Employment (AAFEE), Asian in the Spirit of the Indochinese (ASI), and the Asian Tactical Theater. Correspondence and informational material on the American Softball League in New York and the Soh Daiko performance group illustrate his involvement in the Asian American cultural community as well.

A small amount of older material in this collection relates to Arai's junior high school and early adult years in the 1960s and also contains ephemera and print material accumulated by her parents during the 1940s and 1950s, some of which concerns the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Materials include research, publications produced and distributed at individual facilities, and original artwork by Arai's uncle, Unosuke Sasaki, created during his period of incarceration at the Topaz Relocation Center, a concentration camp in Utah, in the early 1940s.


The papers are arranged in four series, which have been arranged in chronological order within each series. Files with the same title are grouped together and arranged chronologically within that group.

The series arrangement of the papers is as follows:

Series I. Community Activism
Series II. Tomie Arai Artwork
Series III. Legan Wong Work Files
Series IV. Tomie Arai Early Life and Family