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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Correspondence, articles, clippings, photographs, published materials, business and financial records, paintings, collages, and drawings created and collected by artist Miné Okubo (1912-2001), with the bulk dating from the immediate postwar period to the 1970s.
Background
Miné Okubo was a Japanese American artist, writer, and social activist whose depiction of life in American internment camps during World War II gave a voice to more than 120,000 Japanese American internees. Her book, CITIZEN 13660, published in 1946, was the first account of the wartime Japanese American relocation and confinement experience, and is regarded as a landmark work that still resonates with Americans. Miné Okubo was born in Riverside, California, on June 27, 1912, to immigrant Japanese parents. She attended Riverside Junior College (now Riverside City College), and subsequently obtained a bachelor’s degree in fine arts as well as a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She won a fellowship in 1938 to study art in Europe, and returned to the United States just before the outbreak of World War II. She was employed doing public art projects through the federal WPA in the San Francisco area, and worked with Mexican muralist Diego Rivera for the Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay. She was working on a mural when war with Japan was declared. She and her brother Toku were incarcerated briefly at Tanforan Relocation Camp, and subsequently transferred to the Central Utah Relocation Camp in Topaz, Utah. While in the camp, Miné Okubo taught art and did numerous pen and ink drawings depicting life in the relocation center, which later provided the material for CITIZEN 13660. She entered a magazine contest with a drawing of a camp guard, and FORTUNE magazine, recognizing her talent, offered her a job in New York that led to her release from the camp. With some help, she found an apartment in Greenwich Village where she would live for the next 50 years, vigorously participating in the New York art scene and creating works of art that were exhibited from Boston to Tokyo. Okubo died in 2001.
Extent
50 linear ft.
Restrictions
Availability
Collection stored at the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties. Advance notice required for access.