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Finding Aid for the Lincoln Kanai papers, 1938-1946, (bulk 1942-1945)
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Lincoln Kanai papers
    Date (bulk): 1938-1946, (bulk 1942-1945)
    Collection number: 1637
    Creator: Kanai, Lincoln.
    Extent: 1 box (0.5 linear feet)
    Abstract: Correspondence, primarily of Lincoln Kanai, governmental documents, pamphlets and bulletins relating to the relocation and internment of Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Language of the Material: Materials are in 1637.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    Open for research. STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact UCLA Library Special Collections for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UC Regents. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    • Gift of Ralph Palmer Merritt, 1946.
    • Gift of Bradford Smith, 1952.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Chris Marino in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Megan Hahn Fraser, August 2011.
    The materials in Collection 1637 were originally part of Collection 122, the Manzanar War Relocation Center Records (formerly known as the U.S. War Relocation Authority Archive). Collection 122 was then divided into smaller collections, one of which became Collection 131, a collection of material on Japanese American Internment. A few years later, Collection 131 was divided into three distinct collections: the Constantine Panunzio Collection of Material on Japanese American Internment (Collection 1636), the Bradford Smith Papers (Collection 1638), and this collection, the Lincoln Kanai Papers.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Lincoln Kanai papers (Collection 1637). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 4233237 


    Ten weeks after the United States declared war, President Roosevelt signed Executive order 9066 which gave the Secretary of War and military commanders the power to exclude any persons from designated areas, primarily along the west coast, in order to secure national defense. From December 7, 1941 until September 29, 1947 both Japanese and Japanese Americans were evacuated from the areas in which they lived and forced to relocate to designated relocation camps where they were detained. This was primarily overseen by the War Relocation Authority. Protest against Japanese and Japanese American internment, most commonly came in the form of court challenges to curfew and relocation. One of the more well known cases of protest was that of Lincoln Kanai, a U.S. citizen who failed to leave San Francisco after the order to evacuate was made mandatory for Japanese Americans or the Nisei generation.
    Lincoln Kanai was born in Kauai, Hawaii in 1908. In 1930 he graduated from the University of Hawaii, where he studied science and social work. In 1937 Kanai moved to San Francisco where he became the executive secretary of the Buchanan Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), which at the time was also known as the Japanese Branch of the YMCA. After the executive order was declared, Kanai became involved in various efforts to organize assistance for Japanese and Japanese Americans during the war. He tried to find jobs for undocumented Japanese who found themselves out of work because of the war and wrote the government countless letter protesting relocation. Lincoln Kanai was especially concerned with the relocation of Japanese American college students during the war as well as the rehabilitation of internees after they were released from relocation centers. During the war with the help of Kenneth Rexroth, American poet and essayist, Kanai also shipped educational and recreational supplies to Japanese and Japanese American internees. After the Executive Order 9066 was declared, Kanai stayed in San Francisco. Resisting relocation, Lincoln Kanai was arrested. After he was released from his arrest, he fled to Wisconsin where he filed a habeas petition to the federal district court in Wisconsin. He was later brought back to San Francisco to stand trial. He pled guilty on August 27th 1942, and was sentenced six months imprisonment. Lincoln Kanai died in February of 1982 at the age of 74.

    Scope and Content

    The collection consists primarily of Kanai's correspondence dated 1938, 1942-1943. The majority of letters written are from Kanai to the American government, however the collection also includes letters written by government officials such as Milton S. Eisenhower the director of the War Relocation Authority to Kanai, and letters written to Kanai from friends. Other correspondence within the collection includes correspondence from Japanese American internees to their former teachers and friends. This collection also includes pamphlets and bulletins issued by the War Relocation Authority, a Manzanar High School year book, as well as a bound volume of Administrative Subdivisions of Japan: with separate appendix of 47 prefectural maps.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Kanai, Lincoln --Archives.
    Manzanar War Relocation Center.
    Japanese Americans --Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945 --Archival resources.