Conditions Governing Use
Conditions Governing Access
Biographical / Historical
Scope and Contents
Processing Information for Digitized Materials
Availability of Digitized Materials
California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections
Title: Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Papers
Herzig, John A., 1922-2005
Identifier/Call Number: SPC.2018.058
Date (inclusive): circa 1900-December 1, 2018
Date (bulk): 1980-2018
Abstract: This collection includes correspondence, media, publications, photographs, manuscripts, documents, and other materials related
to Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga's life and work related to activism and social justice. Subjects in the collection include Redress
and Reparations, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Japanese American incarceration, and Aiko's
personal life. Some material has been digitized and is available online.
Language of Material:
Conditions Governing Use
All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives
and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical
materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.
This collection is related to the Jack and Aiko Herzig Papers at the University of California, Los Angeles. Please consult
the UCLA Library and Special Collections for more information.
Jack and Aiko Herzig Papers.
Conditions Governing Access
Access is restricted to some material in the collection.
During processing, personal and health-related information was removed from the collection. If access copies could be created
that concealed the confidential information, they were added back into the collection. Other material is closed and restricted
according to HIPPA guidelines and the judgment of the archives staff. For more information about the restrictions in this
collection, please call the Gerth Archives and Special Collections (310) 243-3895.
The collection was processed by Eileen Yoshimura in 2019-2020.
Biographical / Historical
During her life and posthumously, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga (Aiko) was recognized and honored with numerous awards and accolades
for speaking out and fighting for social justice. She is best known for uncovering the "smoking gun" evidence that led to
the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, resulting in redress and reparations for the incarceration of Japanese Americans
during World War II. Her research findings were also pivotal in bringing forth writ of
coram nobis petitions in three wartime cases against Gordon Hirabayashi, Fred Korematsu, and Minoru Yasui, who were convicted of violating
military orders under Executive Order 9066.
Aiko Yoshinaga, was born on August 5, 1924 in Sacramento, California. Her parents, Sanji Yoshinaga and Shigeru Kinuwaki,
were immigrants from Japan. Aiko was the second to the youngest among six brothers and sisters: brother Nobukazu Frank and
sisters Aya and Ei were born in Japan; brother Tsugio John and sister Amy were born in Sacramento. The family moved from Sacramento
in 1933 to Downey briefly, and then to Los Angeles until 1942.
In Sacramento, Sanji Yoshinaga supported his family by managing hotels and running a small fruit and vegetable store. In
1933, when Aiko was 9 years of age, the family moved to Downey and stayed on her mother's cousin's farm for a few months until
her father was able to find a home in "uptown" Los Angeles, a small community of Nikkei (Japanese American) families.
For the next 9 years, until Aiko was 17, the family settled in Los Angeles where she attended Hobart Elementary School, Berendo
Junior High School, Poly High, and Los Angeles High School. At the latter, Aiko and her fellow Nisei (second generation Japanese
American) students were a few weeks from graduating when their lives were interrupted by Executive Order 9066; Aiko would
not receive her high school diploma until after the war.
In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which cleared the way for the removal and incarceration
of Japanese Americans within designated "military zones" located primarily along the West Coast. The Yoshinaga family, living
in a designated military zone, was initially sent to live in the horse stables at Santa Anita Racetrack before being imprisoned
in April 1942 at Jerome, one of ten American incarceration camps. For Aiko, shortly before incarceration, she married Jake
Miyazaki and joined him and his family at Manzanar. There, she gave birth to her first child, Gerrie Lani Miyazaki. Upon
hearing that her father was gravely ill, she and her daughter transferred to the Jerome incarceration camp, and later to the
Rowher incarceration camp. Her father died while imprisoned in Jerome.
At war's end in 1945, Aiko and Gerrie relocated to Denver, Colorado with Jake's family. After their divorce, Aiko and Gerrie
eventually moved to New York City where her widowed mother and siblings lived. In 1948, after attending night school in New
York City, Aiko earned her high school diploma. She also met and married her husband Davis Abe, a US. Army officer who served
in the postwar occupation in Japan. While in Kyoto, Japan, she had two more children, Lisa Jo Abe and David Louis Abe. After
divorcing her second husband, Aiko relocated to New York and became the single parent of two daughters and a son. She found
work in secretarial and office clerical positions, supporting her family while at the same time, developing meticulous organizational
and research skills.
A turning point for Aiko came over dinner table talks with her teenage daughter Lisa during the 1960's when they would discuss
current events. In Aiko's own words:
I found myself hard-pressed to satisfactorily explain to my daughter, let alone myself, the stark contradictions between what
we had been taught about American values and American democracy versus the stark realities carried into our home by the news.
I had naively accepted the dictum that we lived in a society based on the rule of law, but it was increasingly clear that
laws were not synonymous with justice and fairness.
