George Hoshida (1907-1985) was an incarcerated artist who documented camp life with pencil and brushwork in a series of notebooks
he kept between 1942 and 1945. This collection largely consists of correspondence between George and his wife, Tamae, after
he was separated from his family and intern at various Justice Department Camps. It also includes legal documents, government
documents, notes, and sketches.
George Hoshida was born in Japan in 1907. In 1912, at the age of four, he immigrated with his family to Hilo, Hawai'i. It
is important to note Hoshida's age when he made the journey across the Pacific. Although his entire adolescence and adulthood
was spent in Hawai'i, Hoshida was forbidden by law to become a naturalized citizen. Unlike migrants from Europe, immigrants
from Asia were restricted from naturalization because of race until 1952.
A self-educated man, Hoshida's formal education ended when he graduated from junior high school (he received his GED after
the war). Hoshida then went on to work for the Hilo Electric Light Company, married and started a family. He was also involved
in his Buddhist temple and had a keen interest in Judo. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hoshida was considered "potentially
dangerous" due to his community involvement. Although he professed little interest in international politics, the practice
of his Buddhist faith, his leadership in his temple, and his interest in Judo deemed him "suspicious." Hoshida was first incarcerated
in Kilauea Military Camp and then Sand Island in Hawai'i, and then subsequently taken to the Justice Department camps at Fort
Sam Houston in Texas and Lordsburg and Santa Fe in New Mexico.
During the first two years of his incarceration, Hoshida was separated from his wife, Tamae, and four daughters, Taeko, June,
Sandra, and Carole. Taeko was severely disabled and remained institutionalized in Hawai'i when the rest of the family was
sent to the War Relocation Authority concentration camp in Jerome, Arkansas in the hopes of reuniting. Hoshida was finally
able to join his family in Jerome and the family was later transferred together to the camp at Gila River. Sadly, Taeko died
in Hawai'i before her family was able to return.
While Hoshida was incarcerated, he cultivated a long-time interest in drawing. He filled notebooks with drawings and watercolors
of his time behind barbed wire. He drew portraits of fellow inmates, depicted scenes of daily activities, sketched the surrounding
camp environment, and used his skills to teach other inmates. His detailed visual diary provides an extensive and personal
record of his experiences. Hoshida drew for his own consumption, but his carefully preserved drawings and watercolors help
us reconstruct this critical time in American history.
In December 1945, Hoshida and his family returned home to Hilo, Hawai'i. In 1959, Hoshida, along with his wife and daughter
Carole, resettled in Los Angeles where he worked as a deputy clerk in the municipal court. His daughters June and Sandra would
later relocate to Los Angeles. After retiring, Hoshida returned to Hawai'i where he wrote and published an autobiography entitled,
Life of a Japanese Immigrant Boy in Hawai’i. George Hoshida died in 1985.
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Hirasaki
National Resource Center at the Japanese American National Museum (firstname.lastname@example.org).