JACL Philadelphia Oral History Collection

    The JACL Philadelphia Chapter was established in 1947 by survivors of the wartime incarceration of Japanese Americans who resettled in the Greater Philadelphia region during the postwar era. Since then, the chapter has been involved in civil rights advocacy in solidarity with other people of color and historically marginalized communities. JACL Philadelphia played a strong leadership role in JACL’s National Redress Movement, which is discussed in many of the interviews.
    As one of the nation’s largest cities, with one of the smallest Japanese American populations, interviewees reflect on the challenges and opportunities presented by community organizing in such an environment.
    This collection features interviews with nearly two dozen now deceased Nisei members of the chapter conducted in 1994 by Herbert J. Horikawa. An additional ten interviews were conducted with Sansei members during the Summer of 2023 as part of the JACS grant funded JACL Oral History Project. The latter interviews were recorded by videographer Brett Kodama and conducted by staff of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia, in collaboration with JACL Philadelphia leadership.

Segment 1: Growing up in Cupertino, California
Segment 2: Leaving camp to attend graduate school
Segment 3: Attending Cambridge College
Segment 4: Moving to Philadelphia and getting married
Segment 5: Teaching at the University of Pennsylvania
Segment 6: Thoughts on the term “Quiet American”
Segment 7: The problematic “model minority” label
Segment 8: Influence of Japanese culture and heritage
Segment 9: Reflections: influences in life, confidence and self-reliance

Oral history recordings courtesy of JACL Philadelphia. Collection hosted by Densho on Densho Digital Repository.