It became clear to Aiko that she had suppressed and denied her own painful memories of her incarceration and injustice. She
started to confront issues of racism, including her own personal experiences, and sought to educate herself and become involved
in political change. In New York, she joined a group called the Asian Americans for Action (AAA) and participated in demonstrations
about social, economic and political issues in the U.S. and abroad. At one point, Aiko found herself arrested along with
President Jimmy Carter's daughter Amy while demonstrating in front of the South African Embassy to protest that country's
apartheid policy. Aiko would also meet Michi Nishiura Weglyn, author of Years of Infamy: The Untold Story of America's Concentration
Camps, who became a close friend and inspiration to Aiko in her pursuit against social injustice.
In 1978, Aiko married John "Jack" Herzig (Jack), a former U.S. Army Lieutenant colonel paratrooper. They moved to Washington,
D.C. and Aiko began visiting the National Archives, initially to find documents relating to her family's World War II incarceration.
It was Weglyn who encouraged her to broaden her research to the various issues relating to the wartime exclusion history.
Aiko found herself at the National Archives Monday through Saturday and spending 50 to 60 hours a week. After his retirement,
Jack joined his wife as a research partner and together, they amassed about 8,000 documents from the War Relocation Authority
and War Department records and other federal agencies.
In 1980, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Citizens (CWRIC) was created by the U.S. Congress to officially
study the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. In 1981, Aiko was hired by the CWRIC as a researcher.
Her documents and research proved invaluable to the study and was the core of the CWRIC's 1983 final report, Personal Justice
Denied, which led to the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, redress, and a formal apology by the U.S. government
to Japanese Americans.
While conducting research at the National Archives for the CWRIC, Aiko along with her husband, uncovered the tenth copy of
General John L. DeWitt's final report. DeWitt's report had documented the fact that J. Edgar Hoover of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation, the Federal Communications Commission, the Office of Naval Intelligence and other agencies categorically
denied that Japanese Americans had committed any wrongdoing. DeWitt's report was never presented to the U.S. Supreme Court
during the original 1944 case of Korematsu v. United States. Instead, it was suppressed and all copies, but one were destroyed.
With the discovery of the tenth missing copy, it was revealed that the U.S. government based its decision to incarcerate Japanese
Americans on racist and unconstitutional arguments versus its long-standing position of military necessity. This discovery
was also instrumental in laying the foundation for writ of coram nobis petitions for three wartime cases, resulting in decisions
to vacate the wartime U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
In July 1981, the CWRIC held hearings to hear testimonies from more than 750 people relating to the World War II incarceration
of Japanese Americans. After the CWRIC concluded its work, Aiko was hired by the Japanese American National Library in 1989
to edit and annotate the CWRIC transcripts prior to publication. Known as the Japanese American Historical Papers Project,
Aiko worked on this project until 1996, when the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund (CLPEF) was created in response to
the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. Aiko was hired by the CLPEF Board to transcribe the CWRIC hearings. In 1998, the CLPEF
awarded the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) with a grant to facilitate the publication of the transcripts produced
In 2003, the Herzig's relocated to Gardena, California after 25 years in the Washington, D.C. area. Sadly, in 2005, Jack
died of colon cancer after a period of illness.
In 2010, Aiko published
Words Can Lie or Clarify: Terminology of the World War II Incarceration of Japanese Americans, which reflected her experience as a researcher for the CWRIC that caused her to realize the power and usage of words. In
2011, the UCLA project was completed with the publication of Speaking Out for Personal Justice: Site Summaries of Testimonies
and Witnesses Registry from the U.S. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Hearings (CWRIC), 1981,
edited by Aiko and Marjorie Lee, a librarian at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center.
In her later years, Aiko continued to be sought after by groups, organizations, colleagues, students and others for her expertise,
advice and support. She would share any information she had with them, including clippings, documents and resources in her
vast files. She was frequently asked to speak and participate on panels, the recipient of many honors and awards, and featured
in documentaries, including Janice Tanaka's biographical film,
Rebel with a Cause. She also participated on planning and advisory boards for major projects including the California State University Japanese
American Digitization Project. On a June 2013 curriculum vitae, she listed herself as a "Prisoner, U.S. War Relocation Authority
concentration camps". In her words, she had evolved "…from a once naïve housewife to a concerned citizen, and now political
activist." Up until her death in 2018 at the age of 94, Aiko continued in her role as a political activist, helping others
in speaking out and fighting for social justice.
This collection is arranged in five series, with some series having multiple subseries:
- Series One:
- Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC), 1942-2016
- Series Two:
- Japanese American Historical Papers Project, 1985-2003, undated
- Series Three:
- Civil Liberties Public Education Fund, 1981-2016
- Series Four:
- Subject Files, Publications and Manuscripts, and Media, 1942-2018
- Series Five:
- Personal Files, Correspondence, Photographs, Los Angeles High School, Media, Personal Files, and Other Subjects, 1942-2018
Scope and Contents
The Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga Papers (1900-2018, bulk 1980-2018) includes approximately 60 archival boxes of correspondence, media,
photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, memorabilia and ephemera related to Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga's (Aiko) life and work.
The collection reflects Aiko's meticulous attention to detail and organizational and research skills she developed through
her secretarial and office clerical experience.
