Riverside, Calif (library.ucr.edu) – The University of California, Riverside Library is delighted to announce that we have recently completed a six-month project to digitize the Fujimoto family diaries.
On March 11, 1942, the life of one Riverside family was shattered when US government officials took local farmer Toranosuke Fujimoto into federal custody. His son, George Fujimoto, age 21, wrote in his diary that day about his father’s arrest: “Went to school as usual….Came home about 5 p.m. and was shocked to learn that Pop was taken into custody by federal officials today. 28 Riverside Japanese aliens were rounded up in today’s raid; Mr. Sanematsu & Pop included.”
Insight into the lives of this family will now be readily available since the UCR Library has completed digitizing 45 Fujimoto family diaries with more than 24,000 pages. Many of these pages are already available online through Calisphere, a UC-wide digital collections archive system. Complete access is expected within a couple of weeks.
Highlighting the voices of these two men from an immigrant family, this collection documents the daily experiences of the Fujimoto family’s life from 1913-1968, including the events surrounding the family’s forced removal from their farm and home in Riverside to their relocation to and incarceration at a camp in Poston, Arizona.
“The Fujimoto diaries are among the treasures of the UCR Special Collections and University Archives. They provide an unforgettable insight into a turbulent chapter of life in California and beyond,” said Cherry Williams, UCR Library’s Director of Distinctive Collections.
Digitizing the dairies, which were donated to the UCR Library more than 20 years ago, is a major step forward in preserving this piece of history for future generations, said Eric Milenkiewicz, Digital Initiatives Program Manager.
“Complete digital versions of the diaries are now available online, providing a worldwide audience with a glimpse into the Japanese-American experience in the US during the early to mid-twentieth century, from the personal perspectives of a father and his son,” Milenkiewicz said.
Toranosuke Fujimoto’s diaries are written in Japanese while George Fujimoto’s are in English. Milenkiewicz explained that by making the diaries available online, “We hope to further enhance this digital resource by unlocking the text contained within each diary entry through translation/transcription, which will lead to even better access and discovery.”
“We the family are happy at the work and care that UCR has given toward these diaries,” said Shanti Taka, Toranosuke Fujimoto’s granddaughter and George’s niece. “I look forward to reading them online myself.”
Library staff in Special Collections and University Archives frequently use the Fujimoto diaries in their teaching activities. UCR Library’s Primary Source Literacy Librarian Robin M. Katz believes that the ties to Riverside make the Fujimoto diaries especially poignant for members of the UCR community: “Here is a Japanese-American family that had established their life in Riverside and thought, ‘This is the American dream’ and then their lives are turned upside-down, and their property seized.”
The diaries themselves are available for use by the UCR community and the community at large, in the UCR Department of Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.
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