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Finding Aid to the Yoshiko Uchida papers 1903-1994
BANC MSS 86/97 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Yoshiko Uchida papers
    Date (inclusive): 1903-1994
    Date (bulk): 1942-1992
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 86/97 c
    Compiler: Uchida, Yoshiko
    Physical Description: linear feet: 32 Number of containers: 67 boxes, 1 carton, 2 volumes, 2 oversize folders, 14 oversize boxes, 1 portfolio 26 digital objects
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    Abstract: Consists of Uchida's correspondence, writings, and professional files, along with a small amount of personal and family papers, providing insight into the life of a successful and distinguished author, as well as her experiences as a Japanese-American growing up in Berkeley, Calif., and internment camps during the war years. Uchida's correspondence chiefly concerns business with publishers and other professionals in the literary publishing trade, and includes a large amount of fan mail. Her writings contain manuscripts of both published and unpublished works, including books, short stories, folktales, articles, and poetry. Her professional papers contain biographical and autobiographical information, as well as her bibliographies, awards, notes, and transcripts for appearances and speeches, interviews, and other professional activities.<lb/>Uchida's personal papers contain writings she did as a child, with other memorabilia, as well as diaries and journals, personal documents and miscellaneous papers, as well as memorabilia from several memorial services and exhibits held after her death. The Uchida family papers include correspondence among the immediate family, along with a few papers of her parents, Takashi ("Dwight") and Iku Uchida. Of special interest are those materials concerning relocation and redress, which include correspondence written by family members during their internment, scrapbooks, diaries, drawings and watercolors, and miscellaneous publications regarding internment.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyrights have been assigned to The Bancroft Library. Materials in this collection is protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Yoshiko Uchida Papers, BANC MSS 86/97 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Alternate Forms Available

    Digital reproductions of selected items are available.

    Related Collections

    University of Oregon, Library. Eugene, Oregon. Yoshiko Uchida Collection.
    University of Minnesota. Children's Literature Research Collections: Kerlan Collection. University Libraries, Minneapolis, Minn.
    Japanese American National Museum, Los Angeles, Calif.

    Material Cataloged Separately

    Printed works transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    Photographs transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library (BANC PIC 1986/059--PIC)

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Japanese Americans--Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945
    Uchida, Yoshiko--Archives
    Uchida, Yoshiko--Correspondence
    Uchida, Takashi ("Dwight")
    Uchida, Iku Umegaki
    Okubo, Miné--Correspondence
    Okubo, Miné, correspondent
    Japanese Americans--California--Berkeley
    Japanese Americans--California--Biography
    Women authors, American--20th century
    American literature--Japanese American uthors
    Japanese Americans--California--History
    Children's literature, American
    Family papers
    Galley proofs (Printing)
    Manuscripts for publication

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Yoshiko Uchida Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by Yoshiko Uchida in increments beginning in 1984. The final addition to her papers was made by the Estate of Yoshiko Uchida in December 1992.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Kriss R. Basil and Jane Bassett; completed by Mary Morganti
    This project was funded, in part, by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.