The first three series document Aiko's work in editing, transcribing, and publishing testimonies from hearings held in July
1981 by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (CWRIC) on the World War II incarceration of Japanese
Americans. These series include her research, notes, drafts, working papers, and edits while working for: the CWRIC as a researcher;
the Japanese Historical Papers Project as project director to edit and annotate the transcripts; the Civil Liberties Public
Education Fund to transcribe the hearings; and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) to publish her work in
Speaking Out for Personal Justice: Site Summaries of Testimonies and Witnesses Registry from the Commission on Wartime Relocation
and Internment of Civilans (CWRIC) Hearings, 1981.
The collection also includes copies of individual testimonies submitted to the CWRIC by witnesses.
The fourth series in the collection contains subject files primarily related to Aiko's work as a civil rights activist, the
World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans and related topics and issues. It includes several copies and versions of
the Lim Report and related correspondence, notes, and other documents. This report was commissioned by the Japanese American
Citizens League (JACL) in 1989 to investigate its wartime activities. While initially suppressed by the JACL, Aiko and others
fought to have the report widely publicized. Additionally, this series includes information about the Jack and Aiko Herzig
Papers at UCLA, to which the Herzig's donated their research materials in 2003. This subseries contains correspondence, shipping
receipts, inaugural reception information, and other documents related to the UCLA collection. Other subject content in this
series include Michi Weglyn, Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi, Japanese Latin Americans, Nikkei for Civil Rights and Redress
(NCRR), Nikkei and Nikkei issues, among others. The next subseries includes publications and manuscripts comprised of essays,
dissertations, periodicals, and books related to Japanese Americans and Japanese American incarceration. It includes a copy
of Mako Nakagawa's 2007
Camp Child, "Executive Order 9066 aka The Aiko Yoshinaga Story" written in 1990 by Philip Kan Gotanda, Japanese American Voice (JAVoice)
articles, a copy of a Santa Fe Camp directory, and others. The final subseries includes documentaries, films, and promotional
media largely related to the World War II Japanese American incarceration and Japanese American soldiers.
The fifth series in the collection includes Aiko and Jack Herzig's personal files, correspondence, news clippings, photographs,
awards and certificates, and media related primarily to their life.
The majority of correspondence is in email format, with some typed or handwritten. The files are generally about the subject
and/or Aiko's correspondence with or relating to the subject. Aiko's orbit of correspondents was diverse, extending across
the nation and abroad. Of note, correspondence topics include: efforts made to obtain a retraction and apology from author
Michelle Malkin for a passage in her book,
In Defense of Internment; Cedrick Shimo and efforts to hold an event at the Japanese American National Museum featuring Robert Stinnett and his Pearl
Day of Deceit; Janice Tanaka and the making of the documentary of Aiko's life,
Rebel With a Cause; Lt. Ehren Watada and the movement in support of his refusal to deploy to Iraq on grounds that it was illegal to do so; writers
and authors Phil Tajitsu Nash and Greg Robinson; artist Bill Bossert; Harry Ueno and his handwritten letters to Aiko; among
others. There are also informal notes that Aiko wrote to herself, such as telephone conversations, tasks, reminders, and thoughts,
that are predominately handwritten on random pieces of paper.
This series also includes photographs during pre-World War II of the Yoshinaga family in Japan and the United States, as well
as wartime photos in the Jerome and Rowher incarceration camps. Post-war photos include Aiko's life in New York, Japan, and
after her marriage to Jack Herzig when they resided in the Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles areas. Albums created by Aiko's
brother John Yoshinaga are also included in the collection.
Of note in this series are Aiko's Los Angeles High School diploma and graduation cap she received in a special ceremony held
in 1989. In 1942, Aiko's graduation from high school was interrupted when the Yoshinaga family was incarcerated during World
War II. Through the efforts of Warren Furutani, a member of the Los Angeles Board of Education and Aiko's son-in-law, she
and her fellow Nisei (second generation Japanese American) classmates were presented with their 1942 diplomas at a special
ceremony at Los Angeles High School.
This series also includes the many awards and certificates that Aiko received during her life and posthumously, as well as
media (i.e., VHS, DVD, CD, Blu Ray, floppy disks, zip drives) of interviews with Aiko and Jack, music (both American and Japanese),
and Aiko's documents from her computer she fondly referred to as "Igor". Aiko was also an avid recipe and stamp collector.
The collection includes numerous stamps and recipes she collected over the years.
Processing Information for Digitized Materials
The Gerth Archives and Special Collections created digital reproductions from the original material for long-term preservation
and access. These preservation files were scanned to and stored on the Gerth Archives and Special Collections Department Drive.
For more information on the best practices and standards for the digitization process, see:
CSUJAD Techinal Reference Guide.
Availability of Digitized Materials
Some of the collection has been digitized and is available at the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project site.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Jerome Relocation Center (Ark.)
Rohwer Relocation Center (Ark.)
Reparations for historical injustices
Japanese American families
Japanese American soldiers
Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1944-1945 -- Archives
Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945 -- Research
Manzanar War Relocation Center