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Guide to the Michi Kobi Papers TAM.697

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2596
special.collections@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Heather Mulliner

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on February 08, 2022
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

 Edited by Heather Mulliner to include incorporation of September 2016 accretion Edited by Rachel Searcy to change legacy description about the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II  , January 2017 , September 2020

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Kobi, Michi
Source - dnr: Nakamura, Maggie
Title: Michi Kobi Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1977-2015
Abstract: Michi Kobi (1924-2016) was a Japanese American actress and activist who was forcibly removed from her home and incarcerated at the Central Utah Relocation Center, a concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah during World War II. The Michi Kobi Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and drafts of her writings. Correspondence predominantly relates to Kobi's study of Japanese American history and the incarceration of Japanese Americans, and includes letters to personal friends, scholars, and activists in the Japanese American community. Kobi's writings include multiple drafts of an untitled novel about Japanese Americans in San Francisco, research files on Japanese Americans, and drafts of her unpublished memoir about her experience at the Topaz concentration camp. The collection also contains photographs from Kobi's visit to the Topaz historic site in the 1980s, as well as audio recordings of conferences and meetings on this period of Japanese American incarceration.
Quantity: 5.5 Linear Feet in 4 record cartons, 1 manuscript box, 1 flat box, 1 media box, and 1 oversize folder.
Quantity: 18 audiocassettes
Location: Materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.
Language: Materials are in English.
Call Phrase: TAM.697

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Biographical Note

Michi Kobi (1924-2016), born Machiko Okamoto, was a Japanese American actress and activist. During World War II, she, along with 110,000 other Nisei, was forcibly removed from her home and incarcerated at the Central Utah Relocation Center, a concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah. She turned to acting while incarcerated and after the war pursued an acting career in New York, appearing in film and Broadway productions. Kobi also worked to draw attention to the injustices of Japanese American incarceration, and in 1980 served as the co-chair of the East Coast Japanese Americans for Redress. The organization advised the federal Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians and helped organize the November 1981 commission hearings in New York City, which concluded that the incarceration was a grave injustice based on racial prejudice and not justified by military necessity. The Commission recommended an official Government apology and narrowly defined redress payments to survivors, which were introduced into legislation as the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

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Scope and Contents

The Michi Kobi Papers consist of correspondence, newspaper clippings, subject files, and drafts of her writings. Correspondence includes personal friends, scholars, and activists in the Japanese American community predominantly focused on Kobi's study of Japanese American history and the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The bulk of this collection documents Kobi's involvement in the campaign for Reconciliation and Redress for Japanese Americans forcibly removed from their homes and incarcerated during WWII. Materials include Kobi's original writings about the experiences of Japanese Americans in these concentration camps, research files on US policy toward Asian Americans, papers and programs from Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) conferences, audio recordings of meetings and conferences, and notes from public events focused on the redress movement. Kobi's writings include multiple drafts of an untitled novel about Japanese Americans in San Francisco, research files on Japanese Americans, and drafts of her unpublished memoir alternately titled "Utah Pilgrimage" or "Going back to Topaz." The collection also contains photographs from Kobi's 1981 visit to the historic site of Central Utah Relocation Center, the concentration camp (euphemistically referred to as an internment camp) in Topaz, Utah where Kobi was incarcerated. This collection also includes an oral history recording of the Togasaki family.

Arrangement

This collection has not been arranged by an archivist. The materials are arranged in the order in which they were received from the donor.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Nakamura, Maggie

Document Type

  • Correspondence.
  • Memoirs

Subject Organizations

  • Central Utah Relocation Center

Subject Topics

  • Japanese Americans -- Civil rights
  • Japanese American removal, 1942-1945
  • Japanese Americans -- Reparations.
  • Concentration camps

Subject Places

  • Topaz (Utah)

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Any rights (including copyright and related rights to publicity and privacy) held by Michi Kobi name, the creator of this collection, were relinquished and transferred to the public domain in 2016 by Margaret (Maggie) S. Nakamura. These materials are governed by a Creative Commons CC0 license, which permits publication and reproduction of materials accompanied by full attribution. See, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/.

Preferred Citation

Identification of item, date; Michi Kobi Papers; TAM 697; box number; folder number; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Audiovisual materials have not been preserved and may not be available to researchers. Materials not yet digitized will need to have access copies made before they can be used. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Margaret S. (Maggie) Nakamura in 2016. The accession number associated with these gifts are 2016.061 and 2017.003.

Processing Information

This collection was received in two accretions in 2016. The first accretion, consisting of two boxes, was rehoused and described at the collection-level. The second accretion consisted of an additional five boxes papers, photographs, and artifcats. Materials were moved into archival housing and at the time of accessioning a file list was created for both accretions. Materials in this collection have not been arranged by an archivist. In 2020, narrative description was edited to more accurately describe the forced removal and incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Researchers can access previous versions of the finding aid in our GitHub repository at https://github.com/NYULibraries/findingaids_eads/commits/master/tamwag/tam_697.xml.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Correspondence Files
1988-2015
Box: 1 Subject Files: Nisei and Japanese American Issues
1987-2014
Box: 1 Utah Pilgrimage: Draft of Memoir
1983, 1986
Box: 2
Box: 1 Novel Manuscript
1988-2000
Box: 2
Box: 2 Going Back to Topaz: Draft of Memoir
1977-1992
Box: 3 Subject Files: Japanese American Culture and Religion
1982-2012
Box: 3 Subject Files: United States Policy toward Asian Americans
1987-2015
Box: 4 Redress Movement
1981-1988
Box: 4 Subject Files: Incarceration of Japanese Americans During WWII
1970s-1980s
Box: 5
Box: 5 Novel Notes and Manuscripts
1983-2001
Box: 5 Topaz: Articles and Memorabilia
1983-2012
Box: 5 Utah Pilgrimage: Draft of Memoir
1985
Box: 6 Topaz Demolition Site Photographs
1980s
Box: Tamiment Shared OS009 Folder : 1 (Mixed Materials [31142062759124])

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