Garrett Starmer Collection of Student Essays

Finding aid created by Jose Quirarte.
Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
© 2020
Japanese American National Museum. All rights reserved.

Finding aid for the Garrett Starmer Collection of Student Essays

Collection number: 2020.16

Descriptive Summary

Title: Garrett Starmer collection of student essays
Dates: 1942-1945
Collection number: 2020.16
Collection Size: .42 linear feet (1 box)
Repository: Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Los Angeles, California 90012
Aggregator: Starmer, Garrett
Abstract: This collection consists of 48 autobiographical essays that Nisei students wrote for Garrett Starmer's class at Tri-State High School at the Tule Lake concentration camp. The students wrote about their family history and thoughts over their removal and incarceration. The essays date from 1942 to 1945, but a bulk of them are dated 1943.
Physical location: Japanese American National Museum. 100 North Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.


By appointment only. Please contact the Collections Management and Access Unit ( Advanced notice is required.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from materials in this collection must be submitted to the Collections Management and Access Unit at the Japanese American National Museum (

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Garrett Starmer Collection of Student Essays. [2020.16], Japanese American National Museum. Los Angeles, CA.

Acquisition Information

Acquired in 2020 as a gift of Garrett Starmer III, son of Garrett Ludlow Starmer.

Processing Information

The collection was processed in 2020 by Jamie Henricks. Research on students in the collection and creation of a finding aid was completed by Jose Quirarte in 2020.

Biographical Note

Garrett Ludlow Starmer was born October 23, 1915 to Henry Starmer and Winifred (Ludlow) Starmer in Palo Alto, California. Starmer grew up in the Bay Area and attended Palo Alto Senior High School, where he participated in the music and theatre clubs. After his high school graduation, he pursued acting in New York for several years before earning his B.A. and M.A. at Stanford University.
At the start of World War II, he received a 4-F selective service classification, which prevented him from serving in the military. In order to fulfill his alternative service requirement, Starmer began teaching at the high school at the Tule Lake concentration camp. There, Starmer taught speech and a variety of other classes, including a vocational class called "Senior Problems." Starmer was also one of the senior class advisors during the 1942-1943 school year, and was involved with the drama program at Tule Lake.
Some of Garrett Starmer’s students from his "Senior Problems" class, whose essays are included in the collection include:
Kiyoshi Joe Abe, Keiichi Kay Abe, Eva Eve Aramaki, Masako S. Doi, George Goto, Asako Peggy Ike, Fusako Frances Ikeda, Johnnie Inouye, Hanako Alyse Ishigaki, Fumiko L. Ishikawa, Hanae Kato, Chiyoko V. Kawahata, Mary Kenashita, Masami Kiyono, Mae Kubo, Miyo Kumagai, Ruby T. Kumasaka, Fumiko Kurosaki, Toshio George Matsui, Yorimi Matsumoto, Marie Matsune, Katsuko Helen Matsuo, Takeshi Monji, Hideo Herbert Morioka, Toshiko Morishige, Itsuye Murakami, Kiyoko J. Nakagawa, Sumiko Nishihara, Dorothy Sadako Nishimoto, Esther Ogawa, Seichi Richard Ota, Yayoi Dahlia Saito, Marjorie M. Sanjo, Sam Sato, Hiroshi Sorakubo, Shizuo Charles Taketa, Chizuru Tomimatsu, Teruko Mary Tonomura, Yutaka H. Toyoda, Haruko Tsukamoto, Ikuyo Urishibata, George Yagi, Mary K. Yamada, Eisei Yamahata, Tomiye Bessie Yokoo, Albert S. Yoshikawa, Nina Nanaye Jeanne Yoshino, and Glory N. Yoshizaki
After the conclusion of WWII, Starmer moved on to receive his PhD in Broadcasting from the University of Utah. He married Alice R. Strickland on April 2, 1950 in Butte, California and moved to Chico, California. He taught speech, speech pathology, drama, television, and radio broadcasting at several institutions, including Montana State University, Hendrix College, and Stanford University. After he retired as a college professor, he continued his speech pathology private practice until his death on December 23, 2003.

Scope and Content

The collection consists almost entirely of autobiographical essays written by Japanese American students for Garrett Starmer's "Senior Problems" class at Tri-State High School at Tule Lake. A smaller portion of the collection consists of other assignments completed for Garrett Starmer’s class. The assignments are dated between 1942 and 1945, but the bulk of the autobiographical essays are dated 1943. In their autobiographies, the students wrote about their family history, fondest memories, where they had lived, and important events in their lives. In addition to asking his students to write about their family history and previous lives, Starmer encouraged his students to write about their memories of being removed, life since removal, how removal had affected them, how they perceived their American citizenship, how they thought others perceived their American citizenship, and any plans for the future. As a result, each essay provides the unique opportunity to glimpse into the thoughts and memories of young incarcerated Nisei students.

Related Materials

The American Radio Archives located at Thousand Oaks Library, CA houses a collection of Garrett Starmer’s radio scripts from his time as a broadcaster. The Japanese American National Museum has two additional documents that reflect Starmer’s work as a teacher at Tri-State High School at Tule Lake. These items, which are part of the Mary Evans’ Collection (2008.67) include a speech that he gave before a parent teacher’s meeting as well as the Tri-State High School constitution, which the journalism students wrote under Starmer’s guidance. are part of the Mary Evans Collection (2008.67). In addition to the Evans collection, JANM has collections of former incarcerees at Tule Lake that reveal their day-to-day experiences, including the Hiroshi Kaneko Papers (95.234) and the Claire (Tsuyuko Fukumitsu) and Isao Suzuki Papers (2003.2). The Jack Iwata Collection (93.102) includes photographs and negatives taken at Tule Lake between 1942-1945. The Charles W. and Margaret Frost Papers (97.169) and the Charles Palmerlee Papers (96.47) consists of material from former Tule Lake teachers.


Essays and homework from each student was grouped together in individual folders. Folders are arranged alphabetically by student last name.

Indexing Terms

Starmer, Garrett
Japanese Americans
Japanese Americans--California--Tule Lake--Social life and customs
Tule Lake Relocation Center