    Yoshiko Uchida was born in Alameda, California in 1921, the second daughter of Takashi ("Dwight") and Iku Umegaki Uchida. Dwight Uchida immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1903 and worked for the San Francisco offices of Mitsui and Company, where he eventually became a manager. Iku Umegaki, the eldest daughter of a prefectural governor of Japan, immigrated to the U.S. in 1916 to marry Dwight Uchida. Both were graduates of Doshisha University, one of the early Christian universities of Japan, and were early and active members of the Sycamore Congregational Church in El Cerrito, Calif.
    Uchida and her older sister, Keiko ("Kay"), grew up in Berkeley, Calif. By Uchida's own account, her family was close-knit and supportive. The written word was very important to Uchida's parents: her mother wrote poetry, the thirty-one syllable Japanese tanka, and her father was a prolific correspondent. Uchida's own interest in writing began early. At the age of ten, she wrote stories such as "Jimmy Chipmunk and His Friends" and "Willie the Squirrel" on brown wrapping paper. Uchida attended Longfellow School in Berkeley and University High School in Oakland. She graduated with honors from the University of California in 1942, with a B.A. in English, Philosophy, and History.
    Uchida, however, was unable to attend her graduation ceremonies. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, forcing the removal of all persons of Japanese descent (both American citizens and non-citizens) living on the western coast of the United States into centralized detention camps. Dwight Uchida was arrested, detained, and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp in Missoula, Montana. Uchida and her mother and sister had only ten days to pack all their possessions and vacate the house where they had lived for fifteen years. In May 1942, they were removed to the Tanforan Racetrack Relocation Center, where Yoshiko received her university diploma in the horse stall that served as temporary barracks for the evacuees.
    Eventually, Dwight Uchida was allowed to join his family at Tanforan, and in September 1942, the Uchida family was transferred to the Topaz Relocation Camp in the Utah desert. In May 1943, both Yoshiko and Kay were able to leave the relocation camp. Kay, who had a degree in child development, left to work in the nursery school of the Department of Education of Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Yoshiko, with the help of the National Student Relocation Council, left to attend Smith College in Northampton, Mass., where she was awarded a graduate fellowship and received a Masters in Education. Dwight and Iku Uchida were eventually sponsored to leave Topaz for Salt Lake City, and finally settled in Philadelphia before the end of the war.
    After graduation from Smith College, Uchida taught elementary school at a small Quaker school on the outskirts of Philadelphia. She soon found that she had no time to devote to writing and also became ill with mononucleosis. She moved to New York City, where her sister was teaching in a private school, and worked as a secretary during the day to keep her evenings free for writing. Uchida wrote short stories and submitted them to magazines, but met with little success until she discovered her niche as a children's author. In 1949, her first book, The Dancing Kettle, was published, followed in 1951 by New Friends for Susan.
    In 1952, Uchida was awarded a Ford Foundation Foreign Study and Research Fellowship to Japan. While there, Uchida learned about Japanese folk art from the three prominent men who founded the Japanese Folk Art Movement: the philosopher, Soetsu Yanagi, and master potters, Shoji Hamada and Kanjiro Kawai. Uchida wrote a series of feature articles about the Folk Art Movement for the Nippon Times, as well as a monograph about Kanjiro Kawai. On her return to the U.S., she served as the west coast correspondent for Craft Horizons magazine.
    After Uchida returned from Japan, she settled in Oakland, Calif., to care for her parents, who were both in poor health. Iku Uchida died in 1966, and Dwight Uchida followed in 1971. After her father's death, Uchida moved into her own apartment in Berkeley, where she lived and worked for the remainder of her life.
    Over the course of her career, Uchida wrote more than forty published works. Her books include Journey to Topaz, Journey Home, and Desert Exile, which draw on her experiences during World War II; The Dancing Kettle, The Magic Listening Cap, and The Sea of Gold, which are compilations of folktales that she collected as a child and while in Japan; an autobiography, The Invisible Thread; and the adult novel, Picture Bride. In addition to writing, Uchida made personal appearances, gave talks and speeches, and answered the many letters from her fans.
    Uchida was honored with many awards, including the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award, two Commonwealth Club of California Juvenile Book Award Medals, the University of Oregon Distinguished Service Award, the California Japanese Alumni Association Award, the California Reading Association Award, the Japanese American of the Biennium Award, the Japanese American Citizen's League Award, the Nikkei in Education Award, and the Morris S. Rosenblatt Award from the Utah State Historical Society.
    Uchida suffered from ill health during the later years of her life, which curtailed her writing and her public appearances. She died in Berkeley on June 21, 1992.

    Scope and Content

    The Yoshiko Uchida Papers, 1903-1994, consist of correspondence, writings, and her professional files, along with a small amount of personal and family papers, predominately from the years 1942 to 1992. The collection provides insight into the life of a successful and distinguished author, as well as the experience of a Japanese American citizen during a critical period in United States history. It offers information about Uchida's creative process as a writer, and also provides valuable primary historical information about the Japanese American experience during World War II.
    Uchida was a private person; very little truly personal correspondence is found in the collection. Her general correspondence chiefly concerns business with publishers and other professionals in the literary publishing trade, and a large number of fan letters. Uchida's correspondence, however, reveals much about her tactful, polite, yet strong personality, and the habits of a hard-working writer. Uchida was a diligent and careful correspondent; she kept copies of her outgoing letters and took notes on the substance of her replies and telephone conversations.
    Uchida's writings contain manuscripts of both published and unpublished works. Her published works are mainly books for children, while her unpublished works encompass a wider spectrum, including adult short stories, articles, and poetry. The collection reflects the changing currents in American culture in the latter part of the twentieth century, when literature written by and for minorities and women began to emerge and grow in importance.
    Uchida's professional papers contain biographical and autobiographical information, as well as her bibliographies, awards, notes, and transcripts for appearances and speeches, interviews, and other professional activities. Her personal papers include writings she did as a child, with other memorabilia, as well as diaries and journals, personal documents, and the mass of information she gathered about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and other health issues during the last year of her life. Memorabilia from several memorial services and exhibits that were held after Uchida's death has also been added here.
    The Uchida family papers include correspondence among the immediate family and contain letters Yoshiko wrote to her parents while she was in Japan during a Ford Fellowship. She kept her parents' legal documents and notes about their funeral arrangements, as well as some of her mother's poems. Of special interest are the papers regarding relocation and redress. These include correspondence written by members of the Uchida family during their internment, scrapbooks, diaries, drawings and watercolors, and publications regarding internment, and as well as information Uchida collected on redress.
    During the course of processing, some fragile originals have been restricted from routine use; photocopies of these documents have been made and placed in the collection for use.